AUA 2023: International Experiences in Residency and Beyond

( The 2023 American Urological Association Residents’ Forum included a panel with leaders in international surgery within urology, sharing their experiences integrating this unique global pursuit into their careers. Panelists included the following leaders: Stephanie Kielb, MD from Northwestern University, Suzette Sutherland, MD from the University of Washington, Chloe Peters, MD from University of Washington, Kurt McCammon, MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School and Aseem Shukla, MD from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The panel started with leaders sharing the various organizations that they volunteer with, including International Volunteers in Urology (IVUmed) and specific partner hospitals internationally, such as Civil Hospital in Gujarat, India. The panelists stressed the importance of high quality support and reliable boots on the ground for coordination with local clinicians to help optimize the global surgery experience for urologists, as well as patients who obtain care through these programs.

Dr. Sutherland shared advice for residents who are interested in international surgical work – she stated that there is no ideal time to make your first trip, but starting early will help establish a track record allowing residents to build support for this work into their eventual attending careers. The panelists stressed that their experiences reinforced the often-wasteful habits of American surgery, and appreciated the creativity and flexibility required to provide excellent patient care in often resource-strained areas.

Dr. McCammon shared that his international work helped to re-engage his passion and love for medical care, given the lack of often burdensome requirements such as electronic medical record documentation. He added that this work has also improved his surgical performance. Often rare entities, such as pelvic fracture urethral injuries, are seen in higher volume. Dr. Kielb agreed, emphasizing how her trips leave her feeling re-energized.

Dr. Shukla emphasized the need for close follow-up and tracking of surgical results, as opposed to just traveling for operations. Partnering with local institutions, measuring outcomes for improvement, and publishing on the longitudinal experience allows you to build a career as a global medicine surgeon. However, all panelists underscored the need to contribute and teach the home clinicians. After her first international trip, Dr. Peters explained that she appreciated the need for building sustainable, educational workshops to train local surgeons on surgical and clinical techniques to allow for continued care outside of specific medical trips. She cited language barriers as a major challenge in this endeavor, and Dr. McCammon agreed. He added that teaching residents is important, but training mentors is even more essential since they will carry on those lessons to future generations.

Presented by:

  • Stephanie Kielb, MD, Northwestern University
  • Suzette Sutherland, MD, University of Washington
  • Chloe Peters, MD, University of Washington
  • Christopher Corbett, MD, MS, University of Minnesota
  • Kurt McCammon, MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Aseem Shukla, MD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Written by: Ruchika Talwar, MD, Urologic Oncology Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, during the 2023 American Urological Association (AUA) Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 27 – May 1, 2023