Winter 2015 | E-mail:

Ring In The New Year With The FSF

Table of Contents

President's Message
FSF Generations: Fellowships Continue To Transform
FSF Fellow Testimonial: From Residency to Fellowship
Fellows Talk Fellowships: Did My Fellowship Make An Impact?
Recognizing Partners
The Generations Campaign

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President's Message

Funding Fellowships – Who is Responsible?

The mission of the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships (FSF) is to provide essential financial support for sustaining non-ACGME accredited fellowships. The FSF acknowledges and thanks all who donated to the FSF in 2014. More than ever before, the FSF has received broad-based support. In addition to support from industry, more individuals and more societies donated to the FSF in 2014 than ever before. Specifically, we want to express our gratitude to the SAGES, ASMBS, ASCRS, and the AHPBA for their contributions to the funding of these fellowships in 2014. These donations make a strong statement about the importance of the fellowships.  In addition, a special thanks goes to the Fellowship Council for advocating on our behalf.

Funding of these fellowships is at a crossroads, despite the broad-based support in 2014. For economic and political reasons, some of the large donors from industry have significantly reduced support for future years. As previously disclosed, support for academic year 15/16 was significantly less than in previous years, and now that support has been further reduced for academic year 16/17. Our industry partners continue to work in a volatile and uncertain economic environment, and the level of support from industry in the future is unclear.

Despite that, the need for fellowship training is clear. More than 80% of graduating general surgery chief residents pursue fellowship training. In some cases the additional training is to meet a career goal, in other cases the fellowship training simply enables the surgeon to complete her skill set and develop mastery in her clinical areas of interest. The Fellowship Council oversees more than 180 non-ACGME accredited fellowships that provide advanced surgical training in Minimally Invasive Surgery, Bariatric Surgery, Flexible Endoscopy, Colorectal Surgery, HPB Surgery, and Thoracic Surgery. Most of these fellowships seek funding from the FSF, which has developed and implemented objective, arms-length, merit-based distribution of the available funding.

Going forward, funding for these fellowships requires the support of the entire surgical community. Additional donors and additional methods for funding these fellowships are urgently required.


Dennis Fowler, MD, MPH
Foundation for Surgical Fellowships


Help continue our mission by joining THE GENERATIONS CAMPAIGN and make a donation today! 

