May 2024 Book Review

Book Review: Brave Boundaries by Sasha Shillcutt, M.D.

Reviewed by: Denise Nemeth, OMS III

Author Bio:

Sasha K. Shillcutt, MD, MS, FASE is a tenured and endowed Professor and the Vice Chair of Strategy in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Sasha is CEO & Founder of Brave Enough, a well-published researcher in cardiac anesthesiology and gender equity, author, and international speaker. Sasha has taught thousands of women to achieve work-life control through her courses and conferences. Her CME conferences and retreats sell out every year and are highly attended by women physicians and leaders. She speaks frequently to executives and leaders on the topics of professional resilience, how to manage your time, and how to advance as women leaders. Her TEDx talk titled Resilience: The Art of Failing Forward has been viewed by thousands of people. Her writing has been published in both the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA. A best-selling author, her books Between Grit and GraceHow to be Feminine and Formidable and Brave Boundaries: Strategies to Say No, Stand Strong and Take Control of Your Time have sold thousands of copies. She is an author, entrepreneur, executive coach, mom, and physician who lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her best friend and husband, Lance. 


“If you do not set your own boundaries, someone else will be happy to set them for you”.

- Sasha Shillcutt, M.D.

Are you overwhelmed by the incessant demands of your professional and personal life, constantly saying “yes” when you really mean “no”?   Dr. Sasha Shillcutt's "Brave Boundaries" offers a refreshing perspective on reclaiming control over our time and energy. In this meticulously crafted book, Dr. Shillcutt explores the intricate realm of boundaries, shedding light on their significance and empowering readers to embrace them courageously.

While familial dynamics do permeate throughout the book, perhaps not initially resonating with everyone, “Brave Boundaries” transcends beyond and caters to the needs of every reader, particularly those in the demanding field of surgery. Dr. Schillcutt not only discusses the essence of boundaries but also provides readers with practical strategies to uphold them. With reflective exercises at the end of each chapter, she fosters a journey of self-discovery and growth.

Boundaries not only allow us to love ourselves but also to become our most authentic selves. By unraveling common myths surrounding boundaries, Dr. Shillcutt challenges ingrained beliefs, emphasizing their role not only in self-preservation but also in garnering respect from peers and loved ones. Through her Brave Boundary model, readers are equipped with actionable steps to establish, reinforce, and navigate boundaries effectively, mitigating potential backlash along the way.

The narrative extends beyond individual empowerment, delving into broader societal constructs, particularly the patriarchal norms that pervade professional realms like surgery. Dr. Shillcutt's poignant insights prompt readers to advocate for their autonomy unapologetically. “Whether we recognize how the reality of being women in a male-dominated world affects our daily decisions, it permeates the foundation of our culture and has fingers in every institution and home”.

"Brave Boundaries" is more than a mere self-help manual; it is a manifesto for reclaiming agency and fostering holistic well-being. It is simply a must-read for anyone seeking to cultivate a more balanced and fulfilling life. Personally, this book catalyzed a deep and important realization within me, illuminating the possibility of reconciling my professional aspirations with the prospect of motherhood—a testament to its transformative potential.

As I embark on the next phase of my medical journey, I am compelled to share this invaluable resource with my peers, knowing firsthand the impact it can have. "Brave Boundaries" is not just a book; it's a roadmap to reclaiming autonomy and embracing authenticity in every facet of life.

Reviewer: Denise Nemeth

Denise Nemeth is a third-year medical student at the UIWSOM in San Antonio, TX. She is originally from Piedras Negras, Mexico and grew up on the US/Mexico Border. Before starting medical school, Denise worked as a General Surgery Physician Assistant in her rural community, where she developed a love for serving medically underserved populations.  She is currently the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) National Medical Student Committee (NMSC)  Social Media and Marketing Coordinator and has been an active member of the AWS Communications Committee for the last four years. Denise is an active member of multiple organizations including the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, Texas Osteopathic Medical Association, Latino Surgical Society (LSS), and Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA). She is passionate about providing healthcare to marginalized communities. Her research and subspecialty interests are varied and include minimally invasive surgery, wound healing, and gender equity within surgical specialties. She advocates for Latino health and hopes to see increased representation via increased numbers of Latino/Hispanic physicians and surgeons. 

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling the world, reading, and writing. Denise aspires to become a rural surgeon.

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