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A portrait of the surgeon Dr. Patricia L. Turner

06 Oct 2010

Dr Turnier

Dr. Turner, MD nee Patricia Lynne Turner was born in Maryland. Since her childhood, Dr. Turner knew that medicine was her thing. She had the confidence, the determination and the maturity to decide in an early age the career she would pursue. She told us in our interview: "In my earliest recollection of knowing about career options, in elementary school when I was about 6 year-old I wanted to be a surgeon". We asked her if she had mentors to look up to when she was a child: "I didn’t have specific inspirations from physicians. I didn’t have doctors in my family. However, I could say that my mother, as a science teacher was definitely an influence to pursue a career where we find math and other scientific related domains".

During our conversation, we wanted to know why Dr. Turner chose surgery over other specialities and what attracted her in this speciality.  She expressed that she always was drawn to surgery since her childhood and this mindset never changed since then. “I wanted to be a surgeon since I was a child. I was always attracted to this speciality. I never had doubts and I never wanted to do anything beside surgery.  It wasn’t appealing for me to be involved in other fields of medicine especially in those who have to deal with chronic care.  I like the immediate gratification that this field provides when you solve the problem.  As a surgeon, you help improve the quality of life of the patients”.

Dr. Turner is a general surgeon and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine.  She is an associate program director for the General Surgery Residency Program at the University of Maryland Medical Centre. She serves as chair of the Surgical Caucus of the American Medical Association Young Physicians Section and is a member of the Editorial Board of Surgical News. Her academic interests include teaching and training paradigms for medical students and residents in open and laparoscopic surgery. 

Dr. Turner received her medical degree at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and completed her surgical residency at Howard University Hospital.  Throughout the time of her residency, she was a senior staff fellow at the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism.  Dr. Turner’s fellowship training was in minimally invasive and laparoscopic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center & Weill-Cornell University School of Medicine in New York. 

Dr. Turner''s clinical practice focuses on minimally invasive/laparoscopic, gastrointestinal and endocrine surgery. She has a diverse research background, including studying nitric oxide and the kidneys. In organized medicine, Dr. Turner has held the role of the resident on the general surgery RRC and was the resident member on the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs.  Seeing that Dr.  Turner has a considerable experience in her field, we asked her what was her best operation and why. “This is a tough question to answer”, she said. “I guess, I would say that every operation have a different scenario which is exciting.  It happens that I have to deal with trauma patients, life and death situations.  I enjoy to use new techniques (such as laparoscopy when we first tried it) which have not been used before. I like that kind of challenge and opportunity. There are specific patients which resonate with you”.

It is important to note that 76% of Baltimore’s African-American males (among 16 to 24 year-old young adults) drop out before graduation according to a 2001 study at the John Hopkins University.  Given that Dr.  Turner works in the state of Maryland, we wanted to know what kind of advise she has for those young people who want to succeed in any fields including medicine despite the hurdles. “Well, I think there is no reason that those individuals cannot pursue studies in medicine, law, engineering or anything else they wish to do.  The statistics do not define the destiny of an individual. The numbers may seem discouraging but I think the best deterrent is to focus on academical excellence.  In this respect, Dr.  Turner thinks that excellency is the key to break the glass ceiling for minorities.  “Superior grades are certainly the foundation for all of us”, she expressed.  She added:  “When you are among the best, there is always a place for you. Once the young people identified the area where they want to pursue their careers, they should find a mentor who succeeded in the field they chose.  For medicine, with excellent grades and research experience or community services these factors will be great credentials to distinguished themselves. I can also say that one of the best ways to not be deterred by negative people that you can find in every level is to surround yourself with positive people who believe in you ”.

During the interview we asked Dr. Turner what is the best way (for students who want to pursue their studies in medicine) to seek the tutelage of prosectors or any other mentors in the medical field.  She responded:  “It depends on the level of the student.  If you are in high school you can find a mentor who will guide you to be admitted in college. There are organizations which have set mentoring programs such as the American College of Surgeons. They take students from high schools and colleges to surgery meetings. The AMA have mentors who are guiding the future physicians with teachings and trainings. They have also a community service projects where they go to high schools or junior highs.  I think many of the medical organizations intervene by providing mentorships”. 

It is important to mention that the noteworthy Black Enterprise magazine (May 2008 issue) named Dr. Turner among the United States’ leading physicians.  The "America''s Leading Doctors" list of this magazine includes 140 top-rated African-American physicians and surgeons throughout the U.S. who are advancing medicine.  Physicians selected for the list are judged to be leaders in their respective fields, to be superior in service and reputation, and have been confirmed as being certified in accordance with the American Board of Medical Specialities. The 2008 list placed special emphasis on those who have been involved in medical breakthroughs across specialities.  The list''s editors consulted leading medical associations, health care organizations, the nation''s top medical schools, and other top-ranked physicians to compile this year''s.  We asked Dr. Turner what the Black Enterprise magazine’s recognition meant to her :  « It is a great honour to be appreciated among my peers.  It is a vessel to outdo myself even more ».  

