Community practice surgeon Dr. Seung Gwon, who owns her solo practice in El Centro, Calif., says she always knew she “wanted a lot of autonomy” as a physician.
A California native, Dr. Gwon graduated from the Chicago Medical School and completed her residency at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. She joined SAGES in 2011, after close friend and SAGES member Dr. Gretchen Purcell-Jackson asked her to sit on a panel discussing social media use among physicians.
Initially a member of the Educational Resources Committee, Dr. Gwon was encouraged by Dr. Purcell-Jackson to join the Community Practice committee as a way to connect with others in private practice. She says, “Of all the things I’ve done as a SAGES member, participating in the Community Practice committee is the most memorable. It’s fascinating to learn about how others problem solve in their own practices and hospitals.”
“It’s easy to feel disenfranchised as a solo general surgeon, she adds. “Members of this group are very kind and inclusive.” While Dr. Gwon says that committee chair Dr. Caitlin Halbert is the group’s collective voice, she also points to other committee members, like Drs. Shirin Towfigh and Mercedeh Baghai, whose experience in the surgical community benefits the entire group.
While she adds that it’s especially hard for solo practitioners to take time off to attend conferences, Dr. Gwon – who plans to be a SAGES member until she retires – makes a point to attend the SAGES annual meeting every year. “It’s not just about the CME; it’s important to know what’s current and what the standards are. The meeting is fun, panels are really entertaining and it’s opportunity to come together and reinforce our love for surgery.”
Dr. Gwon, who operates a second surgical practice focused on veins and aesthetics, is also involved in Friends with Purpose and is part of the group’s upcoming medical mission to Guatemala. Somehow she also manages to find time to surf, snowboard (“I’m a lifetime beginner”) and rock climb—though she’s careful not to hurt her hands with this hobby!