Association of Women Surgeons Foundation Awards Gala: A Wonderful Night with Friends and an Inspiration for the Future

11 Nov 2022

By Kathleen Romanowski, MD, MAS, FACS

I had not gotten dressed up for a night out in a long time.  In fact, it is the rare day that I wear anything other than scrubs or pajamas. As I prepared to attend the Association of Women Surgeons Foundation (AWSF) Awards Gala, I was excited.  Not only was I getting to wear a fancy dress for one of the first times in two and a half years, but I was also going to get to spend an evening with my friends.  It has been a long time since we had the chance to gather in the same room to celebrate each of us and the friendships we have forged over the years and reward the best among us.

The AWSF Awards Gala was an event that pre-pandemic, I looked forward to every year.  It is hard to describe fully what makes it so special, but it just feels like coming home in a way.  It is always fun to look around the room and see many inspiring women surgeons. Some are chairs of departments, the greats of American surgery, those who we aspire to be like.  Some are my closest friends, my former co-residents, and those who we “grew up” with as surgeons.  Some are the next generation of medical students and residents, future leaders, and hope for years to come. Together we are so much stronger than we are apart, and this feels especially true on this one night a year.

Beyond being a wonderful place to catch up with other women surgeons, the AWSF Awards Gala is where the AWSF recognizes its award winners. From medical students to senior mentors, excellence in surgery is recognized each year. It is always so inspiring to hear about why each person was nominated.  Their stories are all so varied, but they are each such amazing role models for others. The award winners this year were:

The Dr. Nina Starr Braunwald Award:
Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS
American College of Surgeons

The Dr. Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award:
Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS, FCCM, MAMSE
Inova Healthcare System & University of Virginia

Association of Women Surgeons Past Presidents’ Honorary Member Award:
East Virginia Medical School

The Dr. Sally Abston Association of Women Surgeons Distinguished Member Award:
Mara Antonoff, MD, FACS
MD Anderson

The Dr. Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award:
Deshka Foster, MD, PhD
Stanford University

The Dr. Patricia Numann Medical Student Award:
Paige Ashley Campbell, MD
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

The Dr. Charles W. Putnam Distinguished Mentor Award:
Justin Dimick, MD, MPH
University of Michigan

Congratulations to all the award winners. You are all a credit to our profession and such an inspiration to us all.

Consider donating to the Association of Women Surgeons Foundation and consider joining the Association of Women Surgeons.  If you are already a member and have a story to share please consider volunteering to write a blog.


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 the University of Chicago Medical Center. She did fellowships in Burn Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at the 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 Vice Chair of the AWS Communications Committee and Faculty Co-Chair of the AWS Blog Sub-committee. You can find her on twitter at @KSRomanowski.

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