I was sitting in the back row at the inaugural meeting for the Latino Surgical Society when the introductions around the room began. As each person introduced themselves, it felt as though their levels of prestige kept rising. First some residents, then fellows followed by attendings and chairs of their respective surgical specialties. Then it got to me. Shawn Izadi, 3rd year medical student from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine (UTRGV SOM). It was eye-opening to be in a room with such incredible humans with even more incredible stories detailing their journey to surgery and medicine. That was the beginning of my humbling experience at the 2018 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress (ACS).
Several of my classmates and I, whom are members of our school’s surgery interest group (SIG), were graciously awarded this opportunity to attend ACS by the Director of the Medical Student Surgery Clerkship at UTRGV SOM, Dr. Minerva Romero Arenas. A group of us were selected based on winning an essay contest put on by the SIG that surrounded the theme of this year’s Association of Women Surgeons Conference: Dare to be You. Being in the inaugural class of a medical program that is only 3 years young means that it can be difficult to find good advice and powerful mentors. Especially when there are no senior students to turn to. ACS provided an incredible opportunity to interact with residents and experts in the field of surgery at programs across the nation to connect and listen to each of their special stories.
In medicine and surgery, everyone has a story. Everyone has their own personal pilgrimage that they undertake into the world of surgery. And as much as the ACS Clinical Congress allowed me the experience to be informed on the ‘latest and greatest’ research, network with professionals from across the country, and play with the fanciest gadgets- it served more as a vehicle of motivation to propel me forward into surgery.
I connected with residents who spoke of their struggles to get accepted into medical school due to their difficult upbringing. I laughed with other medical students as we reminisced on our hysterical first experiences in the OR. I listened to a surgeon present on her research that was fueled by the struggles she faced as a medical student. I absorbed advice from fellows and attendings on the pitfalls to avoid in the application process to residency and beyond. To say that I was fueled by an unwavering fire towards the world of surgery after this conference would be an understatement. I hope to use the entire experience as a catalyst that helps guide me with a stronger conviction towards a specialty and practice that is bigger than any individual: surgery. And I hope all medical students interested in surgery get this opportunity as well. From a medical student who continues towards the path of surgery: Thank you #ACSCC18.