Saturday, June 22, 2019

Recap of SBAS 2019: NYC

During the last weekend in April, I had the pleasure of traveling to New York City and attending the 29th annual meeting of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons (SBAS) hosted by the Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Surgery and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. It was an amazing experience!!!! This meeting not only gave me the opportunity to network with phenomenal black leaders in surgery, but it refreshed my spirit and truly confirmed my love for surgery.
Road trip with my mentor!

I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to the conference with my wonderful mentor, Dr. Scantlebury. She had been urging me to attend the conference since last year when it was held in Birmingham, Alabama, and I was thankful that the conference was again being held at a location that wasn’t too far from me.

SBAS Women in Surgery

This was my first time attending an SBAS meeting, and I couldn’t wait to soak up all it had to offer. We arrived in New York just in time to attend the first session which was a two-hour financial wellness summit that included a ton of relevant and useful information. Following this, was a women in surgery reception and opening welcome reception where I got the chance to interact with so many awesome individuals. Before this point, I had never shared a room with so many people who not only looked like me, but who all shared the same love and passion as I do for surgery. It was truly both beautiful and inspiring.


In true surgical fashion, the next day started bright and early. Breakfast was served at 530am and we were all on the bus at 630am to head over to Weill Cornell where a full academic agenda was planned. The morning spent there was full of great talks and research presentations. I enjoyed every presentation ranging from laparoscopic donor hepatectomies to the use of GoPro in the operating room as a way to evaluate and improve performance with video-based feedback. I also got to be a part of a group picture with everyone in attendance (above). Seeing this inspires me every time I see it! We then headed back to the hotel for an afternoon lunch lecture and more great scientific sessions.

An Evening of fun at the Pratt House!
Later that evening, we all headed to The Harold Pratt House for an evening of great food, music, and dancing. The featured musical guests were the George Gee Swing Orchestra and Lindy Hoppers and they made for a great atmosphere. It was also awesome being able to socialize and make new friends. I even ran into one of my surgery attendings who didn’t recognize me at first outside of my normal everyday scrubs look, and even better was the amazing food! I ate a little bit of everything that night ranging from custom-made tacos to trying knish for the first time.

The next and final day was my favorite of the meeting. During a mentorship lunch, I had the opportunity to sit with leaders in surgery and have an open discussion on various topics. I felt completely comfortable asking questions and it was great feeling supported. Following the lunch, a Resident and Medical Student breakout session was held that discussed everything from ascending in leadership to negotiating contracts. One thing that stuck out to me the most from both this session and a previous session was the fact that there has yet to be an African-American female to serve as a department chair in surgery. Now I’m not saying this is what I’m striving for, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to try ;) It was also really fun engaging with the medical students and answering their questions while giving tips for success in their upcoming surgery rotations. It wasn’t too long ago that I was in their position, so it was cool being able to help ease some of their anxiety.

So many great moments!

The final event of the 2019 SBAS meeting was a black tie dinner that still has me smiling. The speakers were Dr. Mae Jemison and Dr. Louis Sullivan. For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Jemison is a physician, engineer, NASA astronaut, and the FIRST woman of color to travel in space. Dr. Louis Sullivan is the Founding Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine AND former Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services under the George H.W. Bush administration. There literally are no words to describe how phenomenal both of these individuals are or the impact that they have made on history. Their speeches were extremely engaging, inspiring, and probably some of the best that I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing (and I mean that, without exaggeration). Hearing them speak was a prominent ending to a great conference.

Following the dinner, was an evening of dancing that allowed for even more fellowship and gave everyone the opportunity to cut loose one last time. You haven’t lived until you’ve swag surfed with a room full of department chairs, program directors, attendings, residents, and medical students who all share a love for surgery, and I’m happy that someone was able to catch this moment of fun (as shown below).

This was my first time attending a SBAS meeting, and it definitely won’t be my last. I was engaged intellectually, formed lasting bonds, and it was the first time since starting intern year where I felt supported, inspired, and hopeful of my professional aspirations. It was much needed, and I will forever be thankful for the experience and all it blessed me with. If you’re a medical student interested in surgery or surgery resident, then I highly recommend attending one of the annual meetings, so you can experience the same joy I did. Below, you’ll find a video highlighting past SBAS meetings with the NYC highlights occuring at the 1:45 mark. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend next year’s meeting at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and if so, I hope to meet some of you there!

The Magic of SBAS- Black Surgeons Defining Excellence from Dr. Hassan A. Tetteh on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Recap of SNMA AMEC 2019: Philadelphia

My first AMEC as a physician!
**It’s been a while since I last wrote, and a lot has been going on over the past few months, so the next few posts will be recaps from my experiences since March 2019**

Back in April, I had the pleasure of attending the 2019 Student National Medical Association's (SNMA) Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC) which took place in Philadelphia, PA. It was not only my first time attending as a physician, but it was my final time (at least for a while) attending as a board member. Yep, that's right! My term of Immediate Past President is officially over and I am free of all SNMA duties! I have served on the national SNMA Board of Directors for four years starting in 2015 as National Osteopathic Co-Chair, and then as 2017-2018 National President which most people might not be aware is a three year term which began with my president-elect year in 2016 and ended with an immediate past president year that I completed with this year's AMEC. So yes, as much as I love the SNMA, I am relieved to break away from the politics of it all.

