In 2011, the Emory Department of Surgery established its Global Surgery Program — one of the first American Board of Surgery-approved international surgical training experiences — at Soddo Christian Hospital in Soddo, Wolaita, Ethiopia. The facility is located in the southern part of the country, a region where there is limited healthcare available for a population of more than three-million people. In addition to providing medical services, the hospital partners with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) as one of nine PAACS academic centers that train national doctors over a five year surgical residency program. To address the trend of Ethiopian residents training in international programs and not returning to their homeland following graduation, PAACS stipulates that graduating residents must agree to practice in-country for five years.
Emory Department of Surgery faculty member Jonathan Pollock, MD, was the Global Surgery Program's founding program director and managed it on-site in Ethiopia for nearly five years. Upon his return to Emory's stateside Atlanta campus in 2016, the Soddo Hospital-location has gone on short-term hiatus until a new program director is appointed and establishes their practice in Ethiopia.
Upon resumption, the program will return to accepting two general surgery residents per year at either the PGY3 or PGY4 level to do a six week rotation at Soddo Hospital. Residents who pursue this elective option will find an exceptional clinical experience and stimulating research prospects in such areas as outcomes, public health, resource-poor surgical environments, and advanced and unusual disease states.
In addition to the program in Ethiopia, Emory Surgery general surgery residents can participate in the Emory Haiti Alliance's annual surgical trips to Haiti's Central Plateau, the poorest and most medically underserved region in the country. The alliance is focused on integrating medical education with humanitarian objectives. In addition to surgery residents, the alliance's teams include Emory anesthesiology, general surgery, and urology faculty; medical students; and mid-level practitioners. While resident involvement in this outreach effort is not for credit, the Emory Haiti Alliance trips are highly rewarding and inspiring.