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Evolution In Surgery
Fariha Sheikh, M.D.
Chair, Communication and Education Subcommittee
AAST DEI Committee
It is interesting how things seem to stay the same and evolve simultaneously. For countless years, historically excluded groups have yearned for equality, sometimes with a quiet voice and now with a louder, stronger voice. Two years ago, a virtual symposium was held by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. The focus of that symposium was on creating impactful changes through prioritizing DEI. Focusing on sponsorship and promotion of under-represented groups within the surgical workforce, directing financial support towards education and outcomes for health equity, and obtaining a true understanding of the internal structure of the organization while supporting transparency and accountability were highlighted as key initiatives in the path towards advancing DEI.
Since the creation of the AAST DEI committee, the message of building a stronger foundation for under-represented groups has traveled beyond the experts and has filtered to the audiences that perhaps matter the most in the effort to achieve long-lasting and impactful change. The trainees, from students to residents to fellows, are being educated on how to recognize bias, and how to navigate above bias and young surgeons are learning the importance of being supported in roles that were not always thought of as being attainable. The AAST DEI committee has also given trainees a voice that was not available in the past. Trainees have been encouraged to actively express through writing, their experiences with bias and racism, whether through direct interactions or witnessed encounters within the patient care setting. Published essays have provided an outlet for the new generation to express their lived experiences despite the advances that have been made slowly over time within medicine and surgery.
Our collective voices need to be aligned as we advance the mission of DEI. We need to be intentional about diversifying leadership through the recruitment and retainment of talented under-represented in medicine (URiM) surgeons. Two years ago, it was evident that the population within the US was evolving and historically excluded groups were growing at a rapid pace. As the DEI effort continues and strengthens, the surgeon-to-patient demographic disparity will converge and patient outcomes will ultimately improve.