Jo Buyske, MD, FACS

Quick, come up with half a dozen adjectives to describe a surgeon. Your list might include words like skilled, intelligent, dedicated, compassionate, calm and respected. But odds are the word “altruistic” didn’t make your list, and American Board of Surgery (ABS) Executive Director Jo Buyske, MD, FACS, thinks that’s a shame.

On Monday, Dr. Buyske will deliver SSAT’s annual Maja and Frank G. Moody State-of-the-Art Lecture, which she has titled “To Protect the Public and Enhance the Profession.” During her 45-minute lecture, she will challenge surgeons to leverage their skills to give back.

“We’ve all had a little luck and the wisdom and work ethic that led us to a profession that is so fulfilling,” said Dr. Buyske, past president of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES). “We’re fulfilled every day because we get paid to take care of people.”

Dr. Buyske believes surgeons have a responsibility to give back — either by sharing their services in underprivileged areas or by exploring volunteer leadership roles within the profession.

“I hope to inspire and reinvigorate those who have become tired or discouraged,” Dr. Buyske said. “Sometimes you need to really look at the great work we do as surgeons and how sharing our skills can be good for us and our community. As humans, we’re biologically programmed to do good. On positron emission tomography (PET) scans, our occipital frontal cortex lights up when we do something selfless. Our pleasure centers are engaged.”

Surgeons, she said, are uniquely positioned to do good and, in return, feel good.

“There’s no substitute for a surgeon. Our skills cannot be delegated,” she said. “Surgeons are also excellent volunteer leaders and spend more time volunteering compared to other medical professions.”

Throughout her career, Dr. Buyske has not only volunteered in leadership roles in surgical societies, she has also volunteered her surgical services in Haiti, Nepal and Mozambique.

As president of SAGES, she championed initiatives to increase volunteerism, including organizing blood drives, bone marrow testing sites, high school mentor programs and medical supply drives. She also initiated a task force to identify service opportunities for members.

Before being named executive director of ABS, Dr. Buyske was chief of surgery and director of minimally invasive surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, and associate professor of clinical surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She remains on staff at the university as an adjunct professor of surgery. Her clinical experience has focused on applications of minimally invasive surgery and gastrointestinal surgery.

Please refer to the DDW Mobile App or the Program section in Monday’s issue for the time and location of this and other DDW® events.