2014 "Lives in Medicine" Conference

Our Inaugural conference took place on August 23, 2014 in chicago, IL

SPAPP co-founders Joanna (left) and Marysia (right) pose for a photo with Dr. Maria Siemionow, keynote speaker.

SPAPP co-founders Joanna (left) and Marysia (right) pose for a photo with Dr. Maria Siemionow, keynote speaker.

 

“A journey lay ahead that would take me through many countries, many institutions, and many patients' lives.”

— Dr. Maria Siemionow, Transplanting a Face: Notes on a life in Medicine

 
 

Text below, courtesy of Andrzej Mikolajczyk.

The “Lives in Medicine Conference” took place on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at the Polish Museum of America.  It was a full day conference with a number of interesting presentations and workshops. Approximately 60 students and aspiring healthcare professionals attended the conference. The day included various seminars about the application process, a small group mentoring lunch with current students and health professionals, and a resource fair featuring a dozen medical organizations and institutions from around the Midwest. The purpose of the Conference was to create an opportunities for aspiring students who are ready “to step into the life of a healthcare professional and strengthen theircurrent position in the increasingly competitive applicant pool”.

Chet Szerlag, Vice Chair for Finance and Director of Administrative Operations at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System gave a very insightful presentation “Healthcare: an Industry and It’s Professions in Transition”.  Szerlag presented many vital facts about the current changes in our healthcare system.  He discussed future trends and transitions in the health care system.  The Baby Boomer generation (1946-1963), currently the largest generation in the US, is reaching retirement age by the thousands every single day.  This will create an incredible need for additional health care services.

“What exactly does the life of a PA or DO/MD look like? What can I really expect from a career in healthcare? What healthcare profession fits me best?” These were some of the questions that students heard the answers to.  The advice that they received will help them clarify their individual paths to a life in medicine.

Dr. Kornelia Krol, President of the Polish American Medical Society in Chicago and a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, gave a presentation titled “Considering Your Options Before Match”. Her talk included an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of studying medicine abroad. Dr. Josephine Dlugopolski-Gach shared some personal experiences from her path to becoming a physician, including her service as a community volunteer and activist. She is a specialist in internal medicine and pediatrics at Loyola University Medical Center currently. Dr. Anna Szpindor, former President of the Polish American Medical Society and currently a practicing allergist, shared some insights about mentoring. She was excited to see her daughter-Marysia Szpindor-Watson, a medical student, leading the Conference as a co-chair of the organizing committee.

 
 

The Society of Polish American Pre-Health Professionals (SPAPP), is dedicated to helping students learn about careers in healthcare and how to reach them. Their goal is “to entice, foster and support passion for medicine in young Polish Americans through mentorship, scholarship and opportunity”. By connecting current medical professionals with aspiring professionals, they hope to provide people interested in health careers with a better understanding of the profession that best fits with their genuine passions, interests and lives. Organizing the “Lives in Medicine” conference is one way they are working to achieve their goal.

Another purpose of the Conference was provide participants with an understanding of different paths to becoming a healthcare professional and to give them the opportunity to be mentored by current medical students, residents and professionals.

The Keynote Address during the Conference was presented by Dr. Maria Siemionow, MD/PhD, who is a renowned Polish-American surgeon. She shared some of the challenges that she faced and her experiences leading up to the first face transplant in the United States. She coordinated a team of two dozen medical experts during 22 hours of complex face transplant surgery. Her patient is currently alive and her life has been transformed by the surgery. She now feels more accepted by society and enjoys her life. Dr. Siemionow’s primary objective during the full face surgery was to help the patient regain the basic functions of her face. There have only been several dozen face transplant surgeries in the world during the last two decades. The risks for such surgeries are very high. They require a team of experts and afterwards they require cooperative patients due to the lifetime requirement for immunosuppressive medication.

The conference was organized by Joanna P. Tomaszewski, research associate at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Marysia Szpindor-Watson, medical student, Lukasz Sewera, MD-PhD student, Patricia Jamrozowich, health systems management professional, Angelica Rusilowski, PA student, Martin Wrobel, medical student, Agata Turowski, health systems administration student and Agatha Kielczewski, publicity chair.  They truly deserve recognition.