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FSF Generations: Fellowships Continue To Transform
FSF Generations: Ensuring That Future Physicians Receive The Same Opportunities
Written by Michele Riordon, MD, FRCSC
Michele Riordon, MDDr. Michele Riordon is the newest member to join the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships Board of Directors. Dr. Riordon is the first board member who is a former fellow in a program funded by the FSF. Her fellowship experience demonstrates the value of postgraduate surgical training opportunities supported by the Foundation. Over the past two years, she has been working at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre just North of Toronto, Canada to develop a minimally invasive surgery program. Dr. Riordon joins a prestigious list of physicians who make up the board of directors at the FSF. Board President Dennis Fowler, MD said “Year after year, I’m astounded at the level of experience and knowledge we’re able to access with our board. We have a strong leadership foundation in place and we couldn’t be more pleased with the addition of Dr. Riordon to our board. Each of our individual board member’s deep professional background and passionate commitment to advanced surgical education has brought insightful perspectives to our board.”  Dr. Riordon hopes to play a pivotal role in helping to provide future surgeons just starting out on their career path with the same opportunities that were given to her. ”Until graduating residents are comfortable with providing complex surgery using minimally invasive techniques, there will be a role for my involvement and FSF funded fellowships.”
Dr. Riordon, a 2011 Gold Star Award recipient for excellence in teaching medical students, completed her MIS/Bariatric fellowship at Weill Cornell Medical College – The Methodist Hospital in Houston under the guidance of Dr. Patrick Reardon. Her fellowship experience prepared her to embark on her current tasks of developing a MIS program, an enhanced recovery program and initiate department wide morbidity and mortality rounds, while also continuing to perform procedures and teach residents. When asked what inspires her as a surgeon she said, “I’m committed to minimizing the effects of surgery and getting patients back to enjoying their life as soon as possible. All the extra committees that I’m involved with are to improve patient care and patient experience.”
In her spare time, Dr. Riordon is a bit of an adrenaline junkie with a passion for outdoor activities such as water and downhill skiing. She especially enjoys back-country skiing, leaving the resorts and chairlifts behind. She also loves to travel and is plannning a trip to Canada's Yukon Territory and to the Galapagos Islands.
The Foundation for Surgical Fellowships looks forward to Dr. Riordon’s involvement, especially as she brings a unique perspective to help the Foundation provide and sustain post-residency fellowships for future fellows to come.
FSF Generations: The Most Important Year Of My Career
Written by Dennis Fowler, MD, MPH
 AlthoughDennis Fowler, MD I have had a long career as a surgeon, the most important year in my entire career was my fellowship.  My training as a fellow enabled most of what followed.  In 1979, against the recommendations of numerous mentors in my residency, I chose to pursue a fellowship in “Surgical Endoscopy”.  This was no small decision, because it meant that I would not be in the operating room as a surgeon for the first year after completing my chief resident year.  Like every graduating chief resident, I wanted to operate and take care of patients.  However, my fellowship year was focused on upper GI endoscopy, colonoscopy, ERCP, and diagnostic laparoscopy.  The program was at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where, because he was active as an endoscopist, even my mentor was questioned about his commitment to surgery.
The fellowship year was transformative in several ways.  First, I learned endoscopic techniques that gave me skills most surgeons at the time did not have.  I completed hundreds of each type of endoscopy during that year and I also learned the techniques of diagnostic laparoscopy 10 years or more before therapeutic laparoscopy became routinely possible (who knew).  Second, it gave me better insight into the diseases of the GI tract.  Third, I was immersed in a focused learning environment for a significant but finite period of time.  My only responsibility was to learn endoscopy and staff resident endoscopy cases for the ward service.  Fourth, I befriended my mentor at a level not usually achievable during the shorter rotations during residency.
In mid-career I became a program director for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) fellowships.  Between 1998 and 2008, I was program director for 15 MIS fellows in Pittsburgh and New York.  In almost every case, I developed a close relationship with the individual.  In that role, it was very satisfying to enable great people to achieve their potential by sharing patient care every day and by providing an immersive learning environment.  Many have advanced to positions of leadership in fine institutions, in part because of the training they received during fellowship.  To this day, they are among my best friends.
As the structure of surgical education evolves, the role of fellowship training should not be underestimated.  Whether it is a focused year near the end of resident training or whether it is a separate program, the year can transform the career of the fellow and provide enormous life-long satisfaction to the mentors.  Funding for the non-ACGME accredited fellowships is being significantly reduced and fellowships are at risk.  Please join us in supporting the mission of the FSF to sustain fellowship training.

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FSF Fellow Testimonial: From Residency to Fellowship

Written by Caitlin Halbert, MD
Caitlin Halbert, MDDeciding to pursue an MIS/Bariatric fellowship was certainly not easy for me.  While professionally, it seemed an obvious choice, I was leaving my husband and family and moving states away for a year.  Within days of coming to Stony Brook University in New York, I realize that my experience will be well worth the sacrifice.
The transition to fellowship was infinitely easier than going from medical school to internship.  I was warmly welcomed and quickly integrated into the Stony Brook Bariatric team. The residents, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and administrative staff have already become my new family, united in the care of a grateful patient population.
As the weeks pass by, I recognize that this is much different than residency.  I am studying the art of bariatric and advanced MIS surgery.  I realize that despite having been exposed to a great deal of bariatric surgery in residency, I am learning something new every day about the variations within the procedures and new innovative techniques.
Having the opportunity to train at Stony Brook University with two remarkable role models, Dr. Pryor and Dr. Telem, is humbling.  My education extends beyond the operating room, learning about how to build a practice and maintain a fellowship program, and even balance a busy career with a personal life.   I am very thankful to the Foundation of Surgical Fellowships for providing such an amazing opportunity to enrich my career.

Fellows Talk Fellowships: Did My Fellowship Make An Impact?

  1. "The interaction and experience that I received instilled in me confidence in my skill set and clinical skills. I was blessed to work with great surgeons and mentors."
    -Former MIS Fellow from Amarillo, TX.
  2. "My entire surgical career will be based on MIS procedures."
    -Former MIS Bariatric Robotic Fellow from Atlanta, GA.
  3. "I cannot say enough good things about the training I received. Worth it every minute!"
    -Former Bariatric Fellow from Stamford, CT.
  4. "The learning curve during fellowship was much steeper than during residency. Fellowship allowed me to develop skills that I wouldn't otherwise have today. My current career is defined by MIS and the fellowship training I received. Fellowship also helped me to advance the academic side of my career."
    -Former MIS Bariatric Fellow, Dallas, TX.
  5. "My fellowship was in advanced foregut MIS and HPB. I'm now finishing my last years of residency. It has made me much more skilled inside and outside of the operating room. It has opened opportunities for work down the road."
    -Former HPB Fellow from Tampa, FL.
  6. "Fellowship strengthened my skills which were inadequate following residency. I was able to introduce new procedures in several hospitals"
    -Former Flexible Endoscopy Fellow from Great Falls, MT.
  7. "The fellowship included both MIS and open procedures, including thoracic and esophageal work. This allowed me to be more 'polished' prior to starting a job."
    -Former Thoracic Fellow from Tulsa, OK.