During our discussion, we wanted to know what advice Dr. Turner have for young people (regardless of their origins) who aspire to make their place in the medical world and who wish to become a successful surgeon:  “Surgery is one of the most competitive fields in medicine so, I reiterate that excellence is a must in medical school for everybody.  It is important also to develop a research expertise, experiences in volunteerism, community services and clinical practice.  They have of course to excel in all those spheres.  Strong letters of recommendation are imperative to be admitted in medical faculties.  Regarding more specifically the surgery field, the physicians need to develop special technical skills.  They need to create an excellent rapport with the patients to provide excellent care.  They have to be great communicators.  To finish they have to be life long learners to update themselves with all the novelties of their field”.  In addition to all this, Dr. Turner thinks that physicians can also distinguish themselves by pursuing an academical career with a contribution in the scientific literature. 

It is interesting to note that Dr. Turner is quite active in the American College of Surgeons, serving as a member of the Committee on Informatics, the Committee on Young Surgeons, the Committee on Patient Education, and the Task Force on Practice Based Learning and Improvement.  It is also important to mention that Dr. Turner has been involved in other fields such as politics.  She was an AMA member for 17 years, a member of the YPS for almost 5 years, and a governing council member for about two years.  We asked her if she wishes to pursue in the future a political career.  She expressed during our interview:  “At this point of my life, I do not have necessarily political aspirations.  However, I always keep my options open.  I was fortunate enough in the past to work as a parliamentarian.  I was a Speaker of the American Medical Association, Young Physicians Section.  There are opportunities with the AMA to be a speaker for the entire House of Delegates of the AMA”. 

At the end of the interview, we asked Dr. Turner what advice can she give to females professionals who have to manage their careers and their personal lives.  “It is important to ally yourself with people who will be supportive:  a partner, your family, your friends and so on.  A strong support system is imperative.  You have to be very efficient with your time especially for females who have responsibilities at home and at work.  They have to be able to wear different hats successfully”. 

To sum up, Dr. Turner contributes in the medical field in a significant manner.  Based on her body of experience, we are anticipating her next contribution in the scientific field.  Interview conducted by Patricia Turnier (founder of www.megadiversities.com) the 27th of April 2010.   
             

Academic and Professional achievements: 

Education: 

- MD, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, 1996

- BA, Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1992 

Post graduate training: 

- Clinical Fellow, Minimally Invasive & Laparoscopic Surgery - Mount Sinai Medical Center & Weill-Cornell University School of Medicine, New York, NY, 2003-2004 

- Categorical Intern and Resident in Surgery, Howard University Hospital - Washington, DC, 1996-1998, 2000-2003 

- Senior Staff Fellow, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Laboratory ofKidney and Electrolyte Metabolism, Bethesda, Maryland, 1998-2000 

- DSI Advanced Laparoscopic Resident Courses, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Cincinnati, OH, December 2001 & June 2012 

Medical Licenses: 

DC 1997

MD 1998

NY 2003 

Board Certification: 

American Board of Surgery 2005

Special Interests: 

·         Minimally Invasive Surgery

·         Laparoscopic Surgery

·         Gastrointestinal Surgery

·         Endocrine Surgery

·         General Surgery  

Endorsements: 

  • American College of Surgeons
  • MedChi, Maryland State Medical Society

Work Experience:

AUGUST 2004 TO PRESENT

Attending Surgeon & Assistant Professor of Surgery

Program Director, General Surgery Residency Program

University of Maryland Medical Center 

 

JUNE 2003-JUNE 2004

Clinical Instructor, Department of Surgery

Surgery Attending & Minimal Invasive Surgery FellowMount Sinai Medical Center & Weill-Cornell School of Medicine 

 

JULY 1996 - JUNE 1998 & JULY 2000 – JUNE 2003

Surgery resident (Chief Resident 2002-2003)

Howard University Hospital JULY 1998 – JUNE 2000

Senior staff fellow, National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute

Laboratory of Kidney & Electrolyte Metabolism, National Institute of Health 

 

JUNE 1993 – JUNE 1996

Graduate research assistant

Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, Bowman Gray School of Medicine  

 

Honours and Awards: 

1993 Bowman Gray School of Medicine Student Research Day Competition Award

1994 Student National Medical Association Research Forum Award1994 Lange Medical Publication Award

1994 Bristol-Myers Squibb/National Medical Fellowships Fellow in Academic Medicine1995 Slack Award for Medical Journalism

1996 American Medical Association/Glaxo Wellcome Leadership Achievement Award

1996 Richard L. Burt Research Achievement Award1998 National Institutes of Health/National Medical Association Travel Award1999 Pfizer Resident Travel Award; American College of Surgeons

