Members of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons gather for a dinner.

As a Black surgical trainee, the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons (SAAS) is important to me for numerous reasons. SAAS moves allyship from just a word to an action. Especially in the wake of events from the last two years placing a microscope on the disparities in this country both in the medical field and beyond, allyship is more important than ever.1 As a profession, we cannot claim that we value diversity, equity, and inclusion without taking steps toward making it a reality. One key mechanism to increase equity for minorities in the surgical field and at the leadership level is ensuring that diverse faces have a platform and a voice at the national level.2 This starts by paving the way of future generations to succeed and that is the key to the SAAS mission: “promoting underrepresented populations in any arena of academic surgery.”

Andrea Gillis, MS

Mentorship is a cornerstone of the organization. We know that minority trainees are less likely to have mentorship, which is pivotal for a career in academic surgery.3 Because so many influential leaders in surgery participate in the SAAS and the meetings, membership allows junior faculty, trainees, and students the ability to meet and obtain advice in a one-on-one fashion. The special aspect of mentorship through SAAS is that members have made a pledge that diversity is important to them. A mentee can enter these relationships knowing that there is a shared commitment to the underserved. This takes away some of the anxiety that young minorities may feel seeking out guidance elsewhere. That uneasiness that all minorities carry that someone may say the wrong thing or make the wrong assumption is alleviated. SAAS is where you can feel at home. Although our struggles may be different based on our backgrounds, I and other members can acknowledge and collaborate on potential solutions. SAAS mentors from all backgrounds not only guide and sponsor these young people but learn and grow to become more understanding and tolerant from the relationship as well. By getting to know my Asian peers, mentees, and mentors, I have become aware of my own blind spots and in turn become a better colleague and doctor.

In addition, SAAS sponsors scholarships, research awards, and visiting professorships to recognize the efforts of young surgeons. Research programs and projects that have a particular focus on the Asian and Asian American experience that may not be emphasized at other national organizations have a special place at SAAS. There are problems that uniquely affect Asian physicians and patients that require national attention: health outcome disparities, upward mobility in the workplace, xenophobia, and microaggressions to name a few examples.4, 5 SAAS may be the first place that these issues are welcomed, listened to, and acted upon. This in turn can allow amplification into the broader surgical world.

SAAS also exposes all surgeons to the history of Asian American Surgeons in this country and the impact they have had and continue to have. Other majority-culture-lead surgical societies have not historically emphasized the contributions of minority surgeons in this country. It is through SAAS that we can ensure that the trailblazers in academic surgery that are of Asian descent are recognized such as Quan Duh, Herbert Chen, Tracy Wang, Jennifer Tseng, and many others.

SAAS highlights the diversity within diversity. It is a wonderful organization that allows you to learn and grow in all facets of your career in academic surgery. Membership creates a safe space and many opportunities for young surgeons to be mentored and create a dynamic social network. I have met great surgeon mentors and cultivated fruitful collaborations and friendships thanks to SAAS and cannot recommend the organization enough.

References:

  1. Ramirez-Valles J, Breton E, Chae DH, et al. The COVID-19 Pandemic: Everything Old Is New Again in Public Health Education. Health Educ Behav 2020; 47(4):501-503.
  2. Nakayama DK. Asian Americans in leadership positions in academic surgery. Ann Surg 2012; 255(3):583-8.
  3. Keshinro A, Butler P, Fayanju O, et al. Examination of Intersectionality and the Pipeline for Black Academic Surgeons. JAMA Surg 2022.
  4. Chao GF, Emlaw J, Chiu AS, et al. Asian American Pacific Islander Representation in Outcomes Research: NSQIP Scoping Review. J Am Coll Surg 2021; 232(5):682-689.e5.
  5. McMurtry CL, Findling MG, Casey LS, et al. Discrimination in the United States: Experiences of Asian Americans. Health Serv Res 2019; 54 Suppl 2:1419-1430.

 

Archives

SAAS Leadership Highlights

The Society of Asian Academic Surgeons would like to congratulate our members on their many recent accomplishments.

Presidential Address: ‘A is for… American. Asian. Ally.’

Tracy S. Wang, MD, MPH, delivered her Presidential Address to the Society during the 2021 SAAS 6th Annual Meeting, focusing on her thoughts regarding Asian American identity in relation to her role as SAAS president for the past two years.

President’s Message: December 2021

SAAS President Dr. Allan Tsung discusses this year’s SAAS annual meeting, the pandemic and the future of the society in his December 2021 President’s Message.

The Sequelae of Hate

Dr. Lindsey Zhang discusses the recent rise in hate crimes, racial discrimination and violence toward the Asian American community.

A Day in Ramadan as a Surgical Trainee

Dr. Hassan Mashbar, a trauma fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, discusses his experience with Ramadan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q&A: Dr. George Yang

The Lotus Scroll interviews George Yang, MD, PhD, former president of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons.

SAAS Foundation 2018-2019 Visiting Professorships

Congratulations to the 2018-2019 SAAS Foundation Visiting Professors! SAAS Foundation Visiting Professorships support travel to host institutions for junior faculty to give grand rounds and increase the national visibility of rising stars in academic surgery.

SAAS on Twitter!

This year, SAAS was active more than ever on Twitter! In addition to updates and announcements, more content was created for our followers to improve engagement, highlight issues and events important to our society and members, and promote the activities at SAAS.

SAAS Executive Council: Message on the Rise of Racism

First, as the current pandemic continues to affect our communities and families, we want to express our profound gratitude to our surgical colleagues and to all healthcare professionals who are the frontlines of caring for patients with the SARS-CoV2 virus/COVID-19.

Q&A: Dr. Kenric Murayama

The Lotus Scroll is honored to interview Kenric Murayama, MD, this year’s host of the SAAS Annual Meeting.

Resident’s Corner: Work in the Time of Coronavirus

Sterile technique has leaked into the public domain, marked not only by how expensive Purell has become or how frequently we are reminded to wash our hands, but also by the ways we have come to treat one another.

President’s Message: December 2019

SAAS President Dr. Tracy Wang discusses how far the Society has come and what’s in store for 2020 in her December 2019 President’s Message.

SAAS 2019 Meeting Recap

SAAS held its 2019 Annual Meeting at the Boston Medical Center, Sept. 26-27, with more than 148 scientific presentations and breakout sessions.

SAAS 2019 Meeting Highlights

The fourth annual meeting of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons will be held in Boston, Massachusetts, Sept. 26-27, 2019, and promises to be an incredibly fun, impactful and meaningful gathering of academic surgeons, trainees and students from both the U.S. and abroad.

Q&A: Dr. Jennifer Tseng

Jennifer Tseng, MD, MPH, is the James Utley Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at Boston University School of Medicine and surgeon-in-chief at Boston Medical Center.

Welcome to the Lotus Scroll

Welcome to the launch of Lotus Scroll, the official newsletter of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons (SAAS). Through the Lotus Scroll, we are excited to distribute and enhance the vision of SAAS: to promote diversity and inclusion in academic surgery through the sponsorship and development of its leaders.