A third-year student at McGovern Medical School accepted the 2018 Medical Student Scholarship to the Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Society (VESS) Next Generation Medical Student Symposium at the group’s winter meeting last week.

Samuel Leonard received the award during a presentation Feb. 3 at the 42nd Annual Winter Meeting in Vail, Colo. The meeting, held from Feb. 1 through 4, offers vascular surgeons, fellows, residents, medical students, and health professionals from across the world a chance to interact and exchange knowledge regarding effective clinical management of vascular disorder, discuss research, and gain insight into current and up-and-coming technology. The $1,000 scholarship covers costs for students to travel to the Next Generation Medical Student Symposium, which features a combination of didactic lectures and small group sessions to share research, provide guidance, and offer chances for meaningful interactions between students and vascular surgery residents, fellows, and young faculty in attendance.

Leonard said he was excited and honored when he found out about winning the award. Initially he didn’t know what to expect and after not hearing back from the organization, he asked his mentor, Dr. Kristofer M. Charlton-Ouw, associate professor of vascular surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, program director of the Vascular Surgery Residency Program, and co-director of the department’s Clinical Science Program and director of the Vascular Laboratory, to check in on him.

“They said I had won, but they had my email address wrong,” Leonard said with a laugh.

Leonard said attending the meeting was beneficial in a variety of ways and he was able to practice different bypass procedures in a surgical skills lab and learn where the field of vascular surgery is headed. Above all, he said receiving the scholarship and attending the meeting reinforced his commitment to the field and plans to apply to the integrated vascular surgery residency program in the fall. Leonard also said the visit stimulated discussion for potential new papers.

“It was a huge confirmation that vascular surgery was the right field for me,” Leonard said. “The opportunity to interact with people in the field was invaluable to me.”

Founded in 1976 as the Peripheral Vascular Surgery Society, VESS seeks to improve the science and art of vascular surgery and endovascular therapies and the interchange of medical knowledge and information thereon and to promote basic and clinical research for improving the quality and safety of vascular surgical and endovascular procedures and vascular care in general.