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VCU surgeon Paula Ferrada takes on new roles as a leader for young surgeons, women

Paula Ferrada was recently elected chair of the Young Fellows Association of the American College...
Paula Ferrada was recently elected chair of the Young Fellows Association of the American College of Surgeons. (File photo)

Paula Ferrada, M.D., an ardent advocate for inclusivity in the field of surgery, was recently elected chair of the Young Fellows Association of the American College of Surgeons and secretary of the Panamerican Trauma Society.

Ferrada, professor of surgery in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, is a national leader in the “I Look Like a Surgeon” social media campaign, which affirms that physicians, especially surgeons, don’t conform to a prescribed appearance. For Ferrada, director of the VCU Surgical Critical Care Fellowship, the appointments further her goal of promoting diversity in the field of surgery. She works to advance the careers of young surgeons, increase their representation in the field and bring more career-building opportunities to surgeons in Latin America. 

“I want to bring meaning to my career by providing the same mentorship I have received in my career,” she said. “I can accomplish this mission through focusing on the development of young surgeons nationally and internationally.”

The American College of Surgeons, founded in 1913, is the largest association of surgeons in the world. Ferrada’s leadership in the Young Fellows Association is significant because about 40 percent of ACS members are younger than 45.

“The Young Fellows Association helps young surgeons with work-life balance, how to transition from training to practice and how to become a good leader and mentor,” she said. “We enhance the voice of young surgeons in academic and private practice” 

The Panamerican Trauma Society was founded in Colombia in 1986 to improve the care and management of trauma patients in Latin America. The organization has grown to include emergency physicians, internists, nurses, paramedics, residents and medical students. 

“Physicians in parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia have less opportunities and resources for professional development and to publish research than their peers in the U.S. or Europe,” she said. “But surgeons in low- or medium-income countries often have an incredible amount of trauma experience to bring to the table.” 

Ferrada said ensuring that young surgeons, women and minorities have the same educational and research opportunities furthers the profession.

“It’s important to mentor future leaders and guide young, female or minority professionals who otherwise have fewer avenues of expressing their ideas or receiving guidance in research,” she said.