YFA Communications Committee Essay Contest 2021: An introduction

Each year, the Young Fellows Association (YFA) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Communications Committee hosts an essay contest, with previous topics ranging from surgical education to the promise of a profession. These essays are typically uplifting, inspirational, reveal insights into our careers, and motivate us to new levels of excellence.

Unfortunately, as the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was in high gear this past year, YFA members were understandably unresponsive to our call to participate in the annual essay contest. So, instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, we embraced it, staying true to the positive and problem-solving culture of the YFA. The essay topic this year is Starting 2021 off Right: Positive Lessons Learned from a Pandemic and How Medicine Has Pushed Forward.

That was all we needed to garner interest in this year’s essay contest—just a bit more time. And, maybe, that is what we all need—just a bit more time to think about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we want to be in the future. With time, more people will get vaccinated. With time, we will gain more insight into what happened last year and process this trauma. With time, we will get back to “normal,” albeit a new normal.

With the added time for the essay contest, the YFA received multiple wonderfully written, positive, and purposeful essays. Please take a few minutes to read and enjoy this essay by Laura S. Johnson, MD, FCCP, FACS. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, turn your phone on silent, enjoy your back porch, stop whatever it is you are doing, and give yourself a break; take this time to enjoy this essay.

It is important to note that Dr. Johnson’s essay was written and accepted before the recent surge associated with the COVID-19 Delta variant. Regardless of when it was written, the essay still provides unique insight that can help ground us and remind us of our calling. We welcome you to find like-minded individuals within the YFA, the Resident and Associate Society, or the ACS. Thanks for taking the time to read this introduction and Dr. Johnson’s essay.

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