During her lifetime, retired radiologist Mary Trott has seen the percentage of women in the medical profession grow.
“I think it does permit women to have a life, mostly due to the changes that have occurred in working conditions,” Trott said. “One thing I cannot stress enough to younger women physicians is that many women go it alone successfully, but if you are going to have a life partner and a family, it really helps to have someone who is prepared to provide unflinching and unfailing support.”
Her husband, Bernie Littlejohn, was Mr. Mom for their daughter Sonya at a time when such a thing was not fashionable in Williams Lake, she said.
“It was hard for him at first, being the invisible partner. He joined the board for Home Support which was later swallowed up by Interior Health.”
In recent years, Trott added, there are now many non-medical husbands of women doctors in Williams Lake who have carved out niches for themselves in the community, as well as filling the gaps that often occur at home, due to their wives’ careers.
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“I am in awe of what some of my female colleagues have contributed, both locally and to the wider community, in addition to excellent patient care. I’m sure solid support on the home front has made this possible, at least in part.”
Born in Bermuda, Trott knew she wanted to be a doctor at a young age, after being impressed by her cousin Barbara who was a nurse.
When Trott told her mom she wanted to be like Barbara, her mom replied she was probably too bossy and might prefer to be a doctor.
Admiration for her high school teachers, who were McGill University grads, inspired Trott to pursue her undergrad and medical degrees at McGill in Montreal, Que.
It was after meeting a female pediatric radiologist resident in Montreal Children’s Hospital that she first began to wonder if she should become a radiologist.
Eventually she applied and was accepted for a general internship at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
After taking a year off from school to intern around B.C. she was invited to complete the radiology program at the University of British Columbia.
Coming from a small community and having good memories, she decided that big city radiology wasn’t for her. She wanted somewhere smaller where she could be more involved with patient contact.
At about the same time, radiologist Dr. Peter DeVito was looking after hospitals in Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.
“Pete heard about my interest in small community radiology and sent me a note inviting me to do a locum.”
She did a few weeks at CMH, went back and wrote her fellowship exams, and returned in 1975 when she was offered the radiologist job.
She retired in 2002.
Technology was changing with the emphasis on CT Scans and MRIs, so she determined it was a good time for her to leave.
They did not have great Internet at their home outside of town and she wouldn’t be able to read scans at home anyways.
Reflecting on her career she said radiology was good field for women.
“We had a very good working environment. It was a very friendly department with a lot of respect and support that was mutual between the technicians and myself.”
Trott is married to Bernie Littlejohn, who she met through a friend in Vancouver. They have a daughter, Sonya Littlejohn, and two grandchildren who live close by.
Trott sang with Quintet Plus, is a seniors advocate through the Seniors Activity Centre and is a member of St. Andrew’s United Church.
Through the church she is part of a group affiliated with an international organization called Days for Girls where they prepare reusable personal hygiene kits for girls in the developing world so they can go to school on their menstrual period days.
“If they don’t have the supplies to permit them to continue with normal activities then they have to stay at home during those days so that really impacts negatively on their education.”
Trott would like to see more attention in this day and age paid to mental health because that’s where women and men are not getting the treatment, attention and respect that is deserved as fellow human beings, she said.
“Right now there is a desperate shortage of counsellors, therapists and psychiatrists and it takes it toll on small communities.”