Sharon Ben-Or, MD
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be the first female President of the Eastern Cardiothoracic Surgical Society. As I write this President’s message, I look at the past, present, and future of the Society and the important principles for its growth and success: mentorship, sponsorship, and diversity, equity, & inclusion.
I first became involved in the ECTSS as a general surgery resident in 2004 when it was still known as PATS (Pennsylvania Association of Thoracic Surgeons). I was presenting our experience with percutaneous tracheostomies. This was the first meeting where I had ever presented, and I was both terrified and excited. It was through the mentorship of the President and my chairman at the time, Scott Goldman, that I became involved in cardiothoracic surgery.
When I finished my cardiothoracic training, I became more involved in the Society and witnessed it become the ECTSS. I was sponsored by many past Presidents to become the first woman on the executive council. As I moved up in the ranks, I learned how to sponsor other members in the Society.
This year, we have the most diverse Executive Council. I have mixed feelings about being the first female president and the second female president of a cardiothoracic surgical society. I am honored to be forging this path, but on the other hand, this path should have been forged a long time ago. There is only one day in which we can exact change: today. And today, my goal is to increase the diversity of our Society.
Diversity entails race, gender, sexual orientation, background (rural and/or impoverished communities), etc. People from different walks of life and differing viewpoints strengthen our Society. As the current President, I implore you to, not just mentor people, but to sponsor them. Provide them with the opportunity to speak and moderate. Encourage them to apply for the scholarship program and the fellows’ course. Donate to the scholarship program so that more trainees can attend the meeting. The involvement of these diverse trainees and surgeons will strengthen the ECTSS and facilitate the evolution of the field of cardiothoracic surgery.