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Global Surgery

In a world where the growing burden of surgical disease comprises a significant proportion of global morbidity and mortality, an estimated five billion people still lack equitable access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical and anesthesia care (Meara JG, Leather AJM, Hagander L, et al. Global Surgery 2030: Evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare, and economic development. Lancet. 2015; 6736(15):1-56). The UMass Chan Medical School Department of Surgery is committed to supporting and advocating for universal access to surgical care. Our strategy focuses on engagement and education, collaborative research and supporting sustainable care delivery through capacity building.

Engagement and Education
The Department of Surgery supports the engagement and education of our residents and faculty in the field of academic global surgery. Residents with an interest in the field are encouraged to participate in national and international organizations, committees and conferences dedicated to global surgery. Recent residents have also been supported in pursuing Master of Public Health degrees through the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, as described in our Academic Development Time page.

Collaborative global surgery research provides our residents with the opportunity to form multi-institutional partnerships, and the skills and experience to build a foundation for a meaningful career. Residents with this interest have the option to pursue a research period of two years between their PGY-2 and PGY-3 years (see our Academic Development Time page). Recent residents have opted to focus on global surgery during this time, with some pursuing positions at outside programs and some serving as the UMass Chan Medical School, Department of Surgery Global Surgery Research Fellow. This funded position has allowed past residents to develop large-scale projects such as implementing a multi-center trauma registry in India; serve in leadership roles on national and international committees dedicated to global surgery; and pursue advanced degrees such as a Master of Public Health.

The Bednarz Global Scholars Program in Surgery at the UMass Chan Medical School

Established by the Department of Surgery in 2016, the Bednarz Global Scholars Program in Surgery is a unique opportunity for residents to participate in the surgical care of patients internationally.

The Bednarz Endowment and Lectureship has been established in honor of the memory of Major Brian E. Bednarz, MD. In only a short time from his arrival in Worcester, Dr. Bednarz became an integral member of the community. As an attending surgeon he earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues both for his surgical skill and for his warmheartedness. This program, established in his name, is an opportunity to continue surgical education with a focus on the humanistic factors that form, define, and improve our approach in caring for our patients, colleagues, and communities.

The program enables research residents as well as PGY4 residents to attend an annual global surgery trip. In 2022, the program initiated an experience in Zambia, in partnership with the American College of Surgeons Operation Giving Back. Each year, up to two residents will be selected for a one-week, fully funded experience, made possible by the generous support of the Bednarz family endowment. 

Before traveling, residents will work with designated research, education, and clinical care teams made up of faculty, residents, and other staff from the Zambia collaboration. During this preparation time, the residents define their vision for the experience, incorporating the values of humanism, sustainability, and collaboration. There are ample opportunities to develop educational curricula, research workshops, longitudinal projects, and outreach activities for the trips. We hope these experiences help residents recognize the impact of their careers and lives.

From Worcester to Zambia: Resident Meets with International Collaborators

By Erin M. C. Scott, MD, MPH
Global Surgery Research Fellow, General Surgery Resident

Photo of Jennifer LaFemina, MD, FACS

Over the last two years, our Department of Surgery has been working in collaboration with the American College of Surgeons Operation Giving Back, and colleagues from the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa, to support surgical training and surgical care delivery in Lusaka, Zambia. As part of this multi-institutional collaboration, I’ve spent the last year leading a task force in designing and implementing a needs assessment for the initiative. This May, I was able to join two other faculty members from the Research focus group on a trip to Lusaka, to finally meet our Zambian colleagues in person. Throughout the week, our team met with various stakeholders and surgical faculty to brainstorm solutions to the gaps identified in our needs assessment, and we also conducted research methodology workshops for both residents and faculty. Most importantly, our teams spent time learning about each other, our respective experiences with training and medical academia, local healthcare cultures and attitudes, and the state of surgical care delivery both in Zambia and in the US. It was a phenomenal experience, and I look forward to seeing the evolution of our collaboration in the years to come!

(left photo) American College of Surgeons faculty (including Demetrius Litwin, MD, MBA, (3rd from right) meeting with University of Zambia faculty in the teaching hospital emergency department in Lusaka, Zambia.

(right photo) Erin Scott, MD, MPH (2nd from right) celebrating a successful week with University of Zambia surgical faculty in Lusaka, Zambia.