By Jane Zhao
It has been FIVE years since we launched the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS): Inspiring & Encouraging Women Surgeons Blog. AWS launched the blog during a time when there were ZERO other surgical specialties that had social media platforms. The AWS was light years ahead of the curve. So much progress has been made in the past half of a decade; in addition to the success of the blog, the AWS social media presence has now evolved to become one of the leading organizations among surgical professional societies. We highlight some of the accomplishments made by women across surgery and within our own organization since 2013.
When we started this blog in 2013, few surgeons were on social media or blogging yet. In 2018, we have so many interested contributors that we have grown from monthly pieces to weekly scheduled posts. With over forty thousand followers across the various platforms, the connections forged through AWS social media channels are innumerable. None of this would have been possible without you. THANK YOU to all of our members for your ongoing support.
- AWS promotes its presence via three different social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and a blog. Blog posts are published 1-2 times per month.
- Book club begins with Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Today it has continued on, most recently with In the Land of Invisible Women by Dr. Qanta Ahmed.
- The Medical Student Committee permits the creation of medical school chapters of AWS.
- AWS creates a Social Media Subcommittee within the Communications Committee.
- Tweetchats using the hashtag #AWSchat begin with the topic “ “ as the inaugural chat.
- #HeForShe campaign spreads.
- #ILookLikeASurgeon becomes a global phenomenon.
- AWS signs the 2015 Bangkok Global Surgery Declaration: A Call to the Global Health Community to promote Implementation of the World Health Assembly Resolution for Surgery and Anesthesia Care.
- The AWS National Day of Service is created, with the goal of having one day where all chapters across the country get together with their members and spend time volunteering in their community.
- The Women Surgeons in Low & Middle Income Countries Award is established to enable a woman surgeon in a low- or middle-income country to attend a surgical meeting, participate in a workshop or other career development or educational opportunity.
- The AWS Instagram account uploads its first post.
Book Club for When Breath Becomes Air is hosted.
- The AWS releases statements about pay equity and sexual harassment and launches a gender equity toolkit.
- #NYerORCoverChallenge capitalizes on the success of the viral movement #ILookLikeASurgeon to challenge everyday stereotypes about how surgeons should look.
- AWS launches an Ambassador Program for new attendings.
- AWS announces a new member partnership with the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES).
- Dear Pat is introduced on the blog, as an advice column with a nod to Dear Abby and in honor of AWS Founder Dr. Patricia Numann.
- The first AWS Podcast is aired.
- Research suggests that by participating in social media, women in academic medicine may enhance personal and academic relationships that will assist in closing the gender divide.
- AWS Coaching Project is announced to support women trainees and reduce burnout.
These successes are only the tip of the iceberg of all that has been accomplished since the blog was launched. Each of the triumphs can be traced back to the cumulative, tireless efforts of our members, often from behind the scenes. We are forever grateful to the daring few who contributed their time and energy to create content for the blog and guarantee its successful inception. To make the last five years personal, here are some updates on what has taken place in the lives of some of our original bloggers.
When the blog was founded, Brittany Bankhead-Kendall was a preliminary surgery resident at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Now she is the academic chief resident of the University of Texas at Austin / Dell Medical School General surgery program in the first all women Chief class. She is now mom to a boy and a girl, a graduate of the surgical education research fellowship (SERF), and on her way to becoming a trauma and critical care fellow. She is also the proud principal investigator on research looking into unconscious gender bias and in a multicenter trial in trauma.
The last five years in a nutshell: Amalia Cochran has served as President of AWS and the Association for Surgical Education, been named a Distinguished Alumna of the Texas A&M School of Medicine, joined the faculty at THE Ohio State, became promoted to Professor, was bestowed the AEP Endowed Chair in Burn Surgery, and also serves as the Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Surgery. She has also run 25 half-marathons. She is currently working on building the burn and education programs at OSU to make them more fantastic. She also plans to keep running half marathons, rescuing animals, and going on yoga retreats in Montana.
