SSO’s Observerships and International Career Development Exchange Programs are highly-regarded opportunities for SSO members 45 years of age or less. Select SSO international partner societies offer one to two-week Observership programs where an SSO member can travel to an international destination to attend the partner Society’s Congress and observe procedures at a renowned institution. Most recently, Shaila Merchant, MD traveled to South Korea as the Korean Society of Surgical Oncology Observership Recipient and Campbell Roxburgh, MBChB recently traveled to Japan as the Japanese Society of Gastroenterological Surgery Observership recipient.
SSO’s International Career Development Exchange Program is now in its sixth year. Nine awardees were welcomed at SSO 2019 and then traveled to US institutions for a week where their local mentor arranged for them to observe surgical procedures and learn about various US systems and processes. Gabrielle van Ramshorst, MD, PhD of Glasgow Royal Infirmary Hospital and Glasgow University in Scotland, and Irfan Ul Islam Nasir, MBBS, of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Lahore, Pakistan, shared their memorable experiences and observations of SSO 2019.
Dr. van Ramshorst and Dr. Nasir were both impressed by the high caliber of data presented during SSO 2019. Dr. van Ramshorst stated, “It was striking to me that there were so many female presenting surgeons. This, to me, is a sign that SSO is ambitious and strives for inclusiveness, which made me feel welcome and passionate to contribute to the success of future SSO meetings.” Dr. Nasir said, “The Human Library was a new concept for me and my human librarian was George Chang, MD. The interaction that I had with him was phenomenal.”
After attending SSO 2019, Dr. van Ramshorst visited Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and met with her mentor J. Joshua Smith, MD. She observed robotic and open low anterior resections, as well as HIPEC and EPIC surgeries. She also had substantive conversations with the MSKCC team about the multidisciplinary approach for gynecologic oncology. The knowledge she received helped her submit an application for the NHS Cancer Innovation Challenge, which was subsequently awarded to her institution.
Dr. Nasir traveled to Emory University in Atlanta and worked with mentor Glen Balch, MD as well as other Emory surgical oncologists. Dr. Nasir observed several procedures including TAMIS for rectal polyps and cyto-reduction with HIPEC for colorectal peritoneal disease. Dr. Nasir said, “Overall my experience was phenomenal. The value of the program for young surgeons is exceptional in all stages of their careers, especially education and research.”