AWS News & Opportunities

AWS & AWSF News:


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May 2024 Book Review

Book Review: Brave Boundaries by Sasha Shillcutt, M.D.

Reviewed by: Denise Nemeth, OMS III

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May 2024 Mentor Spotlight

Mentor Spotlight: Brittney Williams, MD MPH

Mentor Bio: Brittney Williams is from Newark, NJ and attended Howard University for undergraduate education and medical school. She completed her General Surgery residency at UNC Chapel Hill, during which she obtained her MPH in global public health and was an NIH Fogarty Global Health fellow. She is now a Thoracic Surgery fellow at Emory University.

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SAAS-AWS Resident Research Travel Award


The Society of Asian Academic Surgeons (SAAS)-Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) Resident Travel Award is a $1000 travel grant supporting attendance of a surgical resident trainee at the SAAS Annual Meeting. The meeting this year will be hosted by Tulane University, Department of Surgery, from Sept 5-6, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisana.

Deadline for applications: May 31, 2024
Notification of award by: July 12, 2024

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Call for ACS Governor to AWS

Please join us in thanking Susan Pories, MD, FACS for her years of service to ACS and AWS!
As Dr. Pories is nearing the end of her final term, AWS is requesting interest in the ACS Governor position.  Per the AWS Policy and Procedures:
The AWS Governor to the College serves a three-year term, which may be renewed for one additional three-year term. Reappointment of the AWS Governor will be made and approved by vote of the Council. AWS selects a primary and secondary candidate and submits this recommendation to the College who will make the final decision on the Governor position.
Nominees for AWS Governor must:
· be clinically active.
· be a current member of AWS.
· be a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in good standing.
· have served on the AWS Council for a minimum of three years.  Current members of the AWS council who have served a minimum of three years on the Council are eligible.
· be able to attend all AWS Council meetings and Executive Committee meetings (approximately 6-8 per year with one meeting occurring at the October ACS meeting and one other face-to-face meeting in January, February or March.  All other meetings are via conference call.)
· provide a report at each Council and Executive Committee meeting on issues relevant to AWS and our membership
· be able to attend all Governor meetings and adequately represent AWS and our issues.
If you are interested in self-nominating or nominating another AWS member, please share name, email address, and updated CV  by email to [email protected].  This same posting will go out to all AWS members next week.  All nominations are due before Thursday, May 30, 2024.
Submit Nomination

Starr Research Forum

AWS Starr Research Forum

Calling all students, residents, and fellows with research to share!
Due May 30, 2024

Student, resident and fellow members of AWS may submit up to two abstracts for the AWS Starr Medical Student and Resident Research Forum at the 2024 AWS Annual Conference. Abstracts are limited to 300 words and must have an Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions, and supporting author information. Incomplete abstracts will not be considered. Case reports and literature reviews will not be accepted. The deadline is 11:59PM EST on May 30.

Abstracts presented at other conferences are allowed, except for abstracts that you plan to present at the ACS conference. You cannot send an abstract on a project that is published prior to the conference. If your abstract is accepted, you must register for the 2024 AWS Annual Conference as a Student/Resident and present your work in person during the Scientific Session at the conference. (Please note that this session does not conflict with the medical student or resident activities at the ACS Clinical Congress.)

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Call for Applications: SBAS & AWS Visiting Professorship

The Society of Black Academic Surgeons (SBAS) and the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) Visiting Professorship

Call for Host Institutions

Application Deadline: August 12, 2024


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Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Julie Samora

Dr. Julie Samora is a pediatric hand surgeon at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH, where she is Associate Chief Quality Officer and director of quality improvement within the department of orthopaedics. She received her orthopaedic training at Ohio State University and completed a fellowship in hand and upper extremity surgery at Harvard.  She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University, a Master of Music at Yale University, and an MD/PhD at West Virginia University, where she concomitantly earned a master of public health and public administration.  Dr. Samora is a founding member of Pride Ortho, has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (past president) and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (member-at-large), and is currently on the BOD of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.  She has published more than 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts and is co-editor of the Springer textbook: Quality Improvement and Patient Safety in Orthopaedics.  Dr. Samora has a passion for providing safe, efficient, culturally sensitive, and excellent patient care, focusing on best practices and quality improvement initiatives.

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Book Review: March 2024

You Are Not Broken

Author: Kelly Capserson, MD
Book Reviewer: Sarah Suhood, OMS III


Author Bio

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Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Laura DiChiacchio

Dr. Laura DiChiacchio is a current cardiothoracic surgery fellow at the University of Utah Hospital. She will graduate in June and then join Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as an advanced fellow in thoracic transplantation and mechanical circulatory support. She completed her general surgery training at the University of Maryland/R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, MD. She is a graduate of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where she completed a PhD in Biophysics, Structural & Computational Biology before falling in love with surgery at the end of her clinical rotations. During her general surgery training, she spent two years as a post-doctoral research fellow in the cardiac xenotransplantation laboratory of Drs. Muhammad Mohiuddin and Bartley Griffith, cementing her relationship with cardiac surgery and thoracic transplantation. She is a happy wife and proud mother to her son Henry.

