By Alyssa Brown
I blame Camila Guetter for my involvement with the Association of Women Surgeon’s Blog. Well, blame is too strong of a word. I should say I am lucky that Camila Guetter told me that the AWS blog was looking for new team members. This was back in 2018. I was finishing my third year, taking Step 2, and planning to move to Rochester, MN for my PhD. I had applied to be the Social Media representative of the AWS Medical Student Division, but I did not receive the position. She mentioned that the AWS Blog team needed some new members, so I jumped at the chance. I wanted to be more involved with AWS nationally. Third year of medical school had been difficult between surviving a tough surgery rotation, applying to a PhD program, and being a black cloud on every service. I had found solace in the blog pieces I read on a weekly basis about women’s experiences in surgery.
Now that it’s 2022, I realize it has been almost four years. Over those four years, I have had the pleasure of writing thirteen pieces for the blog. I had to go back and count because I didn’t believe the number. When I started in 2018, I never would have guessed that I would write this many. I never thought I would enjoy writing blog pieces. I started writing one day in third year because I wanted to just get a patient’s story down. My hands flew across my keyboard at home – I had been bursting trying to keep the story inside. I had struggled with the feelings I had over the death of this patient. I wished so many things had gone differently, and I wished the outcome had been different. When I was done typing this story, I just sat there. I felt like a little bit of the weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had been able to write what I was feeling and how I was feeling. It was coping, and I was learning how to cope. This became my first piece for the blog.
Over the next four years, I wrote 12 other pieces (linked at the end). Sometimes they were about patients and hospital situations;others were just about feelings I was having. I found that I could channel what I was feeling and sorting through in my head into a document. It gave me the space to reflect on my journey and think through both the negatives and positives. It helped me capture some of my best and worst memories. I have never been one to journal, and I still don’t, but having the space to write about the things I am thinking and feeling has been cathartic.
Being part of the team has also allowed me to read pieces written by women across the world. That is the beauty of the blog: everyone brings their own stories. Also, I have gotten to meet and work with some of the best women. I am lucky to know and work with them. They are a constant in my life. A lot has changed since 2018, but the AWS Blog has helped me grow. I can’t wait to spend more years working with the blog team.
Alyssa Brown grew up in Chattanooga, TN. She went to Centre College for a B.S. in Biology and minor in History. She fell in love with surgery after seeing her mentor perform an anoplasty during the first year of medical school. She finished her third year of medical school in 2018 and wandered off the beaten path to get a PhD, before finishing her MD. She is receiving her MD degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and Physiology at Mayo Clinic School of Biomedical Sciences. She is in her fourth year of medical school back at Louisville and is in the application cycle for general surgery residency. Her thesis research is on diaphragm muscle mitochondrial function and morphology, which she will defend in March. She also participates in research projects focused on physician infertility, student mental health, and pediatric surgery. She has been a part of the AWS Blog Subcommittee and AWS Instagram Subcommittee for three years, and she has loved writing pieces for the blog over the past years. During the pandemic, you will probably find her baking sweets and pastries that she saw on “Great British Bake-Off,” or embroidering. You can find her on Instagram @Alyssa_b_futuremdphd and on Twitter @Alyssa_B_MDPhD.
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.