SUS 2021 Presidential Address
Sandra Wong, MD, MS
Dr. Sandra Wong immediately highlighted that her being President is due to the unwavering professional and personal support of her many friends and mentors who have guided her through her journey. Drs. Polk, Richardson, McMasters, Brennan, Mulholland, Doherty and Birkmeyer were highlighted as sterling mentors, supporters, colleagues, and friends.
Dr. Wong continued by graciously expressing her gratitude and appreciation to past Presidents, current officers, members of the different SUS task forces, Yumi Hori and the BSC staff for their support. She thanked her faculty, trainees and staff at Dartmouth, as well as her family.
Dr. Wong highlighted the LTAA recipient Keith Lillemoe, former SUS President, who pushed for a more inclusive scientific agenda which included clinical trials, so that academic surgery could remain relevant.
She highlighted George Yang, the recipient of the first Trailblazer Award, former SUS president and current President of the SUS Foundation, who was celebrated for being the driving force behind the formation of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons.
Dr. Wong has been an incredibly successful researcher. One of Dr. Wong’s successful research projects, SIMPRO, was constructed with Drs. Osarogiagbon and Schrag. This electronic patient reported outcomes platform fosters self-efficacy in patients to improve their engagement and outcomes. Gastrointestinal, gynecological and thoracic oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy or cancer operations were offered SIMPRO at six academic institutions. Supporting self-efficacy in patients highlighted that surgeons also need self-efficacy. Our professional societies foster self-efficacy and allow for personal and professional growth.
What is self-efficacy?
The theory of self-efficacy was developed by the psychologist Albert Bandera in the 1970s and is the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.
Self-efficacy is the belief that one can achieve what one sets out to do. Individuals with high self-efficacy are more likely to believe they can master challenging problems and they recover quickly from setbacks allowing them to be more effective and successful.
Four factors fuel self-efficacy
1. Performance accomplishment – process of experiencing success is a part of experiencing mastery. This is the principle behind graduated autonomy. Success boosts our confidence to do it again and to do more. The ASC is about experiencing success, such as presenting our first paper or having our mentee present for the first time. Dr. Julie Ann Sosa, the Editor-in Chief of the World Journal of Surgery, created a new section which highlights an author’s first manuscript. This a unique feature which fosters self-efficacy. Each achievement begets more achievement.
2. Modelling – We learn from others and from observation. When we see someone succeeding our own self efficacy increases. Role modelling and peers are essential to the health of academic surgery. By vicariously observing others actions and their consequences, individuals can gain insight into their own activities and capabilities. An individual’s actions and reactions are influenced by what is observed in others. Our experiences matter!
3. Verbal encouragement –The power of positive feedback and affirmation allows individuals to feel supported, connected, and encouraged. The synergistic affirmation from peers and mentors at National meetings allows us to feel seen and heard. People become more active, attentive and motivated when they receive positive encouragement.
4. Mental states matter-Self-efficacy is raised in a positive emotional state. Managing our own frustrations and anxiety allows us to succeed and “get out of our own way”. Our emotional reactions and how those reactions are perceived by those around us affects our self-efficacy.
Emotional Intelligence (Goleman 1995)
- How well do you know your emotions?
- How well do you manage your emotions?
- How do you adapt, or change based on your emotions?
- How well do you recognize the emotions in others?
- How well do you handle relationships?
Self-efficacy is the power to believe in your own ability so that you can set higher goals. It is task oriented and tied to performance. By fueling our self-efficacy, we can improve the beliefs a person holds regarding their power to affect situations.
Let us all leverage our academic surgical community to fuel our own self-efficacy.