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NIH CSR Reviewer

National Institute of Health CSR Reviewer Pool

AWS Members Can Apply by January 31 for Quarter 1

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) has requested recommendations for AWS members willing and qualified to serve in the NIH CSR Reviewer Pool. Interested candidates are asked to complete the submission form below.

Nominated scientists should meet the following criteria:
• willing to serve as reviewers
• seen as experts, with integrity, in their field.
• have an active research program, extramural funding, and not currently be a standing member of an NIH study section or advisory council.
• productive scientists from diverse backgrounds and career stages – e.g. assistant, associate, and full professors.

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Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Meredith Baker MD

Dr. Meredith Baker MD, pediatric surgeon and attending physician at Maine Medical Center, grew up in the state of New Hampshire. She recounts following her veterinarian father around in childhood and that for as long as she can remember, she wanted to be a “doctor for human children.” However, it was not until medical school that she realized the type of doctor for children she wanted to be was a pediatric surgeon.

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Book Review: November 2023

“Become the Boss MD: Success Beyond Residency”

Author: Amy Vertrees

Book Reviewer: Denise Nemeth, OMS III

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Book Review: September 2023


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Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Christen Russo

Dr. Christen Russo is an attending orthopaedic surgeon and associate professor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC). She specifically focuses on pediatric orthopaedics, and outside of the clinic she has established herself as a prominent leader and mentor within the orthopaedics community. Dr. Russo graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in English Literature & Literary History, after which she earned her M.D. at SUNY Downstate. She completed a general surgery internship at Brown University followed by orthopaedic surgery residency at SUNY Downstate and pediatric orthopaedics fellowship at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital/CUIMC. In addition to her clinical and university positions, she currently serves as the President of the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society, an organization that aims to support women and minorities in pursuing careers in orthopaedic surgery. 

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Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Julie K Freed

Physician Scientists are uniquely positioned to bridge scientific discovery and clinical care. As such, our training involves learning clinical skills, understanding how to design and test hypotheses, as well as mastering the art of writing and presenting our findings. While these are crucial for developing our clinical-care skills and research acumen, there are innumerous other professional opportunities that physician scientists often partake in, including national or institutional leadership, medical/graduate education, outreach and mentorship, policy/advocacy, industrial consulting, and entrepreneurship. As such, training MD-PhD students often requires a personalized approach that empowers them to gain the skills necessary for their unique career interests.

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Book Review: July 2023

Behind Her Scalpel: A Practical Guide to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery with Stories of Female Surgeons 

Authored and Edited by Cathy Hung, DDS

Dr. Cathy Hung is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a solo practice owner in New Jersey. She is a native of Taipei, Taiwan and came to the US alone at age eighteen on a student visa. She earned her BS in psychology with a minor in music from UC Berkeley and DDS from Columbia University. She received her OMFS training from Lincoln Medical and Mental Center in the Bronx, New York. She is an alumna of the American Dental Association’s Institute for Diversity in Leadership program. She is also a speaker, writer, and Certified Life Coach in cultural competency. She is an author, blogger, and selected member of Forbes’ Women Forum and Rebecca Minkoff’s Female Founders Collective.

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Book Review: May 2023

"Letter to a Young Female Physician: Thoughts on Life and Work" by Dr. Suzanne Koven

Dr. Suzanne Koven begins her essay collection, “Letter to a Young Female Physician: Thoughts on Life and Work”, as one might expect – with a letter.[1] As she watches a crop of incoming interns write letters to their future selves, she reflects on her own career: the pressures she faced to prove herself, to value her skills, and to serve her patients well. This was in 2017, and it seems anecdotally that the call for reflection has come earlier and earlier in medical training in recent years. As a medical student (still a year away from intern orientation), I’ve participated in innumerable letter-writing exercises just like the one that inspired Dr. Koven. In this book, Dr. KoveN shows us why these reflections are so important. Dr. Koven describes a background caught between the arts and the sciences. As the daughter of an orthopedic surgeon, surrounded from an early age by men who practiced medicine, she always had an idea of the role of the doctor. Whether she saw herself in that role is a bit more complicated – in her book, she details the struggles that she felt in her early science courses, that science felt “unnatural” to her, despite her earning good grades. She attended Yale for college, where she studied English Literature. She then went on to Johns Hopkins for medical school and residency in primary care internal medicine, after which she joined Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital where she is now Writer-in-Residence.[2]

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Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Jennifer Plichta

Dr. Jennifer Plichta is a breast surgeon at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, North Carolina. She graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana and completed her residency at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. She completed her fellowship training in breast surgical oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Plichta is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Population Health Sciences at Duke University, and she serves as the Director of the Breast Risk Assessment Clinic and Co-Director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at the Duke Cancer Institute. In addition, Dr. Plichta takes time to mentor many students throughout different stages of training at Duke University School of Medicine. She also helps to educate her local community about breast cancer and breast health.

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Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Minerva Romero Arenas

Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Minerva Romero Arenas

Dr. Romero is an Endocrine and General Surgeon at NYP Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. She is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Romero Arenas completed a fellowship in Oncologic Surgical Endocrinology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. She completed her General Surgery Residency at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. She earned her Medical Doctorate and Master of Public Health degrees from The University of Arizona College of Medicine and the Zuckerman College of Public Health. She studied Cell Biology and French at Arizona State University as an undergraduate.

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