Dr. Barbara Pettitt Receives Olga Jonasson Award

September 2014

The Association of Women Surgeons Foundation has announced that Dr. Barbara Pettitt has been recognized with the 2014 Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award. The Jonasson Award is given to AWS members who exemplify the organization's mission to inspire, encourage, and enable women surgeons to realize their professional and personal goals. Dr. Pettitt has been a member since 1986. The foundation component of the organization was formed in 1996 to fund such AWS initiatives as a visiting professor program, research fellowships, and mentoring and networking opportunities.

Dr. Olga Jonasson was the first female chair of an academic department of surgery and a leader in the American College of Surgeons. After chairing the Department of Surgery at Chicago's Cook County Hospital for ten years, she was appointed chair of surgery and Robert M. Zollinger Professor of Surgery at Ohio State University in 1987. In 1993 she returned to Chicago and began serving as director of education and surgical services at the ACS, doing much to shape the organization's research portfolio. Dr. Jonasson died in 2006.

As the director of medical student education for the Department of Surgery of the Emory University School of Medicine, Dr. Pettitt has coordinated, managed, and presented a wide array of didactic courses and skills labs to medical students and surgical residents. She has enhanced the scope of Emory surgical trainees' learning experiences by spearheading the development of electronic teaching sites; devising learning objectives, instructional guidelines, and assessment checklists for various simulation training modules of the American College of Surgeons/Association of Surgical Education's Medical Student Simulation-Based Surgical Skills Curriculum; and initiating educational scenarios in trauma evaluation and management using both full-body simulators and actors playing patients.

Since joining the Department in 1985, Dr. Pettitt's tenures as chief of surgery at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital (now Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding), chief of pediatric surgical services of the Grady Health System, and director of education for the Emory Endosurgery Unit have allowed her to encourage and influence hundreds of surgical and pediatric residents and medical students during their rotations. She has also managed several of the surgery follow-up clinics that cap Emory Medishare's surgical trips to Haiti, which are staffed by attending, resident, and medical student teams.

"Dr. Pettitt influences and encourages every Emory medical student, particularly women," says Dr. Keith Delman, program director of the Emory general surgery residency, who nominated Dr. Pettitt for the award. "Her positive impact is reflected in the fact that our surgery and surgical specialties accrue the greatest number of applicants from our graduating medical student class. In addition, her enthusiasm for her work and her warmth and compassion earn her the affection and respect of her students and colleagues. The Jonasson Award is national recognition of Dr. Pettitt's commitment to high standards of performance and educational achievement and her passion for cultivating the next generation of surgeons."