Kathy Hughes: Threat to the story

Kathy Hughes shares her struggle to keep emotional distance from her work as a surgeon versus the desire to express herself through creative writing.

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Kathryn A. (Kathy) Hughes, MD, FACS
 is a board certified General Surgeon who has spent the majority of her career in private practice/community hospitals. She is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Surgeon Storytellers Delight and Awe in Washington, DC

Last Monday, October 17, 2016, Springer Nature Storytellers returned to the stage and opened the fall season with a live surgery-themed show in Washington, DC, the location for the 2016 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress(ACSCC).

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Co-hosts, Shane M. Hanlon and Farah Z. Ahmad, photo by Michael Bonfigli

After a busy first day in the exhibit hall, Springer staff, authors and curious members of the public gathered at Busboys and Poets, a beautiful local neighborhood hangout in the historic Mount Vernon Triangle district, just steps from ACSCC, for an evening of storytelling by surgeons themselves. Guests staked out their spots in the theatre-style set-up, enjoying a drink on the house and indulging in complimentary refreshments as they waited for the show to begin.

Without a chair to spare, co-hosts, Shane M. Hanlon and Farah Z. Ahmad, both members of our partnering organization, The Story Collider, took the stage and warmed up the audience with anecdotes and experiences related to surgery, from their own lives.

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Dr. Mahul B. Amin, photo by Michael Bonfigli

Our first storyteller and Springer author, Dr. Mahul B. Amin, Editor in Chief of the much-anticipated 8th edition of the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual, took the stage with a smile and an enthralling tale of growing up in India, remarking on how his father’s career as a door-to-door physician impacted his work in developing personalized patient care  as one of the world’s leading pathologists.

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Dr. Marie Crandall, photo by Michael Bonfigli

Dr. Marie Crandall took our breath away with first-person accounts of the devastation a trauma surgeon witnesses due to gunshot fatality among Chicago’s youth. Her passion and motivation to change the circumstances within which she works, including details of the incredible research she has led, left the audience suspended in disbelief.

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Amy Oestreicher, photo by Michael Bonfigli

Before a brief intermission, Amy Oestreicher, a storyteller from The Story Collider, injected a patient perspective into the mix with a remarkable personal account of having experienced over 30 surgeries to-date.

With drinks topped off and guests back in there seats, Dr. Kathy Hughes shared how building a social media presence and committing to science communication has helped her create an important balance between the nature of her job as a surgeon and her life-long dream of being a writer.

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Dr. Kathy A. Hughes, photo by Michael Bonfigli
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Dr. Rob B. Lim, photo by Michael Bonfigli

Before the night came to end, Dr. Robert B. Lim, author of the 2016 Springer title, Surgery During Natural Disasters, Combat, Terrorist Attacks, and Crisis Situations, shocked the room and yet gave us quite a few laughs with his accounts of being deployed to Iraq as part of a Forward Surgical Team in the United States Army.


Our opening show was a huge success and we can’t wait to give you an opportunity to hear these incredible stories for yourself here on the blog once the podcasts have been published.

Our next stops are Springer Nature Storytellers at the American Society of Criminology 2016 Annual Meeting next month in New Orleans (registration is now live) and Springer Nature Storytellers at American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2016 in San Francisco. Stay tuned for more updates and as always, if you have a story that you’d like to tell, visit our Pitch Page to find out how you can become a Springer Nature Storyteller!