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Andi Cummins

Learning From the Giants

Feb 7, 2024, 09:20 AM by John Carstens

It was a huge privilege to be able to attend PSTM23, meet experts in the field, learn of the latest advances in our specialty and gain exposure to a variety of pathways in the field. It was also enlightening to audit meetings of committees that make impactful decisions about the content, work and planning that goes into making an event of this magnitude happen. I was also impressed that so many international attendees, including other resident scholars, were present – a testament to the global practice of medicine and the exciting idea that we can all learn from each other's culture and practices.

There were so many amazing lectures and panels, and I was able to hear from giants in the field and learn from their expertise. One of my favorite moments was getting to see my research mentor from medical school, James Zins, MD, at one of the talks, and catching up about what both of us were doing in our careers. I think the biggest challenge of a meeting this size is knowing when and how to spend your time, as the meeting is designed to showcase all aspects of plastic surgery and offer events that appeal to everyone's areas of interest. Luckily, PSTM on-demand content is available online, so if something was missed there may be a chance to view it at a later date.

One of my "wow" moments came during the WPS Annual Women's Luncheon. Residents and medical students from our home institution, the University of Texas Medical Branch, were all sitting together at a table, and the panel held a section for past female ASPS presidents and other plastic surgery organizations in attendance at the meeting. It was impressive enough to realize that at least 15 past presidents and leaders were present in the same room, but the first name called was the chair of our Division of Plastic Surgery at UTMB, The PSF past President Linda Phillips, MD. To hear the impact she had not only on women in plastic surgery but really on the specialty as a whole made me feel so honored to be learning from her as a mentor during my residency. The luncheon also featured a talk with three different female plastic surgery leaders from different countries to better understand the shared experience of being a woman in leadership – and discussing the nuances that may be divergent in different healthcare systems was very enlightening with regard to my future career. As a woman in plastic surgery, I hope to stay involved and provide support, mentorship and sponsorship for the next generation of women plastic surgeons – just as Dr. Phillips has for me and the other trainees at our institution.