By: Adrien Broussard MD 5
I was recently lucky enough to join a group of Xavier students who were offered unique insight into their future careers this week by attending the International Aortic Summit. This three day event was held at the Hilton Aruba Hotel and featured preeminant leaders in the fields of vascular and endovascular surgery. Each day numerous sessions were provided in the main hall; featuring detailed case presentations, science lectures, and discussions.
Being surrounded by such prestigious and experienced physicians was at first intimidating; we needn’t have worried though, as every attendee and faculty member turned out to be warm, supportive, and wonderfully congenial during the breaks and social events. We had the opportunity to get to know several surgeons as they regaled us with stories of their own demanding medical education, and absorb their wisdom in growing our own knowledge base and careers. At least one student walked away inspired to pursue her newfound interest in vascular surgery- and with contact information for a residency director from Toronto!
Though we could not fully appreciate their value from our current level of training, the various science and technique presentations were fascinating. The small victories of being able to correctly orient and interpret CT scans or contrast radiological images led each of us to a desire to go home each evening and read just a little more about the topics presented. This sort of intense curiosity is the foundation of lifelong learning, and to have it sparked was immensely valuable.
Perhaps most accessible to the students were the periodic open discussions. It was during these periods it became clear that every surgeon in the room truly was a global leader in their field. The conference hashed out plans for the future of the specialty, began laying rules for the use of novelty procedures, and even discussed the political action they would need to see lobied to change regulations for the safety of their patients. This sort of leadership in action proved to be a real “peak behind the curtain” of leadership in medicine, and drove home the importance of staying not only technically proficient, but actively engaged in the medical and professional communities.
Overall, the International Aortic Summit was a powerful experience. Surely the students who attended benefited most directly, but the anecdotes and factoids they brought back to the classroom to share with their peers benefited all. I look forward to attending many more conferences throughout my career, and hope to see Xavier students continue to engage the professional community at all levels.