The 2014 RAS-ACS annual essay contest: When I want to quit and why I don’t

Each year, the Communications Committee of the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS) selects a topic of broad interest to RAS-ACS members and solicits brief essays from those individuals who are interested in the subject. A panel of 10 Communications Committee members evaluates the essays, and the author of the winning essay receives a $500 prize during the Focus on RAS-ACS session at the annual Clinical Congress. In addition, the top five essays are published in the Bulletin.

The theme of the 2014 RAS-ACS essay contest was When I Want to Quit and Why I Don’t. The winning essay was written by Carla Pajak, MD, from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Dr. Pajak and the other authors each describe an overwhelming situation that led them to consider veering away from their career plans. The life of a surgeon is, by definition, extremely demanding, both physically and emotionally. Each professional trait—medical knowledge mastery, surgical judgment, technical skill, and a compassionate personality—should be combined to make the “perfect” surgeon. But how easy is this to accomplish? These essays focus on unique, albeit arduous, situations that young surgeons and surgical residents have experienced, revealing how difficult but, at the same time, how rewarding it is to be a surgeon.

RAS-ACS is currently accepting essays for the 2015 essay contest. Refer to the submission guidelines posted on the ACS Communities for the RAS-ACS, or send an e-mail to Alison Casey at

The patient’s wound I carry with me
Carla Pajak, MD

Why we stay: For the patients yet to come
Ciara R. Huntington, MD

Tiffany Ann Pierce Schatz, MD

A chosen path
Rebecca Hoffman, MD

Laura S. Johnson, MD, FACS, FCCP

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