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A Medical Student’s Snapshot behind WIS

I first met Dr. Sharona Ross when she visited the University of South Florida medical school campus to speak to students about her journey in becoming a surgeon. She spoke passionately about her experience in surgical residency, at a time when the field was largely male-dominated. Dr. Ross discussed her vision to develop the Women in Surgery Career Symposium as an effort to advance women in the surgical field by providing meaningful ways for surgeons and students to interact and exchange ideas. As a medical student at the University of South Florida with aspirations of pursuing a career in surgery, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the organization of this exciting event. Not only would I be involved in planning the Annual Women in Surgery Career Symposium, but I would also have the chance to meet and learn from leaders in the surgical field. As a Planning Committee member, I was involved in each aspect of developing this event. My responsibilities included the creation of lecture topics, the recruitment and invitation of our guest lecturers, and the organization of the agenda for our three-day event. One of my primary goals was to expand outreach to medical students, which was accomplished through direct communication with the faculty and surgery interest groups at medical schools across the country. Last year, we achieved record attendance with over 350 students, residents, and practicing surgeons.

In addition to working with Dr. Ross while serving on the WIS Planning Committee, I have been fortunate to have her mentorship both professionally and academically for the past three years. In this time, I have learned that her commitment to the advancement of women in surgery, coupled with her limitless energy, have allowed her to succeed as a leader in the surgical field. She exhibits this same dedication to her medical students. Dr. Ross has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and support; ranging from teaching me how to suture abdominal incisions in the operative room to mentoring me in my research projects. Her approachable nature and positive outlook have resulted in an open-door policy that is well known to students. Last year, I had the opportunity to present the results of a research study along with my medical student colleagues at our annual WIS event in Baltimore, Maryland. I distinctly remember a near dozen medical students camped out in Dr. Ross’s hotel room as she listened to each of us practice our talks and encouraged our efforts. Whether it is a dozen medical students seeking her help or the two of us tackling the next step of our research study, Dr. Ross’s enthusiasm and dedication are contagious. As a result, she inspires those around her to be just as passionate, hardworking, and motivated to achieve their goals.

With plans underway for the 4th Annual Women in Surgery Career Symposium 2013 in San Francisco, California, our Planning Committee looks forward to organizing a great event featuring leaders in the surgical field and creating opportunities to further networking and mentorship.

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