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Recognizing Partners

Recognizing Partners: ASMBS

The American Society of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery (ASMBS) is the steward of care for obesity by creating awareness, improving access, supporting critical research, and educating medical, surgical and allied healthcare professionals who take care of severely obese patients. As a result of the ongoing efforts, bariatric surgery has evolved to become one of the most popular and safest surgical procedures performed in the USA. In conjunction with the American College of Surgeons and the Fellowship Council, the ASMBS has implemented strict accreditation and certification guidelines to ensure the at proper training is delivered to those surgeons who will perform bariatric surgery. The Foundation for Surgical Fellowships (FSF) was created in an effort to secure funding that can support this surgical training. Though a blinded and peer review application process, the FSF has distributed funds to qualified institutions based on criteria of excellence. Since its inception, the FSF has been responsible for supporting the fellowship training of many Bariatric surgeons. The ASMBS is thankful to the FSF and it board members for their role in helping ASMBS maintain bariatric surgical training and ensure the best outcome in the care of severely obese patients.
Recognizing Partners: SAGES
Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) role in the training of fellows is integral to both The Fellowship Council and the establishment of the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships. From the beginning of this important initiative for post-graduate training it has been our role to assure the continuation of both organizations by helping to secure the resources needed to keep them healthy.
Recognizing Partners: ASCRS
The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is the premier society for colon and rectal surgeons and other surgeons dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and treatment of patients affected by colon and rectal disease. The ASCRS is dedicated to assuring high quality patient care by advancing the science through research and education. We are proud to partner with the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships in initiatives supporting the vision of the surgical community.
Recently there has been a vastly increased usage of minimally invasive surgery in the field of colon and rectal surgery. With the frequency with colorectal cancer being the third most common malignancy, with the pervasive incidence of diverticulitis, and with the highly complex management of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, surgical fellowships as well as colon and rectal surgical residency has become extremely important. In addition, the use of robotic surgery in rectal cancer has vastly increased recently.
The ASCRS is very much involved in this training effort, and therefore is supportive of the efforts of the Foundation for Surgical Fellowships. The ASCRS’s commitment to supporting fellowships funded by the Foundation helps move the surgical community forward realizing the vision of a surgical community that is better educated with the ultimate goal of improving patient care.

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by contributing to the
Foundation for Surgical Fellowships
Your gift will help ensure that tomorrow’s generations of surgeons have the training they need and that future generations of patients will have access to the care they deserve.
The demand for advanced surgical training grows with each generation of progress. Sustaining these fellowships is the only answer to this demand.
Tomorrow’s patient and physicians are depending on you. Please give, and give generously.
Visit the FSF website to make your tax deductable donation.
Checks can also be made out to the FSF and mailed to
11300 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 600, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Celebrating the Generosity of FSF Donors


2014 Honor Roll of Donors


Platinum Benefactors
 CovidienEthicon US, LLC 


Silver Benefactors

Applied Medical
Intuitive Surgical
KARL-STORZ Endoscopy-America, Inc.
Olympus America
Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES)
SAGES Foundation
Pon Satitpunwaycha
Titus Duncan

Ravi S. Chari
Eugene Cho
Edward Felix
Dennis Fowler
Muhammad Jawad
Anthony Senagore
Bruce Schirmer
Greg Stiegmann
Bruce G. Wolff
Ajay Upadhyay

Maurice Arregui
Michael Brunt
James Bittner
Ibrahim Daoud
Kenneth Forde
James Luketich
Rebecca Minter
Michele Riordon
Harvey Sugerman
Morris Franklin, Jr.
Alice Wei 
Ralph Aye
Elizabeth & Thomas D’Amico
Marcelo Hinojosa
Moises Jacobs
J. Patrick O’Leary
Andrew Resnick
Donald Risucci
Richard Satava
Steven Wexner

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