“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
The last year has been difficult for all of us. Nevertheless, the AAS had a very successful year under the steadfast leadership of our immediate Past President, Eugene Kim. Imagine, just a year ago we were together in Orlando celebrating the start of his Presidency and the conclusion of another outstanding Academic Surgical Congress. As we embark on a new year and celebrate how the 2021 ASC delivered beyond anything that we could have ever imagined, I want to take a moment to reflect on what our experiences mean for the AAS and our outstanding community of students, residents, staff, and faculty.
The next year will no doubt continue to pose challenges. Many of us are still hurting and struggling with the consequences of the past year.
While there is no clear end date in sight, we cannot let that deter us from pushing forward with the core mission of the AAS—To Inspire and Develop Young Academic Surgeons.
As the largest academic surgical organization in the world, we hold dearly these six core values.
No matter what challenges come before us, we cannot stray from these principles. In fact, we must rely most heavily on them, especially our sense of Community as we serve as pillars of support for each other.
Together, we must recognize that the crippling pandemic and social injustices we have witnessed in 2020 have disproportionately affected some of our colleagues—women bearing the undue burden of a society still fraught with gender inequity; minorities struggling with the realities of systemic racism; young faculty seeking to establish their academic careers; fellows graduating into a healthcare system trying to stay afloat and where jobs are harder to come by; residents in training grappling with the significant physical and psychological strain of learning their craft while being on the front line of a global pandemic, and the list goes on.
For those of you who are struggling, we see you, we hear you, and we are here for you.
With all of these realities in mind, I want to take this moment to introduce you to what I hope we can do together in 2021 and beyond.
Let’s look to 2021 as the Year of Opportunity.
It is important that we continue to develop and foster new goals and dreams, while also allowing life to come to us and embracing the unknown through a focus on intentional growth. While we all wish for a return to normalcy, setting arbitrary dates for that return will only frustrate us.
The maddening changes and realities we witness with new Covid variants, vaccine delivery hurdles, and ongoing systemic racism cannot dissuade us from progress. Rather we can harness and create new opportunities for success. Opportunity may look different to each of us, yet is often best realized by a diverse group with a shared set of values…like the AAS! Let’s harness the power of the speed and adaptability we have all born witness to over the last year, recognize our brothers and sisters who are in pain or struggling, and forge ahead as one. I love each and every one of you and hope we can create an even better future with a Year of Opportunity.
In the coming weeks, I will communicate a plan for how the AAS will support each of you in realizing your goals and seizing opportunity as we adapt to the changing world around us. If you have ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Thank you again for the privilege and honor of serving as your President. I stand committed to our collective success.
P.S. Please enjoy (and share) the music video below, “Lean on Me”, produced by Dorry Segev with musical contributions from many of you! It encapsulates the love and support we all need right now.