by Kathleen Romanowski, MD
Since I attended my first Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) Annual meeting 6 years ago, the weekend before the American College of Surgeons meeting in October has become one of my favorite weekends of the year. The feeling of attending this meeting can be hard to describe to those who have never had the opportunity to attend, but I will try. Imagine walking into a surgical meeting. You look around surveying the room, looking for a place to sit, maybe trying to see if you know anyone there. As you look around you realize that this meeting has a very different look to it. Instead of the usual sea of black suits with a few pops of color, you encounter a sea of color with a few dark color suit spots. Rather than a largely male crowd, you are surrounded by a multitude of female faces of all colors and shapes. As you make your way through the room you overhear conversations about children, research ideas, nannies, fashion, and the latest surgical techniques. You see faces you recognize as your mentors and those that you idolize, the leaders in the surgical world. You sit next to your former (or current) co-residents and catch up on their lives. You meet new medical students and residents who will be the future of our profession. As the conference begins you listen to presentations on new research that your fellow women surgeons have done. You listen to inspiring talks about how to progress through your career and how to deal with pitfalls you might come upon. You get inspired and rejuvenated through the shared experience of those who have also chosen to practice surgery. You realize you are surrounded by people who, at least somewhat, understand your world and the triumphs and the setbacks that are associated with that world.
This year’s installment of the AWS Annual meeting, “Celebrating our Past, Transforming our Future,” will occur virtually on October 16th and 17th. Registration is still available at: https://www.womensurgeons.org/event/2021annualconference. There are so many offerings that appeal to me at this meeting. I am excited to hear the medical students and residents present their research; I am looking forward to the History and Evolution of AWS Keynote address; and I expect to learn a lot from the negotiation breakout session. These are just a few of the offerings at the meeting this year and I am sure there is something that will appeal to most people. The full schedule can be found here: https://www.womensurgeons.org/page/ConferenceProgram.
While I am excited for the meeting this year, I won’t lie and say I am not eagerly awaiting a return to in-person conferences. I miss the camaraderie and catching up with friends, mentors and colleagues who I don’t get to see or talk with on a regular basis. I miss stepping out of my busy life for a few days to not only relax, but recharge and recenter. I always leave the AWS Annual meeting with new friends, new ideas, and a fresh perspective that allows me to return home and conquer some of the daily annoyances with a better attitude. Despite the fact that this conference will be virtual, I am sure that I will take many of the same things from this gathering of amazing women and I am sure that this will be one of my favorite weekends of the year!
Kathleen Romanowski, MD, FACS is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of California, Davis and Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California in the Division of Burn Surgery. She attended the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed her general surgery residency at University of Chicago Medical Center. She did fellowships in Burn Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at University of California, Davis and Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California. Kathleen is devoted to the care of the burn injured patient and studies disparities in care and predictors of outcomes in elderly burn patients. She is an active member of AWS and is a member of the AWS Communications Committee and Faculty Chair of the AWS Blog Sub-committee. You can find her on twitter at @KSRomanowski.
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