Hail to the Chief: Christine Reyes-Santos

ACAPS Program Coordinators

December 2, 2022

Christine Reyes-Santos is the Residency Program Manager for Stanford’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Residency Program. She started her term as the President of the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons Program Coordinators in October 2022.

Rachel Baker: What is the ACAPS Program Coordinators Group?<
Christine Reyes-Santos: The ACAPS Program Coordinators Group is comprised of individuals who are plastic surgery residency program coordinators for ACGME/RRC-approved training programs. We host an annual meeting that runs synchronously with “The Meeting” where we discuss ERAS, virtual interviewing tips, ACGME updates, and more.


RB: How did you find out about this society and why did you choose to get involved?
I was sponsored by our Residency Program Director and became an active member of the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons (ACAPS) in 2012.  I chose to get involved in the council to expand my knowledge of plastic surgery education and to further my commitment to the specialty.  


RB: Tell me about the path that led you to becoming President.

CRS: I started my job at Stanford University as an Administrative Associate in General Surgery working primarily as faculty support.  During my time as an Admin, I pushed myself to learn other things besides the assigned responsibilities.  I volunteered to help and learn different types of jobs including faculty affairs.  This helped me broaden my knowledge in the field of academia.  It also helped me figure out a career path. 

After five years in General Surgery, I transferred to Plastic Surgery for growth opportunities.  I still had faculty support responsibilities, but I was able to do more and be part of the education and training team.  I assisted the former Program Coordinator with many aspects of the Residency Program.   

After my predecessor left—with the trust given to me by my Division Chief Dr. Chang—I was given the opportunity to take over the program.  I learned very fast how to swim with little guidance.  Looking ahead, I realized that I could and wanted to do more. I furthered my commitment to the specialty by joining and participating in the ACAPS councils and committees, which led me to run for the Presidency.


RB: How does one become President?

CRS: In 2021, I was elected president-elect and assumed office as president this past October for a one-year term. [RB2] I was nominated by the President at that time, and all the ACAPS coordinators voted.  I didn’t campaign, but all the candidates did make a speech. (I hate public speaking! Eeek!)


RB: What does the President do?

CRS: As the president of the ACAPS Program Coordinators, I will serve on the board and represent the coordinator’s voices, provide feedback on ACAPS changes/policies, and be able to vote on new policies and by-laws.  I am enthusiastic to advocate for the Plastic Surgery Residency Program, and I hope my many years of expertise will effect positive changes to our governing policies. 


RB: How do you manage your time? 

CRS: There is no guidebook to becoming a program coordinator.  It is a massive job with significant responsibilities. And then you have to juggle work with family life, kids’ activities, and school.  How do I do it? Lots of coffee and less sleep. Organization and understanding priorities help me manage daily operations and multiple projects.[RB3]  Family is a priority and I’ve made sure there is always time to spend with the kids.


RB: What advice do you have for a young admin or new residency coordinator who wants to be where you are one day? 

 CRS: I am very introverted, and I believe I derived the confidence to run for president from the skills and experience acquired throughout my years of service.  To be successful in this position, you need empathy.  I am passionate about helping people, and I think before you can help others, it’s necessary to understand an individual’s life situation.  Building relationships is also vital because it creates trust, security, and happiness.  Be kind, work hard, stay humble, and don’t forget the important people who helped you along the way.