International Scholarship Programs of the American College of Surgeons: Expansion of the Global Surgical Network
The American College of Surgeons has always promoted education and collaborations with other countries and their scientific organizations. The International Guest Scholarship program was established in 1968 to support the travel of foreign surgeons to medical Institutions in the USA and Canada. The program has grown substantially over time and now includes different categories of scholarships and surgeons. The objective of this article is to describe the experiences gained by the international scholars who visited US and Canadian institutions through these ACS programs.
In order to collect information regarding these scholarships from the surgeons who have already participated in the program, an Internet-based survey was e-mailed to alumni. The surveys were constructed to gather career information on former scholars and to analyze the perceived impact of these programs on their careers.
Among the international scholarships alumni, most are now Fellows of the American College of Surgeons. The majority of respondents maintained contact with their host surgeons in the USA or Canada; they began or continued research, surgical education and surgical quality improvement initiatives in their country of origin based upon their experiences as international scholars. Most of the alumni reported that the experience they had during the scholarship was inspiring, opened their minds and broadened their horizons.
The overall effect of ACS international scholarship program should be considered as positive, as 80–90% of respondent alumni consider their experience very helpful and feel that it provided them with opportunities that would not have been possible without it. It is incumbent upon the ACS to continue along this path by identifying funding and donation sources, as well as enriching the content and goals.
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