At the Society of Black Academic Surgeons’ 27th Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 27-29, outgoing President and University of Chicago Medicine general surgeon Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS, clinical associate professor of surgery, gave her presidential address in her final act as the organization’s first female leader.
The meeting, which drew more than 200 surgeons from across the country, was hosted by the University of Chicago Medicine and the Department of Surgery; it took place both downtown at the InterContinental Hotel and on campus at the University of Chicago in Hyde Park.
Dr. Turner’s talk, titled “The Enduring Influence of Surgical Societies,” began with a historical perspective on surgery, and then focused on the vital role surgical societies play in connecting physicians from disparate backgrounds, specialties and geographic locations. With stagnant numbers nationally, black academic surgeons often have few role models – at their own institutions and in general – for pursuing academic surgery, she said. SBAS meetings provide a valuable forum for connection, mentoring and inspiration.
“SBAS has become a formidable scientific forum for surgeons of all backgrounds interested in quality and excellence,” she said. “[Our membership is] small in number but the power invested in our members and leaders is substantial; we are influential.”
As the organization continues to grow and serve an important purpose for all who are engaged in academic medicine, its leaders and members must also look toward the future. Dr. Turner encouraged the organization to reach out to the next generation of academic surgical leaders through methods such as engaging more students, increasing social media presence, providing more opportunities for leadership and partnering with other societies.
“We were built on diversity, but we have room to do more,” she said. “We want to remain true to our mission, and adopt additional elements that were not in cards 30 years ago.”
Dr. Turner’s address was the penultimate portion of the weekend, which culminated in a black-tie dinner that featured keynote speaker Julieanna Richardson of The HistoryMakers. Among the days of scientific sessions, the weekend also included a Thursday evening Women in Surgery reception and a Friday evening reception at The Murphy Auditorium.
The Department of Surgery co-hosted the Friday evening reception, which opened with remarks from Cook County Health and Hospital Systems’ Chief Medical Officer Claudia Fegan, MD. The reception also featured musical guest and Chicago blues legend Ronnie Baker Brooks, as well as a brief guitar interlude from UCM Surgeon-in-Chief and Chairman of the Department of Surgery Jeffrey Matthews, MD.
The Friday morning local program took place at the University of Chicago campus. University Provost Daniel Diermeier, PhD, and UCM President Sharon O’Keefe welcomed conference attendees to Hyde Park. Dr. Matthews, the SBAS Institutional host, talked about the department’s illustrious history of intellectual rigor and clinical advancement.
Brenda Battle, UCM’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and administrator for the Urban Health Initiative, talked about the myriad challenges that disproportionately impact Chicago’s South Side residents and how the UHI is working to improve community health and access to care. Selwyn Rogers Jr., MD, MPH, UCM Trauma Center Director, expounded on pressing issues for Chicago, including the South Side, and talked about the intersection of violence and health. Providing trauma care is more than simply having a trauma hospital, he explained. Trauma care necessitates tackling the root causes of trauma.
Faculty surgeons and scientists then shared important initiatives and research taking place at the university to advance both science and patient care. Other Local Program presenters included John Alverdy, MD; Anita Chong, PhD; Tong-Chuan He, MD, PhD; Jessica Kandel, MD; Raphael Lee, MD; Jayant Pinto, MD; Russell Reid, MD, PhD (Local Program Chair); Dana Suskind, MD; and Bakhtiar Yamini, MD.
SBAS’ Scientific Sessions, held at the hotel over a two-day period, covered a wide variety of pressing surgical topics and featuring various UCM speakers and moderators. Vascular surgeon Chelsea Dorsey, MD, moderated a session on basic science, general/pediatric surgery, and cardiothoracic/vascular that covered topics such as readmission rates for heart transplantation patients in the Medicare population, same-day discharge potential for non-perforated appendicitis management, and racial disparities in surgical outcomes of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
General surgeon Vivek Prachand, MD, moderated an oral poster session on education outcomes and surgical healthcare disparity. Physicians presented on topics such as socioeconomic barriers to pediatric obesity treatment, new approaches to colonoscopy screenings among African-Americans in Baltimore, and more. Other UCM faculty moderators and presenters included Adam Bodzin, MD; Grace Mak, MD; and Dr. Rogers.