Coming Together to Support and Cultivate Diversity

January 2018

The 7th Annual Department of Surgery Diversity Dinner was held on January 6, 2018, at the home of Wendy Greene, MD, associate professor of surgery, and her husband Damon. The yearly gathering celebrates cultural and ethnic multiplicity, provides the opportunity for medical students interested in a surgical career to attend an event hosted by a faculty member, and provides a casual atmosphere for mentoring relationships to begin between medical students, Emory Surgery residents, and attending faculty.

The tradition of the Diversity Dinner was initiated by Blayne Sayed, MD, who hosted the first event in his home. Dr. Sayed did his general surgery residency at Emory, was the administrative chief resident in 2017, and is currently an HPB/transplant fellow at the University of Toronto.

The 2018 dinner was organized by Emory Surgery's Diversity Committee, which is co-chaired by general surgery residents Adekemi Egunsola, MD, and Emeka Ndubisi, MD, and advised by Allan Pickens, MD, who directs both minimally invasive thoracic surgery for Emory Healthcare and thoracic oncology at Emory University Hospital Midtown.

The event's co-sponsors were the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and the Association for Women in Surgery (AWS). The SNMA is a student organization committed to supporting underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians, while the AWS supports women surgeons in all stages of their careers, from medical school through retirement, and engages women surgeons to realize their professional and personal goals.

"One of the reasons I came to Emory was because of its commitment to diversity," says Dr. Greene, who was recruited to Emory in 2015 from Howard University Hospital—where she had been serving as the associate director of the division of trauma and surgical critical care—to direct acute and critical care surgery at Emory University Hospital. "Mentors who inspire are essential for maximizing the promise of diversity, and Emory Surgery's faculty and residents are strongly committed to providing positive mentorship."

The dinner was attended by more than 70 medical students, residents, faculty, friends, and family. Attendees included John Sweeney, MD, chair of Emory Surgery, who delivered remarks on the benefits of diversity and how to navigate for success in diverse clinical environments; Barbara Pettitt, MD, director of medical student education; Edward Lin, DO, chief of the Division of GI and General Surgery; and Thomas Dodson, MD, chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy from 2010-2015 and program director of the general surgery residency from 1977-2011.

At the close of the event, Monica Rizzo, MD, associate professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology, graciously volunteered to host the 2019 Diversity Dinner.

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