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General Surgery Residency Graduation, Awards, and Graham Lecture 2023

This June, the Department of Surgery celebrated the graduation of nine general surgery chief residents with a series of events and awards leading up to their graduation on the evening of the 23rd.

Congratulations to graduates Erin G. Andrade, MD, MPH, Ina Chen, MD, Heidy Cos Filipe, MD, Cathleen Courtney Mooney, MD, Sandra García Aroz, MD, Meghan O’Reilly Kelly, MD, Jessica Danielle Lindemann, MD, PhD, Robert MacGregor, MD, and Emily Jean Onufer, MD, MPH.

Residency Awards

Following chief talks on Wednesday, June 14, Walter F. Ballinger II Administrative Chief Residents Lindemann and Andrade presented a series of awards to faculty and trainees to commemorate their commitment to excellent resident education.

Karen Schubert, BS, was awarded the Friend of Surgery Resident Award presented by Lindemann for her “enthusiastic dedication to the education of our residents.” This award, as determined by the residents, is bestowed in recognition of Schubert’s efforts to go above and beyond to contribute to and advocate for the education and training of the general surgery residents.

The Advanced Care Practitioner Award, which recognizes a faculty member selected by the general surgery residents for their great commitment to the education and training of the surgery residents, was awarded to Amy Lee, MSN, ANP-BC, FNP-BC. Lee, an inpatient nurse practitioner in the Section of Colorectal Surgery, was chosen for her dedication to postoperative patient care and high quality training of residents.

Whitney Brandt, MD, a soon-to-be cardiothoracic fellowship graduate and Washington University faculty member, was presented with the Gregorio A. Sicard Teaching Award. This award is given to the fellow deemed by the general surgery residents to uphold the most exemplary performance in the education and training of residents. Andrade said of Brandt, “she has shown an incredible dedication to resident teaching. We are so lucky to have her on the faculty next year.”

Evarts Graham Visiting Professor Lecture

On June 21, graduation events continued with the presentation of the annual Evarts Graham Visiting Professor Lecture. Christine Lau, MD, MBA, visiting from University of Maryland School of Medicine where she serves as Dr. Robert W. Burton Chair of the Department of Surgery, delivered an inspiring lecture entitled “Leading with Happiness and Joy.”

Lau, in the wake of the COVID pandemic, sought to bring forth a discussion surrounding methods to promote mental health and combat burnout and offered residents and faculty alike insights on how to find joy every day in their practices.

“We don’t get burnt out because of what we do, we get burnt out because we forget why we do it,” she said. “Leading from the top and being happy and joyful really does make a difference.”

Lau discussed the efforts, tactics and characteristics necessary to discover and uphold happiness in daily life and clinical practice. She emphasized how residents and faculty alike can find happiness in their careers by celebrating the joys teaching, discovery, and surgery and by focusing on their careers as a fulfilling calling. Among her many strategies presented to discover this fulfillment, kindness, social connections, and gratitude stood out as key tools to uphold joy in one’s life and career.

“I do think medicine is changing. It’s becoming kinder. I think in order to have a healthy culture, you have to have it be kinder and safer and more accepting of others, and I think we’re seeing that,” she said.

Lau’s final points outlined her advice for building a ‘joy toolbox’: “Be grateful every day for what we have and how blessed we are to have these careers where we get to take care of people. No one has as cool a job as we do. Be a leader on every level. Be a mentor. Develop your body of work. Accept mentoring, accept coaching. Cultivate compassion and kindness. Stay involved in your community and social connections. Look for humor in life – and use it wisely.”

In her clinical practice, Lau specializes in the surgical treatment of lung cancer, mediastinal diseases, benign lung and esophageal disease, esophageal cancer and lung transplantation. She completed her thoracic surgery and lung transplant fellowship in the Washington University Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and graduated in the same class as current Director of the Washington University Lung Transplant Program Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD.

“This is terrific. You are such a wonderful example to all of us in how to succeed in academic and cardiothoracic surgery,” said Joseph Bancroft Professor of Surgery and former colleague of Lau G. Alexander Patterson, MD, who was quoted in her lecture at multiple points. “We should adopt everything you said into our culture here at WashU.”

Chief Residents in General Surgery Graduation Celebration

To bring celebrations to a close, residents, faculty, staff and family gathered for an intimate graduation ceremony at the Chase Park Plaza on Friday, June 23. The evening began with a cocktail hour, during which residents and faculty presented five more honors and awards.

After a heartfelt opening from Residency Program Director Paul Wise, MD, Administrative Chief Resident Jessica Lindemann, MD, PhD, was presented with the Keith D. Amos Memorial Award by Ryan Fields, MD, Kim and Tim Eberlein Distinguished Professor. This award honors the memory and legacy of Dr. Amos and is awarded to a recipient who embodies his leadership and tireless dedication to education and patient care.

Rising William K. Bixby II Administrative Chief Residents Katherine Caldwell, MD, MSCI, and Bradley Kushner, MD, presented the Eugene M. Bricker Teaching Award to graduating resident Robert MacGregor, MD, for his commitment to resident education and emulation of Dr. Bricker’s passion and dedication.

The Evarts A. Graham Teaching Award, presented by Administrative Chief Residents Andrade and Lindemann, was bestowed upon Assistant Professor of Surgery Lindsay Kranker, MD. This teaching award celebrates the faculty member deemed by the general surgery residents to have the greatest commitment to education and training of the surgical residents.

Professor of Surgery L. Michael Brunt, MD, was presented with the Jeffrey F. Moley Mentorship Award by chief residents Mooney and Onufer. Brunt was described as “the quintessential gentleman surgeon” and celebrated as an essential part of the residency program. This award celebrates a faculty member whose mentorship, leadership, character, and surgical judgement has been held in an exemplary model.

“I feel so privileged to have known Jeffrey Moley and his spirit,” Brunt said. “This is one of the highlights of my career. The reason I keep doing what I do is because of all of you, getting to work with some of the brightest and most talented people in the world.”

The Kim and Tim Eberlein Humanism Award was then presented to Paul Wise, MD, by Andrade and Lindemann. “The recipient of this inaugural award is recognized for his tireless support of education,” they said. “He is someone we have known for almost ten years. He is an incredible mentor, but has become a friend and colleague.” This award is bestowed upon the individual chosen by the chief residents who demonstrates a commitment to humanism in surgery through their efforts to improve the lives of their residents, faculty members, and the community they serve.

Following cocktail hour and awards, the ceremony then moved to the ballroom for dinner and presentation of the graduates. Each graduate was celebrated with a speech from faculty and mentors then called to the stage themselves to deliver a personal address. Supporters voiced words of pride, congratulations, and well-wishes for the residents’ future careers as they take the next step in their journeys. Chief residents expressed many words of gratitude for the support of their families, both those at home and those they’d found among each other over the course of their residency program at Washington University.

The graduates then all gathered onstage and received gifts from the department and their certificates. They shared an embrace and commemorated of the past several years of hard work and dedication to their field, practices, and each other.

Closing remarks were given by William K. Bixby Professor and Department of Surgery Chairman John A. Olson, MD, PhD. His parting words for the residents resonated for all in attendance: “Trust the process, embrace the opportunities, and savor every experience. Your time will come.”