An Exclusive Interview With Former President of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons,
Dr. Lynn Jeffers Q: You recently served as President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Can you tell us what this meant to you and did you accomplish what you set out to do? LJ: Being President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons was an honor and a privilege. Despite the COVID pandemic, we were able to accomplish what we set out to do. At the beginning of my presidency, I wanted to focus on technology/innovation/disruption and on valuing our physician members. I created a presidential task force on technology that will build an infrastructure within ASPS that will not only address technology used by the society in our work, but also support our members interested in technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We are also looking at the big ideas such as artificial intelligence, biosensors, block chain, etc. and making sure that we keep our society well-positioned to address potential opportunities and threats. In addition, we had a deliberate focus on making sure to recognize and engage our volunteer physician leaders. At the end of the day, this is a member organization, and we are thankful for their dedication and time that they give to ASPS and our specialty. Of course, we could not have anticipated COVID-19 and I am very proud of ASPS’s response to this pandemic. We were able to set up a COVID resource page for our members with regular webinars. We set up a clearinghouse for members to offer PPE and ventilators to other facilities in need. This caught the attention of the White House COVID Task Force which ultimately led us to help source over 6 million masks to New York alone as well as working with FEMA and other governor’s offices. When it was time to consider reopening, we responded to our members’ needs for access to PPE by having ASPS buy PPE in bulk and thus allowing our members access to PPE. Ultimately, I am so proud of the response of our physicians and our staff in coming together, being proactive, and responding effectively to the COVID pandemic. Q: Why is it important for a plastic surgeon to be a member of ASPS? LJ: The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world. We are here not only for our plastic surgeon members but also our patients. Our advocacy, research, education efforts (of the public as well as plastic surgeons) promote patient safety, ethics, and excellence in plastic surgery. We continue to promote collaboration and science not only in the US but globally with our global partners. We continue to support important
initiatives such as our clinical registries, task forces, and research endeavors that will lead to data that we need to better address topics such as implant safety, surgical safety, proper training, and best practices. ASPS is here also for our members to provide resources for their everyday practices both operationally as well as clinically and also helps to facilitate communication, networking and camaraderie among our members. Q: Can you tell us about your current positions as Chief Medical Officer at St John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital, and Medical Director of the Integrated Breast Center at St. John’s? LJ: I currently serve as the Chief Medical Officer at Dignity Health St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital which is a part of CommonSpirit Health. During the COVID crisis, I covered an additional hospital while their CMO was out. The Integrated Breast Center offers a community-based team-based approach to breast cancer care. The Center is nationally accredited and has been the recipient of a number of national grants. For the last 11 years, we have held a Breast Symposium that has grown from 30 attendees to 300 attendees last year. This year, of course, we will host a virtual symposium, but we look forward to being hold one in person next year (hopefully!). Q: Tell us about your private practice you have as a plastic surgeon in Ventura County, Calif, and why you chose to become a plastic surgeon. LJ: I am in solo private practice and share the office with my husband who is an Orthopaedic surgeon . I specialize in breast surgery, as well as non-invasive and minimally-invasive procedures such as injectables (Botox/fillers). I was drawn to plastic surgery because in plastic surgery, you create and rebuild. That really appealed to me. One of my first exposures to plastic surgery was watching one of my research mentors in the operating room build an ear for a patient who was born without one, using the cartilage from her rib. It was fascinating and I was hooked. Today, I am so grateful to be able to help people every day. Many of my breast cancer reconstruction patients, I have known for years and there really is no comparison to the satisfaction you get, knowing that you make a difference in people’s lives. Q: Most of your medical education was done in Michigan … how did you end up in Southern California? LJ: I grew up in southern California. I went to Michigan because I was accepted into medical school out of high school
AMA meeting during her first campaign for a seat on the AMA Council on Medical Service and thus did my undergraduate education, medical school education, and residency training in Michigan. I returned to California after finishing my training, and I now live in the same community in which I grew up. Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance? LJ: It is definitely a day-by-day, even hour-by-hour, adjustment. I am fortunate to have a very supportive family including having my parents living nearby. My husband and I joke that our children did ok, DESPITE us. For better or worse, we were too busy to helicopter parent our kids and they had to learn independence and resourcefulness early in life. I have many stories that we laugh about now. Balance is a moving target, but I would say that it starts with self-assessment and being aware of what is really meaningful--what are your real priorities. I don’t sleep much, but even so, more recently, I find that I have had to set limits and recognize that you can’t do all things all of the time. Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience? LJ: Never underestimate the importance of relationships. It is the personal connections that not only make the work we do meaningful but also, I believe, personal connections are the key to success. I also believe in the importance of leaving things better than you found them both in terms of the organization itself but the people. I have certainly benefited from the mentorship of many people and I hope to be that for others. Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments in your career? LJ: Some of the most meaningful milestones in my career
were starting my own practice, spearheading the Integrated Breast Center, assuming my Chief Medical Officer (in addition to my practice), being elected as one of 11 members of the American Medical Association’s Council on Medical Service, and most recently, my term as president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In fact, at the end of my presidency, I was chosen for two awards: the ASPS Patients of Courage and the Young At Heart award that really meant so much to me as it really reminded me why I do what I do -advocating for my patients and mentoring those after me. Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today? LJ: Sometimes, women may have a difficult time finding mentors and seeing role models in leadership, depending on the arena. Also, it can take some work to understand how to navigate a particular environment and finding ways to be heard that are effective. Studies have shown that women cannot employ the same tactics in the boardroom as men do, as they are not as effective for women. With more recognition of these differences, more work is being done as to effective strategies specifically for women, we can promote better functioning teams and organizations. Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career as a Doctor? LJ: Being a physician is such a rewarding profession. Every day you can look in the mirror and know that you can help people directly. However, know that the number of years of education, training, and sacrifices can be daunting, so find your mentors and find your “why”. Make sure to pay attention to self-care and to not neglect the other portions of your life as those are just as crucial to a whole, meaningful life.