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Anthony Feghali Shares His Experiences in Surgical Education with ACS Italy Chapter

From left to right: Dr. Guiseppe Nigri (host from Sapienza University of Rome), Dr. Doug Smink (program director of surgery at Brigham), Dr. Anthony Feghali (resident at SUNY Upstate).  Welcome dinner to the Italian Congress of Surgeons at Villa Miani Rome.

From left to right: Dr. Guiseppe Nigri (host from Sapienza University of Rome), Dr. Anthony Feghali (resident at SUNY Upstate).  Certificate received after grand rounds at Sapienza University of Rome.

In September 2016, I had the honor of representing the American College of Surgeons (ACS) at the Italy ACS Chapter meeting. I was invited to Rome on behalf of the RAS-ACS to present on surgical education, specifically robotic surgery training in residency. Making the experience more special was the fact I was in the country where the first robot, the “humanoid,” was invented by Leonardo Da Vinici over 500 years ago.

My journey to Rome involved cancelled flights, an overnight stay in Washington, DC, a bus ride to Baltimore, a return to New York, and the changing of air carriers. Fortunately, I arrived at 6:00 am on the day I was to present and headed straight to the Italian Congress of Surgery meeting. I toured the various exhibits and interacted with numerous Italian surgeons. That afternoon I delivered my presentation, Evolving Education Models in Surgical Training: Training Residents in Robotic Surgery, to the Italian ACS committee. I spoke about the curriculum that we have set up at SUNY Upstate Medical University and how we train, evaluate, and improve residents within robotic surgery. The presentation was well received and I was invited to present at grand rounds with Dr. Doug Smink (Program Director of Bingham) at Sapienza University of Rome. This presentation was attended by the medical students, residents, and department of surgery faculty. The university does not have a robotic system, but they are hoping to purchase one for resident training. Both the faculty and residents were enthusiastic about this potential purchase and they asked me many questions.

From left to right: Dr. Guiseppe Nigri (host from Sapienza University of Rome), Dr. Doug Smink (program director of surgery at Brigham), Dr. Anthony Feghali (resident at SUNY Upstate).  Awarded certificates by the Italian Chapter of the ACS after grand rounds at Sapienza University of Rome.

While in Rome, I was also invited to attend the Italian Congress of Surgeons welcome dinner. It was held at Villa Miani Rome, a neoclassical mansion built in 1837, overlooking the Vatican and the dome of St. Peter. I had the opportunity to meet many Italian surgeons and learn about their experiences and training. One of the surgeons I befriended is Dr. Augusto Veneziani, a faculty member at the Catholic University of Rome. When I told him that I am originally Lebanese, he talked about the time he spent in Beirut during the Civil War, working in an Italian Hospital. It was amazing to be half way around the world creating unique connections. I am sure we will stay in touch and hope to visit him in the near future.

I am grateful to the ACS for allowing me this opportunity. Sharing my U.S. experience and learning from the Italians has influenced my view of surgery. The medical world is small and the community of surgeons even smaller. I hope to build on this experience and continue to help bridge the international community of surgeons. The days I spent in Italy and connections I made will definitely contribute to my desire to better care for my patients and to continue seeking knowledge from surgeons outside of America.

Anthony Feghali, MD, is a chief resident in the department of surgery at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY.