I vividly remember the first time I attended the Academic Surgical Congress (ASC) in San Antonio in 2010. I was a lab resident at the meeting to present my research and I felt completely overwhelmed by the size and breadth of the meeting. I had not been involved with the Association for Academic Surgery as a medical student because I had always planned on being a pediatrician. It wasn’t until my third-year surgery clerkship that I realized that the operating room was where I truly belonged. I had wonderful mentors at my home institution that took me under their wings when I made the decision to go into surgery and who guided me through the application process for general surgery residency. I ended up staying at my home institution for residency and continued to work with my same mentors through my first two years of residency. It had never occurred to me to look outside my institution for mentorship.
It wasn’t until a year or so later that I realized that I might need to look outside of my institution for mentoring and support as I was choosing a career path that was very different from what I originally intended. At the time I was unsure of where to turn. I started to reach out to people without a formal introduction and while I had some success with that, more often than not I got no reply. I was discouraged initially but eventually I thought back to the ASC meeting and knew that there were several people who I met at the meeting that I could turn to with my questions.
Through AAS, I have found some of my most crucial and long-standing mentors. These people have helped me with some of the most important decisions of my career and have been there to help me through some career tribulations. AAS is a wonderful organization for bringing together the community of academic surgeons. It allows us to make connections across institutions, specialties and research interests.
Previously, many of these connections occurred at the annual meeting. While this served as a wonderful place to make in person connections, it limited the ability of those who were unable to make the trip to the meeting to partake in critical networking opportunities. In an effort to expand the mentorship opportunities available to all members of AAS, the Committee on Information and Technology developed a new searchable member directory for the organization. The goal of this was to simplify the membership profile that was previously in place to encourage more members to fill in their profile. Additionally, the new member directory added a searchability function that allows members to search the directory based on details such as specialty, research interest, and willingness to be a mentor.
How can you make use of this new tool? The first thing to do is to fill out your member profile. To do this, sign on to the AAS website: https://www.aasurg.org/login/. You will then want to go to your dashboard and about ¾ of the way down the page you will see the following link which will take you to the new membership profile:
After filling out your profile you can visit the membership directory at the following link: https://www.aasurg.org/aas-membership/membership-directory/ and use the search function on the right-hand side of the page to find other members who are looking to mentor others or just find people who have interests similar to you.
AAS is a great place to find mentors who can help guide you as you traverse your surgical career, and now finding them just got a little easier.