2000 American Physiological Society Travel Fellowship Award

2000 American Federation for Medical Research Trainee Travel Award

2000 American Federation for Medical Research Henry Christian Award

2000 Drew-Walker Surgical Residents’ Research Forum, 1 prize for basic science

2000 Aventis Pharma Hypertension Research Clinical Fellowship Award, American Heart Association

2001 National Institutes of Health Fellows Award for Research Excellence

2002 Chairman’s Award, Howard University Hospital Department of Surgery

2002 Howard University Hospital Medical Staff Resident Leadership Award

2003 Association of Women Surgeons Outstanding Woman Resident Award

2005 Henry C. Welcome Fellowship Grant2008 Claude H. Organ, MD, FACS Traveling Fellowship Award 

 

Research Grants:

National Medical Fellowships

Effect of b-amyloid protein on neuronal cell survival during development and following injury

National Institutes of Health

The regulation of neuronal survival and differentiation, (supp. to RO1 grant; LJ Houenou, PI)

National Institutes of Health

Effects of protease nexin-1 and neurotropins on neuronal cell survival during development and

American Heart Association

Long-term effect of nitric oxide inhibition on Na transporter abundance in kidney: a targeted proteomics approach 

Joan F. Giambalvo Memorial Scholarship Grant (American Medical Association)

The impact of attitudes regarding bearing and rearing children on female general surgery residents 

 

Professional Societies: 

American Medical Association

Past Chair, Young Physicians Section Surgical Caucus

Governing Council, Young Physicians Section (YPS)

Alternate Delegate to AMA House of Delegates from YPS

American College of Surgeons, Fellow

American Society of General Surgeons

Association for Academic Surgery

Association for Surgical Education

Association of Women Surgeons

MedChi, Maryland Medical Society

National Association of Medical CommunicatorsNational Medical Association

Chair, Resident Physician Section 1999-2001

Long-Term Planning Committee (HOD) 2000-2003

Executive Committee, Surgical Section

Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons

Society of Black Academic Surgeons

Southeastern Surgical Congress 

SOME APPOINTMENTS & CONSULTATIONS:  

2000-2003 American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs

2001 Association of Program Directors in Surgery Task Force on Short and Long Term Issues

2002-2004 Residency Review Committee for Surgery 

002-2004 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Resident Council

2002 Participant, American Board of Surgery Retreat on Graduate Surgical Education2002 Howard University Hospital Department of Surgery Research Committee

2005-2007 Association for Academic Surgery Institutional Representative

2006-Present American Medical Association Young Physician Section Alternate Delegate to HOD

2008-Present Program Director, University of Maryland General Surgery Residency

2007-2010 American Board of Surgery Examination Consultant to Qualifying Examination Committee 

 

Editorial Boards: 

Surgery News 2004-2009

Journal of Medical Sciences Research 2007-Present 

Ad Hoc Editorial Reviewer:

Archives of  Surgery

Journal of  the American College of Surgeons

Surgical Endoscopy

Surgical Innovation

American Surgeon 

SOME PUBLICATIONS, ABSTRACTS & PRESENTATIONS 

Askonas, LJ, Turner, PL, Penning, TM. Synthesis and evaluation of affinity labeling analogs based on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. FASEB 4: A1123, April 1990.

Bush, PJ, Obeidallah, DO, Turner, PL. The pharmacist''s changing role in drug prescription techniques for pediatric otitis media. NCPIE, 1991.

Obeidallah, DA, Turner, PL, Iannotti, RJ, O''Brien, RW, Haynie, DL, and Galper, DI. Investigations of children''s knowledge and understanding of AIDS. JOSH, March 1993.

Turner, PL, Li, L, Houenou, LJ. The serine protease inhibitor, Protease Nexin I, rescues spinal motoneurons from programmed and axotomy induced cell death. N. Stud. Res. Forum, 35:149, 1994Turner, PL, Li, L, Proctor, VL, Burek, MJ, Festoff, BW, Houenou, LJ. Serine Protease Inhibitors, PN-I and PN-II prevent motoneuron cell death. Soc. Neurosci. Africa, Capetown, South Africa, April 1997.

Invited Lecture: Turner, PL, Knepper, MA. The kidney’s role in hypertension. African-American Youth Initiative, NIH, June 1999.

Invited Lecture: Turner, PL, Knepper, MA. The kidney’s role in hypertension. Biomedical Research Training Program for Underrepresented Minorities, NIH, February 2000.

S Masilamani, PL Turner, I Reyes, GF DiBona, MA Knepper. Dysregulation of Na transporters in a rat model of congestive heart failure. FASEB 14:4, A372, March 2000.

L. Milone, P. Turner, M. Gagner. Laparoscopic surgery for pancreatic tumors, an update.Minerva Chir. April 2004, 59(2): 165-73.

Turner, PL, George, IM, Mastrangelo, MJ, Kavic, S, Park, AE. 3-Dimensional (3-D) modeling of CT scan data for preoperative planning in laparoscopic adrenalectomy, SAGES 2006.

Franco E, Park H, Kavic SM, Turner P, Greenwald B, Park AE, Roth JS. Percutaneous

Endoscopic Gastrostomy: A safe technique in patients receiving corticosteroids. SAGES 2007.

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