Teaching high school students CPR
This year's AMEC started off with a community service event. Through a partnership with the SNMA and the Student Health Impact Project (SHIP), a Healthy Attitude Summit was held at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) for over 200 high school students from Baltimore, Camden, and Philadelphia areas. There were many different stations covering everything from Mental Health to Nutrition, and I had the pleasure of teaching at the CPR station. It was so cool teaching and interacting with the students, and I even learned something new. Did you know that "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars has replaced the "Stayin Alive" by the Bee Gees as the new CPR song? Same beat needed for compressions, and the students enjoyed having a song that was closer to their age-range. The event also featured Rodney McLeod, NFL Safety for the Philadelphia Eagles, who has done a lot of great work with SHIP and educating students on living healthy lives. 

Rodney McLeod, NFL Safety for the Philadelphia Eagles
The next day is when the conference began for most attendees, and when the work began for me. I actually thought that I would be able to relax and enjoy this year's conference since I'm no longer a student, but I was wrong! Starting at 8am that morning I had to attend a Board of Directors meeting and because this year's term included sitting on the Elections Committee, I had the task of debriefing the candidates. Following the meeting, we all attended the opening meeting where Rodney McLeod was the keynote speaker, and then we rushed upstairs for the ribbon cutting ceremony and official opening of the professional exhibit hall. This is where residency programs come to promote their programs, so I also walked around to speak with a few programs with openings that I had submitted applications to, and to reunite with past friends who are now resident physicians but were at the exhibit to recruit for their programs. It was great being able to network and catch up with friends at the same time!

They paved the way. So much excellence in one session!
Following the exhibit hall, and after dealing with elections and other SNMA business, I had the pleasure of attending a plenary session which consisted of a panel of physician leaders who also had the accomplishments of being firsts and paving the way for us. They are pictured above, and for those of you who don't recognize each person, I'll name them off from left to right. First you have Dr. Velma Scantlebury, the first black female transplant surgeon in the United States, and my amazing mentor. Next is Dr. Altha Stewart, the first African-American president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). In the middle is Dr. Sharon Allison-Ottey who served as the first female chairman of the SNMA Board of Directors, and next to her is Dr. Patrice Harris, the first African-American President-elect of the American Medical Association (AMA) in all of its 148-year history. Lastly, (but certainly not least) is Dr. Augustus White, III who was so many firsts that I'm not even going to try to list them all, but he was the first African-American medical student and graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine, first black surgical resident at Yale University, first black professor of medicine at Yale, and first black department head at a Harvard-affiliated hospital (Beth Israel Hospital). He is standing next to Gabriel Felix, the now Immediate Past President of the SNMA. So much black excellence I can hardly contain myself!!!!

Finally met Dr. Caudle!
I was only able to attend one other session at the conference that day, but it was a session I just couldn't pass up. If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you'll remember my Minority Women in Medicine posts where I interviewed and highlighted minority women in osteopathic medicine. One of those women I had the pleasure of interviewing was Dr. Jennifer Caudle and she was able to attend this year's AMEC and present a workshop on her journey in medical broadcasting. This was my first time meeting her since I wrote my original post five years ago, and she was even more awesome in person. I truly enjoyed both meeting her and having the opportunity to attend and learn at her workshop.

I love my mentor!
After the workshops ended for the day, I took the opportunity to hang out with Dr. Scantlebury and explore some more of Philly. It was a gorgeous day and the tulips were in full bloom. 

Happy to have left a legacy
The next day was the day we installed our new SNMA National President. Our now Immediate Past President Gabriel Felix gave an excellent farewell speech complete with a goodbye song. It really made me reflect on all the emotions involved with becoming and ending my term as president. Pictured above our some of the past SNMA presidents with the current president Omonivie Agboghidi. I look forward to seeing all her accomplishments over the next year and the legacy she will bring to the organization. As you can see underneath the presidents photo, I am happy to have left my own legacy within the organization, but I surely hope I am not the last of my kind!

Dr. Eugene Harris, III from Married to Medicine
Later that evening, I had the pleasure of attending a mixer hosted by White Coats Black Doctors where I was able to meet and chat with Dr. Eugene Harris III, from the hit Bravo TV show Married to Medicine. He also served as the SNMA closing banquet speaker the following day where he gave a very inspiring and excellent speech. When I asked him if he was ever involved with the SNMA as a medical student, his response was “not only was I involved, but I served as chapter president.” Hearing that made me so happy!

Shout out to the DOs!
Another favorite part of the conference was all the osteopathic representation. I ran into so many of my favorite DOs including Dr. Tyree Winters (literally one of the great faces of the AOA’s “Doctors that DO” campaign), and Dr. Courtney Scrubbs who mentored me during my time as osteopathic co-chair for the organization. It was a great ending to NOM Week 2019.

Here's to another 55 years!
The final part of the conference was the Saturday dinner banquet. This is always my favorite event, because the graduating medical school seniors within the organization are recognized and receive their graduation stoles. There were soooo many graduating seniors, and I was so there to share in that happy experience. It was also where the Chairperson of the Board of Directors gave her final farewell speech, and it was one that focused on shining our light even when confronted with hate. It made me proud of both her and everything the SNMA represents.

I loved my dress!
That pretty much wraps up my SNMA AMEC 2019 experience. For those who weren’t able to make it this year before the event sold out, the next conference will take place the week leading up to Easter Sunday 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio, so mark your calendars now! I highly recommend this conference for both pre-medical and medical students alike, and those of you who have been following me for a while already know that I credit the SNMA with helping me gain an acceptance into medical school. Oh, and shout out to all the people who recognized me from this blog and took the time to stop me and let me know how much it has helped them. I appreciate you all more than you’ll ever know. 

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