For this Holiday Season, in this very strange year, The AAS Senior Council would like to share some thoughts on how thankful we are to be members of the AAS and how it has impacted all of our careers in many different ways. We compiled these thoughts from our council members to share with you all.
1. How has the AAS improved your Academic Surgical Career?
- The networking and support the organization gives to surgeons in training and early in a career is very important. It can often be difficult to navigate the world of academic surgery outside of your own institution, particularly for those who might be at places where academic mentorship might be harder to come by. It also allows for networking and building of relationships with national and international colleagues that can be important in a career and energizes people by finding those with common interests
- The opportunity to meet with colleagues from other specialties beyond my own has been unique and rewarding. We are all members of our specialty societies and organizations, but as result only meet individuals from our own specialty. AAS brings academic surgeons from all disciplines and specialties and allows them to interact. This has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a part of AAS
- Leadership opportunities at a fairly early stage in my career.
- There are many ways – the two Fall courses sponsored by the AAS, involvement with Journal of Surgical Research, finding collaborators for research.
- Creating a supportive venue for medical students, residents, and junior faculty to present their work.
2. What was one of your most memorable ASC experiences/memories?
- Being part of the executive council as a Councilor. This was an opportunity to engage in the organization and be able to form relationships that led to meaningful engagement and contributions to the organization.
- There was a session on “memorable failures…” a few years ago, in which several prominent surgeons reminisced about events/ circumstances in which things did not go well or as planned and what they learned, and how they recovered. It was sobering to hear such well-known leaders talk about such humbling experiences.
- Each year I truly enjoy the lunch sessions that honor the lifetime achievements of the true icons of our specialty. It is inspiring to learn about the courses that their careers have taken.
- The first time one of my residents and medical students presented at the AAS.
- Planning the Fundamentals of Surgical Research Course with Herb Chen and my Visiting fellowship to the Colombian Surgical Society
- Meeting Michael DeBakey at one of the earliest ASC conferences in Houston (Man, do I feel old)
- All of the Fall courses I have attended where I have learned something new at each one of them.
3. Why should a medical student or resident join the AAS?
- This is the one surgical organization where those early in their career can be involved. It is also the best opportunity in surgery for students and residents to interact with peers who will be colleagues for years to come.
- I think there are very few if any organizations that value and focus on medical students and residents as much as the AAS. The opportunity to meet and be exposed to academic leaders across so many surgical specialties is an exceptional experience. Furthermore, the AAS provides opportunities for career development and advancement that are geared towards trainees and novice learners.
- Opportunity to meet colleagues and mentors early on in one’s career in a low-stress environment and provides the opportunity to present work in a supportive atmosphere.
- So that they realize that their academic future is tied to a robust collaborative network that can be facilitated by the AAS/SUS.
- A collaborative environment that helps forge relationships and anneal academic productivity. A low-pressure environment in which you are able to interact with surgeons from other institutions (as well as your own) at all stages of their careers… from junior faculty to chairmen, deans, and CEOs.
- The organization is truly eye-opening and allows you to understand academic surgery, research, and career paths from surgeons around the country. The ability for early committee involvement as a resident, fellow, or young faculty.
4. How has the AAS changed over the years?
- It has grown significantly, in large part owing to the success of the ASC. This took the organization from one that was small in scope, and focused primarily on junior faculty, to having a much bigger tent. As it has matured, it has become more focused on residents and a larger number of opportunities exist in that regard. Finally, it was perhaps the first of the surgical organization to embrace health-services research as a large part of the surgical science mission, something that now makes up the majority of the science associated with the meeting.
- The AAS has evolved with time to support and develop the new generation of academic surgeons. As the challenges for academic advancement have changed, the AAS has adapted to continue to provide opportunities to allow surgeons to develop their careers and progress in the research disciplines they were interested in. Beyond traditional basic and translational science research, it has also fostered health services and educational research, which were not traditionally considered mainstream, but thanks to AAS are now at the forefront of the research agenda.
- The quality of the research and presentations has continued to improve as well as the size of the meeting.
- It has become a more robust academic organization and our work with the SUS has made that even more so.
- Increasing diversity of specialties represented and under-represented minorities and women
- The biggest change, to me, has been the marked increase in quantity and quality of health services research that is presented.
- On the forefront of the use of technology to promote the mission and the ASC.
5. What would like to see for the future of the AAS?
- Continue to foster growth, development, and opportunities for junior faculty in addition to residents. Don’t lose focus on the importance of this, particularly for faculty who might be at institutions where academic mentorship might not be as broadly available.
- I would like the AAS to continue to change and adapt to support surgeons and their academic mission. Being an asset and providing opportunities particularly to surgeons who may work in an environment that does not have all the resources to achieve what they want in their academic career should be an important consideration.
- Further movement toward more overlap between SUS and AAS, work toward having the groups focus on similar issues, and streamline the activities of the two groups, hopefully this can lead to a decrease in redundancy of work for each.
- To continue to embrace the contributions that still can be made by senior members of the organization and to continue our rigorous scientific approach to academic surgery.
- Continued diversification and partnership with other surgical societies; more traveling fellowship opportunities.
- More opportunities for younger people and under-represented minorities. A better collaboration with the SUS and ASA.
- Improved mentoring opportunities and funding for young faculty. As the organization continues to grow, do not lose focus on the primary mission.
Jeffrey Farma, MD
Michael Meyers, MD
Imran Hassan, MD
Mitchell Norotsky, MD
Adam Berger, MD
Joseph Rappold, MD
Suresh “Mitu” Agarwal, MD