By Cheryl Zogg
From a simple sign at a national conference to a thriving organization with thousands of members around the globe and key collaborations with many of the world’s leading surgical societies, the Association of Women Surgeons has grown into an influential organization that continues to touch the lives of women surgeons throughout their careers. In few places is AWS’s influence more evident than in what the organization has come to mean to its medical student members, the women surgeons of tomorrow.
Following the most competitive application cycle in the Association of Women Surgeons National Medical Student Committee’s history with more than 140 applications for 22 roles, it is my extreme pleasure as the incoming Committee Chair to introduce the 2020-2021 National Medical Student Committee:
Hailing from 7 countries, 17 US states, and 7 different AWS regions (not counting the Regional Representatives, who themselves come from 11 of 12 different AWS regions around the world with medical student chapters), this group of passionate, talented, and inspiring surgeons-to-be blew us away! I am thrilled to get to work with them this year and to continue to build on the incredible accomplishments that last year’s Committee set as an example. It is moments like these that make it clear in my mind why I am a part of AWS and why I will continue to be throughout my career. In writing this blog to celebrate the start of their terms as a part of the National Medical Student Committee, I want to share with you what it is that AWS has come to mean to us as the medical students whose lives this organization continues to touch in deeply meaningful ways.
Shan Lansing, Vice Chair (2020-2021): Being involved with AWS has been an instrumental part of my journey to a career in surgery. I joined the AWS National Medical Student Committee in 2019 to give back to the organization that gave me a multitude of opportunities. As a member of AWS, I served as a reviewer for The American Journal of Surgery, presented research at the AWS Annual Conference, and connected with strong surgeon mentors. Serving as Social Media & Marketing Coordinator (2019-2020) was a unique opportunity to contribute to all of our major committee-wide initiatives and utilize AWS platforms to share the opportunities and resources with medical students across the globe. Among many projects, we used social media to recruit mentors and mentees for the inaugural URM Mentorship Program, share our subspecialty resource guides, and request input from Underrepresented in Medicine (UiM) surgeons for a qualitative study on the impact of intersectionality. I am so looking forward to overseeing the continuation of these programs as Vice Chair and supporting new initiatives that our incredible incoming Committee will pilot.
Abra Shen, Chief of Chapter Development (2020-2021): I have truly loved working with an international group of passionate aspiring women surgeons! As the New England Representative (2019-2020), I had the opportunity to organize and lead a regional conference that brought together almost 50 medical students and 20 residents and attendings in workshops, panels, speed networking, and talks (including a keynote by my mentor Dr. Susan Pories)! I also contributed to committee-wide initiatives such as developing specialty resource guides and assisting with research projects focused on sharing the stories of women in surgery. It was a joy to work with AWS chapters within my region last year, and I’m thrilled to be working with all Regional Representatives this coming year as the Chief of Chapter Development. AWS has provided me with life-long mentorships and friendships which I will always be grateful for. I’m so excited to welcome the incoming Committee to this family and work with them on strengthening the community of AWS members all over the globe!
The lasting friendships, life-changing opportunities, career advancements, impressive accomplishments, and amazing group of women surgeons we get to interact with on a daily basis are powerful and lasting gifts felt by us all. This is why we are a part of AWS, and it is certainly #WhyIAWS. To borrow a line from our outgoing Committee Chair Ashley Choi: this is my tribe and my home. To the outgoing Committee and AWS as a whole, thank you for all you do!
Cheryl Zogg, MSPH, MHS, is an MD-PhD Candidate at Yale School of Medicine where she is currently in the process of completing her PhD in Chronic Disease Epidemiology (Quantitative Health Services Research). She is the incoming 2020-2021 Chair of the AWS National Medical Student Committee and a Medical Student Member of the AWS Blog. Her clinical and research interests lie in the intersection of health policy and quality as it pertains to outcomes of surgical patients and differential access to care. She is funded by an F30 from the National Institute on Aging. Outside of work, Cheryl is an avid dancer, traveler, bookworm, and (aspiring) runner who loves to mentor and teach. She anticipates a career in academic surgery with an intention to combine cutting-edge clinical research and clinical practice. Cheryl is excited to return to her third year on the AWS National Medical Student Committee and to work with an amazing group of women rising to leadership this year! She can be found on Twitter @CherylZogg.
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.