Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It is my distinguished honor to introduce myself to you as the 7th President of the Fellowship Council. My journey started in 1993, when I emigrated from Germany to the USA to take a position as one of the first fellows in the field of minimally invasive surgery. Having completed two previous general surgical residencies in Argentina and Germany, I was full of energy and excitement to be part of the “MIS revolution.“ Three years of MIS fellowship were followed by a third surgical residency and board certification. It took me 18 years of surgical training until I finally decided to settle and build my practice at Cleveland Clinic Florida, where I also started my own residency and fellowship programs. I was privileged to be amongst the founding members of the Fellowship Council in 1997, and in the last 17 years I have trained well over 100 clinical and research fellows in the fields of minimally invasive and bariatric surgery. I am starting my presidential message with this personal introduction in order for you to better understand how passionate I am about surgery, the Fellowship Council, and surgical education.
The development of sophisticated optoelectronic equipment and intelligent instruments in the 1980s revolutionized surgery and enabled surgeons to perform complex procedures by means of endoscopic approaches, decreasing the morbidity of the surgical wound and allowing our patients to enjoy better outcomes. Practicing and graduating surgeons were faced with a sudden paradigm shift in their surgical techniques and found themselves in desperate need for an organization that could help them develop guidelines for surgical education, accreditation, and a matching system. The Fellowship Council answered the challenge and ever since, the organization has experienced continuous growth. In 2015 the Fellowship Council represents over 160 training programs and more than 200 annually graduating fellows.
Since the Fellowship Council’s inception, our healthcare and surgical education systems have undergone significant modifications that have presented new challenges to the organization. Changes in surgical education resulted in new evaluation modalities and decreased training hours for graduating residents who were seeking further training via fellowship programs. In addition, as a result of the newly introduced healthcare reform, industry funding for surgical education is dissipating while concurrently, the expectation remains for surgeons to educate while they also deliver volume and value by improving outcomes and access and decreasing costs. To address these critical challenges, we are currently engaged in a dialogue with the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships and our industry partners to brainstorm new funding strategies. In addition, we are working closely with the American Board of Surgery to better understand how to further develop basic and advanced surgical training platforms.
I must take advantage of this opportunity to acknowledge those who helped me achieve this very important milestone in my career. To Bruce Schirmer, MD and Lee Swanstrom, MD I thank you for trusting me with this great responsibility and opportunity. To Edward H. Phillips, MD for opening the doors of this wonderful country and to Steven Wexner, MD for being such a phenomenal mentor and friend.
I am very much looking forward to serving as your 7th President and I am inviting you to please join me and participate in the continuing growth and education of our specialty.
Raul L. Rosenthal, MD, FACS, FASMBS
Chief of Staff, Cleveland Clinic Florida
Chairman, Department of General Surgery
Director, The Bariatric and Metabolic Institute
Professor of Surgery, Herbert Wertheim School of Medicine at FIU