SUS Presidential Session
Where Do We Go from Here, Chaos or Community?
The 2022 SUS Presidential Session featured a Fireside Chat titled: Where Do We Go from Here, Chaos or Community? This illuminating Presidential Session featured under-represented minority individuals who are world-renowned leaders in academic surgery sharing their personal and poignant experiences of social inequity, while offering creative coping mechanisms to counter these negative experiences.
Dr. Edward M. Barksdale, Jr., Surgeon-in-Chief of Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital and Robert J. Izant Jr., MD Professor of Surgery at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, described his painful personal experiences about “what’s like to be a Black man in American Surgery” and advised young surgeons to embrace their identity by “know[ing] who you are and most importantly why you are”.
Dr. Jennifer F. Tseng, Surgeon-in-Chief of Boston Medical Center and James Utley Professor/Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Boston University School of Medicine, shared her personal experiences of microaggressions against Asian women in academic surgery and pleaded with the audience that in order to battle systemic racism “we have to start somewhere and we all have a part to play”.
Dr. Carmen C. Solόrzano, Professor and Chair of the Vanderbilt University Department of Surgery, gave her personal perspectives of growing up as a Latina gay woman in medical school and in surgical residency at the University of Florida where she constantly felt being “underestimated” because of her accent, her name, and as a woman in surgery. She was appreciative of the opportunity to speak about this “uncomfortable but necessary” topic and promised to utilize her position of leadership to make positive changes against social inequity.
Dr. Carlos A. Pellegrini, Past President of the American College of Surgeons, American Surgical Association, and Society of Surgical Chairs, told the audience of his background as a foreign medical graduate growing up in a poor community in Argentina and of the struggles he faced as a Latino surgeon in America. Nevertheless, Dr. Pellegrini decided early in his career that “being a victim” of structural racism is not the solution. He promised himself that he would use these emotional and hurtful experiences as a tool to make systemic changes to make a better world for future generation of surgeons.