Dream Audaciously

17 Oct 2019

By Sharon Stein

When did being ambitious become a bad thing?

When I was growing up, my three favorite heroes were JFK, Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa. I remember my early reader book series that described their lives in 1st grader terms and wondering how a little kid like me could end up growing up to make a big difference in this world. I think that every kid in my 1st grade class wanted to be a president or an astronaut. We all dreamed that we could be anything that we wanted to be.

Somewhere along the way it seems that we have been discouraged from big dreams. Being ambitious has somehow become a bad word. I don’t hear my daughter or her friends having these big goals, big audacious dreams, and it makes me sad because they may feel like having those big audacious dreams is just too much. Somehow, we are disdainful when someone wants to be a chief, chair, president, or save the world. We need all of those people, and we all need dreams.

It is ok not to want to be president of the US, or AWS, or ACS. It is ok not to invent the latest surgical technique or rid the world of cancer, and it is ok not to reach your goals or decide that what you wanted 6 months ago, 6 years ago or 36 years ago isn’t what you want anymore. Your goals may change along the way. However, it is not ok to give up on having goals, being strategic, and being ambitious.

This year’s AWS Conference in San Francisco is all about Sculpting our Future, as individuals, as women surgeons, and as professionals. Sculpting our Future means that we are in the driver’s seat. We can’t sit in the back seat and expect some Lyft driver to take us where we want to go.

If we want to improve our profession, we are going to need to plot, negotiate, and plod in our fight to increase diversity within surgery. We are incredibly honored to have an all-star group of speakers coming to enlighten us about branding, visioning, dreaming, and designing our future. It won’t happen by osmosis; it will only happen as an active process.

Many have said that improving as women isn’t enough, and that is certainly true. AWS isworking towards making differences within our profession – bringing up issues such as pay parity, sexual harassment, discrimination, and microaggression on a national level to ensure that these issues are part of the conversation within surgery. We also need to be ready as individuals. We need to dream audaciously, not just for ourselves but also for our profession.

We need to work hard to make these dreams come true or forward our agendas. 

Join us at AWS, at our conference in San Francisco on Saturday October 26th at the Parc 55, at our networking breakfast at Terra gallery on Tuesday October 29th, or by renewing/completing your membership application

And dream audaciously.

Sharon L. Stein, MD, FACS, FASCRS, is a colorectal surgeon at University Cleveland Medical Center (UH) and Associate Professor, Surgery at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine. She is also the Director of UH RISES: Research in Surgical Outcomes and Effectiveness Center.  She was recently appointed at the Murdough Master Clinician in Colorectal Surgery for outstanding contributions to her patients and University. She is the President elect of the Association of Women Surgeons. You can find her on twitter.


Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

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