by Minerva Romero Arenas, MD, MPH
It was only a month ago that thousands of surgeons met in Chicago for the annual American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress. Just days before, however, over 150 women gathered for yet another Association of Women Surgeons conference. Medical students, residents, and attending surgeons met to present their scientific work, celebrate accomplishments, discuss professional development, and network.
An inherent part of the meeting is the ongoing development of relationships and mentoring that goes on at all levels. We learned from first-year medical student, Sarah Armenia, about the power of this experience even at such an early stage in training. The importance of mentoring is highlighted by the variety of activities specifically organized at AWS & ACS for medical students, residents, and fellows – and even a high school students.
The #ILookLikeASurgeon movement was coined by surgery resident, Dr. Heather Logghe, inspired from the #ILookLikeAnEngineer movement. Male and female surgeons around the world have embraced the hashtag on social media, calling for increasing visibility of women in surgery. Research shows many people make career decisions based on exposure to different professions and is often limited to the experience of those around us. Hopefully, these ongoing efforts to recruit and mentor students through careers in medicine and surgery will eventually lead to an increase in diversity. Nonetheless, the number of women in surgery is still lagging behind other disciplines and diminishes up the academic and leadership ladders.
The energy in Chicago fueled our commitment to increasing the visibility of women surgeons. We hope you tune in weekly for our new posts to gain insight into our professional accomplishments, challenges, debates, and in the process remember that the AWS leaders and members at the end of the day, are also just surgeons.
The conference was a great way to meet in person, but we can keep the conversation going all year long using the Comments for each blog post. Follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook) for updates on the blog & AWS.