Monday, February 17, 2014

Blogger Q&A: Why AWS?

Brittany Bankhead-Kendall, MD: Camaraderie and advice from women in the same boat as I! As women surgeons we are in a very unique situation and it's so beneficial to have others who have walked before you and have practical advice and inspiration to offer.

Christina Cellini, MD
: I originally joined AWS to take advantage of the excellent research funding opportunities that are offered. I have benefited from remaining a member by being inspired by other members who are able to balance work and family and are open and realistic about the many challenges we face in our field.

Amalia Cochran, MD
: I joined AWS as a resident when I realized the networking benefits that membership provided. I attended my first AWS meeting in Chicago and still remember being very impressed with this roomful of women surgeons (because, quite frankly, we had 3 women surgeons on faculty where I was a resident, and had no women surgeons on faculty where I went to med school). It was an exciting prospect for me!

As an AWS member, I have benefitted from precisely those networking opportunities. I’ve received some great advice on wisdom over the years from women who are senior to me and I’ve had the opportunity to mentor women who are junior to me. One of the important lessons I’ve learned is that of shared experiences and what we can learn from each other; while we often have a tendency to think that a challenge is unique to each of us as individuals, more often than not someone else has been through something similar and is eager to share what they did right and what they did wrong. 

Erin Gilbert, MD: I joined as a medical student because I was concerned about being a woman surgeon in a predominantly male field (at the time!) 

Celeste Hollands, MD: I joined the AWS in order to apply for the AWS Ethicon grant. Receiving that grant funding launched my academic career. The personal and professional relationships I have developed as a result of becoming involved in the AWS have guided and supported my career and afforded me the opportunity to lead with a group of women I am proud to share my personal and professional journey with.

Bharti Jasra, MD: I was introduced to AWS by my mentor Dr Janet Tuttle-Newhall. She not only introduced me to it but also paid for my membership. Since then I had the opportunity to not only meet and get inspired by great women surgeons but also network with fellow residents and students. Overall it has been a great experience and I would like to continue to work for this organization after completing residency this year.

Sophia Kim McKinley: I joined AWS on a lark - I had just developed an interest in surgery and wanted to see what kind of resources there were for students going into surgery. I did a quick internet search for "Women in Surgery" and that is how I found out about AWS! I was so pleased to discover the electronic version of the Pocket Mentor as well as information about the annual AWS meeting. At that time, none of my friends were planning on going into general surgery, so it was a great comfort to find an organization committed to the flourishing of women like myself. I wanted career resources, the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, and perhaps even some mentoring. AWS membership has given me all of these things and more, including the chance to contribute to the organization's mission through participating on the medical student committee and writing for the wonderful AWS Blog. When more junior medical students approach me about resources for medical students interested in surgery, I always point to AWS!

Lauren Nosanov: I initially was introduced to the AWS through one of our newer female surgeons. I was immediately impressed by the incredible level of professional success represented by the AWS membership. Through my involvement with social media and the Communications Committee, I have come to be better acquainted with a number of members and organization leaders. Each of these women continually impresses me and inspires me, and serves as a reminder of the person and surgeon I want to become. I am grateful for both the friendships and mentorships that have emerged, and expect to be involved for many years to come.

Minerva Romero-Arenas, MD: I joined the AWS to find a support network and mentors in surgery who are open to discussing ways in which women can become leaders in our field. I have truly enjoyed the initiatives from the Association for education, networking, and scholarship.

Mona Singh: I joined AWS at the end of my third year of medical school, shortly after I realized I wanted to be a surgeon. I wanted to get to know, learn from, and be part of an inclusive community of women surgeons at various levels in their career and representing diverse surgical specialties, practices, and perspectives. I was looking for inspirational and grounded mentors and role models, as well as a community where I would be welcome to contribute and grow as a surgeon-in-training. I renew my AWS membership because I have truly found both in this association.

Callie Thompson, MD: I joined because I wanted to connect with more female surgeons. I am surrounding by amazing role models and mentors and I wanted to seek out a greater community of women in surgery. I would say that I have not taken advantage of even 10% of what AWS has to offer but I have received wonderful advice and support from the online community and I look forward to experiencing more in the future.

Jessica Wilson
: I study medicine in a country where doctors regularly imply (or sometimes just state outright) that I can't/shouldn't be a surgeon because I am female- that perhaps I should become a pediatrician or a family physician, because those careers are better suited to the demands of womanhood. I joined AWS to learn more about the profession of surgery, to make connections with other surgeons, and to be a part of an encouraging community.

Jane Zhao: At the time I joined, I was involved in the creation of a women in surgery lecture series at my school, and Dr. Lillian Kao suggested that I check out the AWS. Dr. Rosemary Kozar provided extra incentive by offering to sponsor my first year's membership. I can't thank my lucky stars enough that I joined. Since that time, I have forged some truly wonderful friendships and have been blessed to work with extremely talented and open-minded individuals to introduce new initiatives such as social media to the surgical community. I plan on renewing my AWS membership annually for the indefinite future, and I am excited to continue making meaningful contributions to the community via the AWS.

Why did YOU join the Association of Women Surgeons? Share with us in the comments below.

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