I was honored and excited to attend the 2012 American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress, in Chicago, IL, as the Nizar N. Oweida, MD, FACS, Scholar. I was able to participate in many skills and didactic Postgraduate Courses otherwise unavailable to me. The Clinical Congress gave me opportunities to connect with other rural surgeons from the New England area and throughout the country. I also was able to catch up with my residency program colleagues and attendings.
The first Postgraduate Course that I attended took place on the day I arrived, Saturday, September 29. I participated in the Challenging Surgical Emergencies Postgraduate Course, which provided an overview of difficult cases that often present themselves in the middle of the night. As a rural surgeon, I found it extremely useful to see how different situations could be managed with minimal support systems in place and which situations are best handled by immediate transfer to a tertiary care facility.
On Sunday I took part in a skills course that included a half-day lecture and a half-day hands-on lab. The course, Flexible Endoscopy for General Surgeons, enhanced my technical skills for endoscopies, which are frequent in my rural surgery practice. Tips for new techniques and different modalities of polyp removal were informative and helpful. It was wonderful to be able to meet the specialists at the hands-on lab and to interact with colleagues performing endoscopic techniques and maneuvers. Trying to remove all the different types of foreign bodies from the lab stomach was very entertaining.
On Monday I continued my education with a daylong Postgraduate Course on Benign Anorectal Disorders. Again, with no colorectal specialist in our rural area, we do see a myriad of issues involving the anal-rectal region. Being able to evaluate and determine comprehensive treatment options for these patients without having to send them to a tertiary facility to see a specialist is very valuable. I also appreciated the discussion, which included a number of questions to the panelists on how rural general surgeons handle benign anorectal disorders.
I had time to participate in a Meet the Expert Luncheon, which covered the subject of difficult ostomies. The informal luncheon actually turned into a lively discussion regarding such issues as ostomy placement, adequate length of the ostomy, which type of ostomy to place in different situations, and parastomal hernias.
On Tuesday, October 2, I attended a half-day lecture on Laparoscopic Colectomy. Every type of colectomy available was evaluated during a discussion of techniques for a laparoscopic and/or hands-on approach. The specialists discussed different approaches that could be used and varied ways to address port placement. This was a good review for me as I continue to offer laparoscopic colectomy in my rural practice. After this morning session, I viewed some of the scientific exhibits, and then I was off to the rural surgery forum where I was presented with the Oweida Scholarship. During this event, I made connections with other rural surgeons, exchanged information, and heard stories of other rural surgeons’ struggles and successes.
Finally, on Wednesday, October 3, I wrapped up my experience at the ACS Clinical Congress by attending other panel sessions. My experience was enhanced by a sightseeing trip in Chicago, to the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the U.S.; Cloud Gate (“The Bean”) in the city’s Millenium Park; and Navy Pier. My husband and I enjoyed dining at some wonderful Chicago restaurants, from pizza parlors to fine steakhouses. We also snuck in a night at the Second City Comedy Club.
Clinical Congress was a wonderful educational experience, an amazing opportunity to socialize and network, and a chance to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Chicago. I want to thank the Scholarship Committee and Mrs. Margaret (Nizer) Oweida for this wonderful opportunity. I gained a large amount of useful information, and I will incorporate these new skills into my rural surgery practice at Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, NH. In this way, being the Oweida Scholar benefitted not only me, but also the colleagues and patients with whom I can share this wealth of information.