Marie Crandall has had many accomplishments to boast about over the last five years. Highlights include her research on trauma deserts in Chicago contributing to the eventual opening of the University of Chicago as a trauma center, being promoted to full professor and Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery at the University of Florida, and being accepted as a Fellow of the American Surgical Association. She hopes to continue to foster research among her faculty and residents and advocate for social justice issues that affect communities. She’s grateful for the decade she has spent with the AWS and enjoys travel and time with family and friends. She loves her job right now and thinks this could be her terminal promotion. The photo taken is a picture of Marie on “potato chip rock” on the Mount Woodson hike in San Diego.
Since the launch of the blog, Heather Logghe has completed two years of preliminary general surgery residency, founded the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon that sparked a worldwide movement, and given birth to two children. She is widely lauded as one of the original surgeon leaders on Twitter and continues to champion the educational benefits of social media, such as with the hashtag #FOAMsurg. She is currently a Surgical Research Fellow in the department of Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital exploring the intersection of social media, patient care, research dissemination, and medication education.
Since writing for the AWS Blog in 2013, Sophia Kim McKinley has completed her Master of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and received her MD from Harvard Medical School. She began general surgery residency in 2014 at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she is now in her second year as the Surgical Education Research and Simulation Fellow. Sophia’s research focuses on patient experience with surgical resident care and the medical student learning environment. She will complete general surgery residency in 2021 and hopes to pursue fellowship in surgical oncology. Since, 2013, Sophia has also gotten married and is expecting her first child in Fall 2018. She and her husband Greg can’t wait to introduce their new daughter to the many joys of living in Cambridge, Mass. and their favorite hobbies: hiking and exploring the great outdoors.
Danielle Walsh was the president of the AWS when the blog was founded. After her term ended, she became involved in other professional organizations, such as SAGES, where she recently completed two terms as a committee chair and served on the Board of Governors, and the ACS, where she serves as a committee chair and rose through the ranks of the North Carolina Chapter of the ACS, serving as President. Nine months ago, she became the General Surgery Residency Program Director at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. She also services as the Vice Chair of Diversity and Inclusion the Department of Surgery, where she relies heavily on the experiences gained in the AWS.
Shortly after the inception of the blog, Lauren Nosanov gave birth to her daughter, received her MD from the University of Southern California, and moved to Washington, DC to start General Surgery residency. She has fostered a love of clinical research, focusing on Trauma and Burn surgery, which has been recognized at both a local and national level by the American Burn Association and the ACS Committee on Trauma. As a member of the ACS RAS Education Committee, she helped launch the inaugural “So You Think You Can Operate” resident skills competition. As the current Chair of the AWS Resident and Fellow committee, she is focused on increasing trainee engagement at both a local and national level. She plans to pursue fellowship in Burn surgery after completion of residency.
In the past five years, Callie Thompson completed her general surgery residency and a burn/trauma/critical care fellowship. She is now on faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN as a burn and trauma surgeon. She and her husband now have a 6th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartener. She had a fourth child last year. She remains a member of the AWS and is continually grateful for their role in supporting women in surgery.
This photo was taken at the start of her last case before maternity leave last year—she actually went into labor during that case!
Minerva Romero Arenas has much to be proud of in the half decade since the blog was launched. She completed general surgery residency at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and a fellowship in oncologic surgical endocrinology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. She is now an endocrine and general surgeon at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she serves as the medical student clerkship director. She has been a part of the blog team since its initiation in 2013 and now serves as the AWS blog subcommittee chair. She has always been passionate about recruiting the next generation of surgeons and continues to be heavily involved in mentoring through various organizations.
Jane Zhao, MD, MS is a general surgery resident with board eligibility in clinical informatics at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. She recently completed an ACGME-accredited clinical informatics fellowship and master’s degree in biomedical informatics at the University at Buffalo. She received her medical degree with a scholarly concentration in Clinical Quality, Safety, and Evidence-based Medicine from McGovern Medical School, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University where she majored in Medicine, Health and Society.
She is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. She was a finalist in the 2017 Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition and the 2012 recipient of the Shohrae Hajibashi Memorial Leadership Award. She was the founder and chair of the AWS Blog Subcommittee from 2013 to 2014 and a founding member of the AWS Social Media Subcommittee in 2013. She currently serves as the Resident and Associate Society Liaison for the American College of Surgeons Health Information Technology Committee. She remains a proud member of the AWS.
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.