September 1, 2022
To meet the challenges posed by the critical global health issue of lack of access to surgical care, the American College of Surgeons has partnered with three academic health systems to develop a new Academic Global Surgery Fellowship to address surgical disparities in underserved populations.
The ACS Operation Giving Back (OGB) program, together with the University of Utah Center for Global Surgery in Salt Lake City, Program for Global Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, and Hawassa University College of Medicine and Health Sciences in Ethiopia, will commit their distinctive capabilities to launch and support the fellowship program.
“This fellowship program will provide the next generation of surgeons with the opportunity to directly engage in research and quality improvement work at one of our leading training hubs in Hawassa, Ethiopia,” said ACS OGB Director Girma Tefera, MD, FACS. “Fellows will conduct robust research in support of our long-term mission to reduce health disparities and improve the continuum of care for surgical patients.”
The fellowship program, which began this summer, will build upon the efforts of an existing training program established between the ACS OGB program and Hawassa University located in the east, central, and southern Africa regions. Since 2018, that program has focused on building surgical services, clinical care, quality improvement programs, and research at Hawassa University Hospital, a 480-bed referral hospital in Hawassa, Ethiopia, that serves a population of more than 18 million people.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the research workgroup for the “Hawassa Hub”—one of ACS OGB’s training programs consisting of Hawassa University faculty members and members of US consortia schools—organized virtual training activities and discussions on ways to improve surgical research in Hawassa. The Academic Global Surgery Fellowship program will accelerate all efforts by fostering interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborations centered on surgical training, research, and education.
Each year, fellows will be selected from either the University of Utah or VCU for a 1-year appointment. Fellows will facilitate research, conduct educational and quality improvement programs, disseminate results and data, create a mentoring relationship, and increase academic output at Hawassa University Hospital. To build lasting partnerships and produce impactful research, fellows will travel to Hawassa for 3 to 6 months over the course of the fellowship, and they also will be invited to participate in advocacy campaigns. Their research will be presented at related conferences and will be documented in a final year-end report.
Anteneh Gadisa, MD, FCS-ECSA, FACS, chief executive director, Hawassa University College of Medicine and Health Sciences, noted that the program will add meaningful depth to an already productive collaboration. “It will create an opportunity both for the fellow and Hawassa faculty to learn from each other and work on selected projects, thereby helping to bring the intended changes in the clinical, academic, and research activities at Hawassa University,” he said.
By understanding the challenges in surgical education and clinical care in Ethiopia and collectively developing, implementing, and analyzing actions, the program will “produce measurable and sustainable impact in healthcare,” added Edgar Bruck Rodas, MD, FACS, an associate professor in the division of acute care surgical services at VCU and director of the VCU Program for Global Surgery.
Sudha P. Jayaraman, MD, MSc, FACS, a professor of surgery and director of the University of Utah Center for Global Surgery, has witnessed firsthand how research and effective programming can help reduce global health disparities. Her work on trauma epidemiology and systems development in East Africa has focused on addressing disparities in trauma mortality. For Dr. Jayaraman, the fellowship program fills an acute need in reducing global health surgical disparities and offers fellows an important stepping stone in their careers as surgeons.
“We look forward to helping participants learn the fundamentals of surgical systems across resource settings, providing strong mentorship across institutions, and preparing them to develop impactful careers in academic global surgery,” she said.
For more information about the fellowship and related programs, visit the ACS Operation Giving Back web page at facs.org/ogb.