Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Perelman Students at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress in Chicago!

One of my favorite activities in medical school is attending academic meetings.  Conferences are a perfect opportunity to present your research and network with people from all over the world.  Perelman students are fortunate to receive departmental funding support for registration, travel, lodging, and food when our papers and abstracts are accepted for presentation at a conference.

Last week, I attended the 98th annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in Chicago. I presented my abstract entitled Construct Validity of Instrument Vibrations as a Measure of Robotic Surgical Skill in the Surgical Forum session on surgical education.  The abstract is a result of the work I've done in the The Haptics Group under the mentorship of Dr. Katherine J. Kuchenbecker.  My research would not be possible without the collaboration between Dr. Kuchenbecker's lab and many surgeons in the University of Pennsylvania Health System.  Since the Penn Engineering and Perelman campuses are less than three blocks apart, we are able to develop strong research partnerships more easily than most other medical schools.  This research was also made possible by the funding and support of Perelman's unique MD/MTR program, which I am currently completing.

A couple other students gave phenomenal presentations in the Surgical Forum. Rachel Yang, who is also President of the Agnew Surgical Society, presented her abstract entitled Characteristics of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ Found in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers.  Third-year student Rashikh Choudhury presented Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery Compared to Diet and Exercise Therapy for Morbidly Obese Patients Awaiting Renal Transplant: A Decision Analysis, an innovative work on the use of a hidden Markov model to predict patient outcomes.

At the Penn Surgery reception.  From left: Dr. Rachel Kelz, me, Daniel Hashimoto MS4,
Morgan Sellers MS4, Dr. Jon Morris, Dr. Noel Williams, Dr. Kristoffel Dumon, and Rachel Yang MS4
Every year at the ACS Clinical Congress, Penn's Department of Surgery hosts a reception for current and former Penn faculty, residents, and students.  This year was my third time attending the event, and it is always a fun opportunity to interact with faculty outside of the hospital.

Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, inventor of the Top Gun
competition, with this year's three finalists. 
I also had the opportunity to partake in the annual Top Gun Skills Competition, and I placed 2nd among 70 attendings, fellows, residents, and medical students.  This is the second consecutive year that a Perelman student has placed in the top 3, after my good friend Daniel Hashimoto became the first medical student to win the Top Gun competition last year.  This was also the first time in the history of Top Gun that competitors were required to perform both laparoscopic and robotic surgical tasks, which put me at a unique advantage since I have been mentored by Daniel and many of Penn's laparoscopic and robotic surgeons including Dr. Noel Williams, Dr. Kristoffel Dumon, Dr. Kenric Murayama, Dr. David I. Lee, Dr. Rajesh Aggarwal, Dr. Bert O'Malley, Jr., and Dr. Gregory Weinstein.  I was hoping to take home first place so that we can start a Perelman student dynasty in Top Gun, but I'll have to wait until April for one last chance to make it happen.

Science and competitions aside, I had a lot of fun and got to explore Chicago.  The city has beautiful architecture and an amazing jazz club scene.  I also made sure to get some authentic deep dish pizza.  I had an great time and would definitely visit again.

I'm a fan of Chicago's skyline
A big, shiny bean.
Students at dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Murayama and Dr. Dumon
Should aspiring surgeons be practicing Jenga?