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Become a member and receive career-enhancing benefits

Our top priority is providing value to members. Your Member Services team is here to ensure you maximize your ACS member benefits, participate in College activities, and engage with your ACS colleagues. It's all here.

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Travel Report

ACS Leaders Participate in Kuwait Postgraduate Assembly in Surgery

March 19, 2024

ACS leaders traveled to Kuwait City in February to participate in the 19th Annual Kuwait Postgraduate Assembly in Surgery. While there, they also gave mock oral exams at the only medical school in Kuwait and visited the only dedicated children’s hospice in the Persian Gulf region. Among those leaders was Regent Kenneth W. Sharp, MD, FACS, who provided a travel report on the experience that left him impressed, inspired, and—at times—emotional:

The 19th Annual Kuwait Postgraduate Assembly in Surgery was held February 2–4 at the St. Regis Hotel in Kuwait City, the capital of Kuwait. The organizing sponsor was Mousa A. R. Khoursheed, MBChB, FACS (Hon.), and the Kuwait Surgical Society, with a welcoming address in addition from the Vice President of the Kuwait Chapter of the ACS. This Assembly has been an annual event in Kuwait since 2001, missing only the COVID years. The ACS was well represented in the speakers presenting at the meeting. Leaders, including Executive Director and CEO Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS, Secretary Sherry M. Wren, MD, FACS, and Regents Steven C. Stain, MD, FACS, and myself, spoke on Saturday, February 3. Additional Fellows of the ACS, including Peter Angelos, MD, PhD, FACS, Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS, David W. Easter, MD, FACS, Jean-Nicolas Vauthey, MD, FACS, and Rami Lutfi, MD, FACS, spoke during the conference. Speakers from 14 countries were present, so it was quite an international program! The attendance was nearly 200 attendees, predominately from the Gulf States.

The entire program on Friday, February 2, was an extensive discussion of bariatric surgery, focusing on current issues, problems, and emerging techniques in the Gulf States. The use of sleeve gastrectomy has become the procedure most used in the Gulf, just like in the US. The introduction of a new minimally invasive technique, endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, was discussed in detail. Several of us were accompanied on a tour of the Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice on Friday morning. This impressive facility is the only dedicated children’s hospice in the Gulf, and it was touching—and even heart wrenching—to hear the stories of the children, their families, and the tireless devotion of the staff to making the lives of these children as comfortable as possible in their final days. The CEO of the facility, Tala Al-Dabbous, PhD, is a truly inspirational leader who gave us a tour of the hospice, which has 10 inpatient beds and 12 cottages for families staying with the patients. The facility is quite remarkable in its size and amenities; the children even have their own full-size Ferris wheel! The Hospice serves more than 200 children throughout the Gulf States, mostly in outpatient situations. Interestingly, the population of patients with a cancer diagnosis is only 13%; most of the patients have incurable, and often undiagnosed, fatal genetic abnormalities. My impression after the tour was that “this is the best place in the world to be for my worst nightmare,” and I truly left the facility with a large lump in my throat.

Saturday brought the ACS faculty to the fore with sessions on general surgical issues such as perforated duodenal ulcers, common bile duct stone management, pancreatic surgery, and complex liver resections for hepatic neoplasms. The afternoon sessions centered on global surgical issues by Dr. Wren and Dr. Turner’s remarks on professionalism, quality, and the role of the ACS. The final sessions of the day were centered on surgical education, including a fascinating lecture by Abe Fingerhut, MD, FACS (Hon.), on artificial intelligence and medical writing. The day was capped with a private audience with the American Ambassador to Kuwait, Karen Hideko Sasahara, and the Minister of Health for Kuwait, Ahmad Abdulwahab Al-Awadhi, MD. Dr. Al-Awadhi and Ambassador Sasahara then delivered welcoming remarks to the attendees, emphasizing international cooperation in modern medicine and the spirit of continuing surgical education.

Sunday morning, February 4, brought another entertaining and illustrative experience. Seven of us were transported to the medical school (known as the Faculty of Medicine—the only Kuwaiti medical school) to administer mock oral board exams to eight chief residents in surgery in Kuwait. The examiners focused their questions on common surgical issues such as rectal cancer, acute cholecystitis, and hernias. There were five men and three women finishing their residencies, most of whom were going on to fellowships in breast surgery, acute care surgery, and gastrointestinal surgery. Each of us had a room that the residents rotated through for a 10-minute practice oral exam, and then we held a final feedback session for the group. There were certainly distinct differences in the emphasis in training in general surgery; there is little experience in endoscopy and a much different approach to critical care, which is largely done by intensivists, not general surgeons.

The final session on Sunday afternoon centered on endocrine surgery and was well attended, even though it was the last session. Presentations included topics on thyroid cancer, parathyroid disease, and minimally invasive surgery for thyroid surgery.

Sunday evening was capped off by a wonderful dinner at the home of Professor Khoursheed, at his home, a delightful end to a very hospitable and educational experience for all. The educational sessions were well attended, the question-and-answer sessions were preceptive, and the enthusiasm was excellent.

Kenneth W. Sharp, MD, FACS
ACS Regent