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News & Press: eConnections

Dr. Kim Ephgrave Visiting Professorship 2018

Thursday, April 4, 2019  
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It is my distinct pleasure to write this report regarding my recent visit to the Dell-Seton Medical Center and Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin as the AWS Dr. Kim Ephgrave Visiting Professor 2018.

I arrived on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 and stayed at the Hotel Ella. That evening, I had dinner with several of the surgical residents at various levels. They were initially somewhat reserved but when I finally accepted that they were all going to call me "Ma'am," we had a good laugh and everyone relaxed. The discussions during the meal ran across a wide variety of topics, including my background and training, and why I had chosen Endocrine Surgery as a career path. A couple of residents were MD PhDs and were also intrigued about how I had navigated being a surgeon-scientist and why I was no longer in the lab. I also learned that the residency program is fairly new and is still transitioning from being primarily a community-based training program to one that is now more academic and affiliated with the new Dell Medical School. Overall, this was a wonderful event to be able to interact with the residents in the program on a one-to-one basis and feel energized regarding the future of our profession. I did find it interesting, however, that no faculty member attended this event. This may be due to the fact that the chief resident, Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall wrote the application to the AWS and there wasn't an official "faculty sponsor" for the visit.

The following morning, I was escorted to the Health Learning Building of the Dell Medical School for my Grand Rounds presentation. There were numerous faculty, residents, and medical students present and I had the pleasure of presenting my talk on "Building Resilience in a Surgical Career – Change is the Only Constant." I also presented some information regarding AWS and the benefits of membership in the organization. It was especially gratifying to share my personal memories of Dr. Kim Ephgrave. At the conclusion of the talk, there were some very insightful comments from the audience and several people mentioned that they appreciated it when I shared personal life events to highlight strategies to build resilience.

Following this event, I participated in the Department's Mortality and Morbidity conference and also toured the hospital with one of the PGY-1 residents as the tour guide. It was a pleasure to learn about the history of the medical center through the eyes of one of the trainees. In addition, I was able to meet the OR nursing director and get a feel for their organization and discuss ideas for improving OR throughput. The highlight of the tour was the opportunity to spend some time on the helipad of the hospital, which is the Level I trauma Center for the area.

The next meeting was a lunch get-together with several second year medical students who were doing their surgical clerkship. The Surgery Clerkship Director, Dr. Kimberly Brown, who I had met during AWS Annual Conference 2 weeks prior, arranged this event. This was a special meeting as I got to hear about the unique inter-professional education curriculum in which students learn to work collaboratively with ancillary personnel right from the beginning of their training. The students were also interested in hearing how women surgeons balance a career and family responsibilities.

The last meeting of the day was the Women in Leadership Conference series where I had the opportunity to meet many of the female leaders at UT Austin and the Hospital/Medical School. It was great to share our journeys into leadership positions with each other over lunch. It is interesting that despite our differences, certain challenges are universal.

Overall, the AWS Visiting Professorship was an invaluable and unique experience for me. I wish to thank AWS again for this opportunity.


Geeta Lal MD, MSc, FACS
Associate Professor, Surgery
University of Iowa