Global Surgery Initiative at UVA

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Former resident Kate Graw with visiting Rwandan resident Albert Nzayisenga

Young physicians are increasingly eager to gain international experience and to develop an expanded worldview during their training.  Over 30% of graduating medical students have had an international experience, and international electives have been shown to meet all of the ACGME core competencies.  Though electronic communications, peer-reviewed journals, and international meetings have served to increasingly familiarize surgical residents with practices and surgical outcomes in other nations, a wide discrepancy still exists between published, relatively state-of-the-art outcomes and practices and the actual administration of surgical care in many countries.  Similarly, significant differences in training experiences that exist in other countries are usually not known by many of today’s surgical residents.  These issues suggest a role for an educational program that would place an emphasis on obtaining some degree of exposure and expertise in an area of international surgical practice or training.

Several of our UVA residents have been involved in global surgery efforts, and a few of our international colleagues have been to visit us here at UVA.  Here’s a little about them.  Click on their names to link to their blogs!  And don’t forget to check out details about our new Global Health Leadership Track in Surgery

Meet our new GHLT Residents, Allie and Adriana!

Dr. Allison Martin

Version 2Dr. Allison Martin is currently a PGY-3 general surgery resident at the University of Virginia. She began her training as a Biochemistry and Psychology major at the University of Louisville and went on to purse an MD from Vanderbilt University, where she also earned the Certificate in Global Health due in part to work on an HIV educational program in Monrovia, Liberia. As a third year medical student, she was awarded a Zuckerman Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School and completed an MPH at the Harvard School of Public Health. Following this experience, she spent six weeks examining critical care capacity at a hospital in Arusha, Tanzania. As a current general surgery resident at the University of Virginia, she continues to pursue various research interests and is an inaugural member of the Global Health Leadership Track in Surgery.

Allie is currently a first year surgical oncology fellow at UVA. Her research focus is health services research in cancer, particularly gastric cancer care disparities among African Americans. She was recently awarded an NIH Fogarty Global Health Fellowship to study gastric cancer epidemiology and treatment in Rwanda. She will spend her fellowship year in Kigali under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Riviello and Dr. Ainhoa Costas. Her research will focus on gastric cancer in adults of African descent: a comparison of Rwandans and African-Americans.


Dr. Adriana Ramirez

Photo BS 2


Adriana is a general surgery resident at the University of Virginia. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow under the mentorship of Dr. R Scott Jones and a member of the Global Health Leadership Track. She immigrated to the United States from Venezuela in 1994. Her personal experience witnessing a lack of access to medical care, disparities in medical education, and technological disparities drove her to pursue a career in healthcare. She graduated from Emory University with degrees in Anthropology and Biology and obtained her medical degree at the Medical University of South Carolina. Her research interests are in health services- understanding quality measurements, healthcare costs, and surgical value-, and surgical education. 




Dr. Robin Petroze

Robin with the NUR students who worked on the SOSAS study

Robin with the NUR students who worked on the SOSAS study

Robin is currently a chief resident in General Surgery at the University of Virginia.  During her surgical residency, she spent two years living in Rwanda as a Fogarty International Clinical Research Fellow and a research fellow at the University of Rwanda. She investigated the epidemiology of surgical disease at the district hospital and community level, barriers to access to care, and the epidemiology, outcomes, and transfer patterns of injuries. This included two nationwide surveys and starting a collaborative trauma registry at the university teaching hospitals. She also spent considerable time advocating for increased resources for surgical education and developing collaborative international education programs, including those using telemedicine. Following her two years in Rwanda, Robin completed a Masters in Public Health at the University of Virginia. She is the recipient of the 2012 American College of Surgeons/Pfizer Surgical Volunteerism Award as a Resident and the 2015 Association of Women Surgeons Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Resident Award. She serves as an associate editor for the Global Paediatric Surgery Network.

Robin said this about the overall experience:

“During my time in Rwanda, I was taken in by the Department of Surgery and really  made to feel part of the small but extraordinarily active Rwandan surgical community.  Interacting with the Rwandan surgeons, residents, students, public health experts and public health and surgical professionals from around the world really confirms that we live in a global community, and we have so much to learn from each other.  I look forward to a career in global surgery that focuses on building these relationships.”


Several of our residents have taken time to do an elective in Rwanda. Here are just a few of them:

Dr. Amber Shada

Amber makes friends with a group of Rwandan children before climbing a mountain . . .

Amber makes friends with a group of Rwandan children before climbing a mountain . . .

Amber spent a month in Rwanda during her research time. She said this about her first experience in medical care abroad:

“My time in Rwanda was a truly eye-opening experience. I spent most of my time in Kigali at Centre Hospitalier  Universitaire de Kigali, working alongside the surgery residents and attendings there. I was able to spend time at their morning conferences, in the operating theatre, and in the inpatient setting. I met some really great physicians, and learned a great deal about effective patient care in a setting of limited resources. Rwanda has universal health care, which astonished me but demonstrates how progressive their health care system is, despite being in its infancy. All in all, both the similarities and differences between surgical care in Rwanda and the US really surprised me. I’m grateful UVa allowed me time to have this experience, and know I will be involved in global surgery in some form in the future.”


Dr. Matthew McLeod

Matt operates with Dr. Georges at CHUK.

Matthew operates with Dr. Georges at CHUK.

Matthew spent 3 weeks in Kigali in January 2012 as part of his field placement for his Masters in Public Health degree.  He worked with the head of surgery at the National University of Rwanda to develop a protocol to evaluate outcomes in re-laparotomy patients.


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