ASCRS Young Surgeon Spotlight: Heather L. Yeo

Heather L. Yeo
Associate Professor Of Surgery
Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research
Weill Cornell Medicine
New York, New York

Why I am a member of ASCRS:

I am a member of the ASCRS because I believe this society will shape the future of colon and rectal surgery nationally.  ASCRS values the input of young members and is where the future leaders of our profession will develop. Also, it provides an important venue for research collaboration, networking, and learning from others.

What advice do you have for future colorectal surgeons?

My advice for future colon and rectal surgeons is to learn from your patients and experiences, to try to ask questions that make a difference and move the field forward. And of course, to be involved in ASCRS!

Tell us something about yourself that we might not otherwise know.

I believe building diverse physician leaders is important. It's part of the reason did an MBA.  

Fun fact: I used to work in the U.S. Senate, first as a page and then as a senate staffer.

ASCRS Young Surgeon Spotlight: Joshua A. Tyler

Joshua A. Tyler
Chief, Colorectal and Robotic Surgery, Keesler Medical Center
Assistant Professor, Dept of Surgery, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Director of Robotic Surgery, Merit Health Biloxi
Founder/Director, Institute for Defense Robotic Surgical Education (InDoRSE)

Where do you practice?

I am active duty Air Force, but also have a Training Affiliation Agreement (TAA) which allows me to practice in the private sector (in a volunteer capacity).  My military practice is at Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center (Biloxi, MS), and my civilian practice is at Merit Health Biloxi.

Why I am a member of ASCRS:

ASCRS provides a wonderful community of colon and rectal surgeons for networking, mentorship, and continual learning/self-improvement.  We tend to be a small close-knit community in this specialty, and ASCRS provides the perfect forum for academic, military, and community colorectal surgeons.

Tell us something about yourself that we might not otherwise know:

I am very excited about two aspects of my practice: our community involvement to serve the colorectal surgery needs of patients in South Mississippi, as well as the robotic surgery training site I founded, which is also located at Keesler. 

Military colorectal surgeons tend to be fairly low-volume compared to our civilian peers. Training Affiliation Agreements (TAAs) help us have more volume, as well as serve in the off-base medical community.  All of our downtown work is in a volunteer capacity.  Mississippi is very underserved for colorectal surgery, with only four board-certified CR surgeons serving the entire state.  My partner (Dr. Ramon Brown, another active duty AF surgeon) and I are the only two in the southern half of the state.  The TAA arrangement accounts for approximately 90 percent of our practice/volume and enables us to be high-volume surgeons while serving the needs of our local community given the underserved nature of the population here for our specialty.

An additional aspect of my practice is serving as the founding director for the Institute for Defense Robotic Surgical Education (InDoRSE), located at Keesler Air Force Base (see article link below).  The federal government has invested nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in robotic technology between the DoD and VA, but often these surgeons have difficulty attending courses at Intuitive’s own training sites, which are cost-prohibitive for federal surgeons. InDoRSE was founded as the federal government’s DaVinci Xi training facility for Army, Navy, Air Force, and VA surgeons to directly address this and enhance access to training/education in robotic surgery.  In addition to training surgeons, we train the entire OR team including the circulator nurse and OR technicians. Personnel turnover is a significant obstacle to successful robotic implementation in federal healthcare, and our team-based approach helps ensure safe and efficient care for our patients.  We have two Xi robots and now teach both basic and advanced robotics courses.  We recently trained our 100th surgeon (300 personnel total), and this has spanned 37 different facilities across the DoD and VA.  Those surgeons have gone home to do 1500 robotic procedures, and the educational cost savings to the government exceed one million dollars. This is explained in more detail in this article.

ASCRS Young Surgeon Spotlight: Carrie Y. Peterson, MD, MS

Carrie Y. Peterson, MD, MS
Associate Professor of Surgery
Medical College of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why I am a member of ASCRS:

I believe that the Society is invested in the future and does so by working to grow the practices and careers of their young surgeon members, and I’ve found this to be true during my time as a candidate member and now as a fellow of the Society. I’ve made significant friends and mentors and participated in many educational programs through ASCRS that have helped me in innumerable ways. Furthermore, the Annual Meeting provides a time to reconnect with other colorectal surgeons, discuss new ideas and changes in our field, promote our trainees, and grow professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without ASCRS.

What advice do you have for future colorectal surgeons?

