It reminded me of the first day of school, we were all gathered in a semi-structured formation outside of the main hall. The hum of hundreds of different conversations from cliques formed intermittently before the closed doors required all of my co-residents to raise their decibels slightly higher to participate in our conversation. As the doors parted we all filed in; our badges scanned prior to entering. Inside the hall were hundreds of seats with the center front section being filled quickly by those lucky enough to enter first. We sat in the second section back where there were six available seats—one for each resident in our group. As the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Opening Ceremony preceded, I was not only amazed about the presence of my colleagues from the University of Washington on stage, but also that the opening speech by Paul Farmer, MD, touched on an issue very important to me—global surgery.
As a recipient of the Resident Associate Society (RAS-ACS) International Exchange Scholarship, I was very disappointed I was not able to attend my international experience to Lebanon due to governmental travel restrictions. However, given the opportunity to attend Clinical Congress 2015, was second to none as there was ample discussion on the role of surgery in the global realm, numerous opportunities for learning, and chances to network with the greatest minds in surgery today.
Prior to the official opening of the ACS annual meeting, I attended the RAS-ACS meeting where we discussed the growing impact residents are having on the College. Hearing about the work of the various divisions within the RAS-ACS reiterated the extent to which we, as residents, are integrating with the ACS. As future leaders of this prominent organization, it was inspiring to see that our concerns and interests were being taken seriously. Further sessions within the RAS-ACS focused on resident transition to practice where topics not normally discussed in residency were brought forth, including job search, benefits, salary, and interviewing. The RAS-ACS had set out not only to stay involved with ACS, but prepare its members for the next steps in their careers, which was an excellent experience for all involved.
Outside of the RAS-ACS portion, the ACS was focused on the findings of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, and presented the findings of their research along with new policies to be enacted. As surgeons were previously not engaged in the discourse of public health, it was very exciting to see that we are gaining a stronger voice. With the guidance of Carlos Pellegrini, MD, FACS, FRCSI(Hon) and Ronald V. Maier, MD, FACS, the University of Washington also had a significant presence in regards to leadership of global surgery. Being able to network with the University of Washington alumni and leadership at the ACS was a huge complement to my time there.
In all, attending Clinical Congress was one of the best experiences I have had in residency thus far, and I plan to further stay involved with the RAS in helping to bring our voice to the global surgery discourse.