I think our specialty is really amazing with so much variety and opportunities – there is something for everyone. I’ve found practicing as a colorectal surgeon to be immensely fulfilling. Surgical training is tough, and only a year to learn colorectal surgery goes by incredibly fast, but the learning doesn’t stop there; it really is life-long, so finding good mentors and supportive friends is key, where ever you are. Keep focused on your goals and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!

The Colon Club Wins ASCRS 2019 Jagelman Award for Colorectal Cancer Advocacy

ASCRS is proud to give The Colon Club the 2019 David Jagelman, MD, Award for advocacy in colorectal cancer. Trish Lannon, president of The Colon Club, accepted the award at the 2019 ASCRS Annual Scientific Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Jagelman Award is named for Dr. David Jagelman, whose advocacy for his patients at the Cleveland Clinic is legendary. For its outreach on early-onset colorectal cancer, The Colon Club will receive a $1,000 honorarium.

Colorectal cancer is becoming more common in people under 50. The Colon Club offers support and educational resources for young people with colorectal cancer and their caregivers. The Colon Club’s magazine, On the Rise, raises awareness of the many faces of the disease by putting the spotlight on young colorectal cancer survivors and caregivers. Those featured not only bare their scars for the camera—some with colostomy bags—but also share their very personal stories, covering a wide range of issues such as infertility, clinical trials, FAP, Lynch Syndrome and more. The Colon Club also provides grants for the children of colorectal cancer patients through their Kimberly Fund, so those children have a chance to forget about cancer and be a kid again. Patients and caregivers can join Colon Talk, an online forum where they can chat with others to get support, and access blog posts by fellow colorectal cancer patients and medical professionals.

lannon.jpg“We at The Colon Club are truly honored for being selected as the 2019 recipient of the David Jagelman Award,” Said Lannon. “When this organization was started in 2003, there was nothing out there for those diagnosed with colorectal cancer at an early age. We have worked hard over the last 16 years to provide resources, support, and a voice for early-age onset colorectal cancer. Thank you to the nominating committee and the ASCRS Executive Council for recognizing the work we are doing to raise awareness and to change the perception of colorectal cancer.”

“As colorectal surgeons, we are deeply concerned about the increasing rate of colorectal cancer in people under 50,” said Sharon Stein, chair of the ASCRS Public Relations Committee. “The work that The Colon Club does is important not only to support people diagnosed with colorectal cancer but also to help prevent it by raising awareness.”

Electronic Saviors Creator Jim Semonik Wins 2019 Local Hero Award

semonik.jpgThrough Electronic Saviors: Industrial Music to Cure Cancer, Jim Semonik has told his story of surviving colorectal cancer and raised more than $70,000 for cancer charities and research. On June 2, ASCRS presented him with the 2019 Local Hero Award at the 2019 ASCRS Annual Scientific Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The ASCRS Local Hero Award recognizes people affected by colorectal disease whose advocacy or public outreach efforts have had a positive impact on their local communities,” said Dr. Sharon Stein, a colorectal surgeon and chair of the ASCRS Public Relations Committee. “Jim Semonik is a perfect example of this and we are very proud to present him with the award.”

After he was diagnosed with a deadly form of colorectal cancer in 2008, Semonik called on his network as a promoter and record store buyer to create the first compilation album in what is now a five-volume series. The subsequent volumes, titled Recurrence, Remission, Retaliation and Remembrance, reflect his experience living with cancer, being declared cancer-free and losing a friend to colorectal cancer. The proceeds from these albums have funded more than $70,000 in donations to various cancer-related charities and research teams including the Foundation for Cancer Research and Wellness, Gilda's Club Western Pennsylvania, The Bone Marrow Foundation, Cap for Kids and the colorectal surgery research department at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Thank you for recognizing me for my work with Electronic Saviors. Being able to bring the gift of music to so many across the world after being touched by cancer is an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. This project has touched the hearts of so many and has created memories not only for me but for all of the artists involved,” said Semonik.

Electronic Saviors has featured music from hundreds of artists from across the globe and is now accepting submissions for its sixth volume. Semonik now has his own label, Distortion Productions, which represents bands that have appeared on the albums. In addition to the five compilation albums, Electronic Saviors sells t-shirts, posters and a comic book with its own soundtrack through Distortion Productions. An inspiration to the industrial music community, Semonik was knighted on stage at the Coldwaves festival in Chicago in September 2018.

“Escaping the grasp of cancer has provided me with an opportunity not only to savor my remaining years but to have a soundtrack for it. It is truly an honor to receive this award and when I do reach the end, I can look back with a sense of fondness and great accomplishment. No regrets."

Watch Sir Jim Semonik’s Local Hero Video.

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