Kathryn Coyne, M.D., Megan Gornet, M.D.
After a two year hiatus, the Society of Reproductive Surgeons (SRS) and the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI) hosted an in-person Surgical Boot Camp at the MITIE Center in Houston, Texas on April 28th – 30th, 2022. Approximately 30 fellows from across the country participated in hands-on sessions and lectures led by faculty instructors and reproductive surgery experts including Course Chair, Dr. Mindy Christianson, SRS President, Dr. Kathleen Hwang, as well as Drs. Bala Bhagavath, Stephanie Estes, Rebecca Flyckt, Linnea Goodman, Zaraq Khan, Steven Lindheim, Ceana Nezhat, J. Preston Parry, John Petrozza, Samantha Pfiefer, Ranjith Ramasamy, and Divya Shah.
Dr. Christianson from Johns Hopkins, the Boot Camp Course Chair, felt the excitement was palpable from the first moments on day one. “It was so wonderful to have the Boot Camp in person this year after two years of the COVID pandemic…you could sense in the air how excited everyone was to be in person.”
Thanks to the much anticipated in-person experience, hands-on sessions included laparoscopic suturing, laparoscopic and robotic skills, hysteroscopy and microsurgery. In addition to using standard laparoscopic box-trainers, fellows had the unique opportunity to simulate their skills within specialized non-cadaveric models mimicking live tissue. As surgical opportunities and practice across fellowship programs may vary widely, the models provided an incredible opportunity to simulate procedures such as ovarian cystectomy, myomectomy, and oophoropexy. Lectures covered topics such as optimizing surgical efficiency and outcomes, role of robotics in reproductive surgery, managing challenging hysteroscopy, unusual Mullerian anomalies, surgical endometriosis and adenomyosis treatment, oophoropexy and ovarian tissue cryopreservation, as well as microsurgery and managing surgical complications. The business and financial aspects of REI and reproductive surgery were also reviewed, a topic that is too often overlooked, yet of incredible future importance. Perhaps most memorable for all in attendance, Dr. Ceana Nezhat recorded a critical, and necessarily striking, lecture titled “Complications in surgery and in life.” It served as an important reminder to all who watched why the Boot Camp remains so important, and that excellent surgical training and thoughtful practice are essential.
Over the three-day course, in addition to improving our surgical and procedural skills, we gained tremendous insights from faculty regarding clinical decision-making in pre-operative, peri-operative, and post-operative reproductive care. On top of these tangible experiences, fellows had the opportunity to network with experts in reproductive surgery and to discuss future goals and career planning. It was refreshing to see that a surgical practice can be found within an REI career whether it is in an academic or private practice setting as we are soon to begin our careers.
Several Boot Camp attendee fellows earned awards for their surgical skills, including Drs. Pietro Bortoletto, Megan Gornet, and Rachel Mandelbaum for Outstanding Laparoscopy; Dr. Michael Neblett for Outstanding Robotic Surgery; Dr. Carleigh Nesbit for Outstanding Microsurgery; and Dr. David Huang for Outstanding Hysteroscopy.
Four fellows in the inaugural class of SRS Surgical Scholars Track (SST) were able to participate in this years Boot Camp, which supports the goals of serving as reproductive surgeons in their future practices. The SST program is an extracurricular two-year track that is embedded in the elective time in high surgical volume programs within the fellowship curriculum, that includes committed surgical-based research and lectures and journal club on a monthly basis. Kudos to all the SST scholars including Drs. Karissa Hammer (Massachusetts General Hospital), Tori Fritz (Massachusetts General Hospital), Katie Coyne (University Hospitals), Rebecca Chung (University Hospitals), Michael Neblett (Mayo Clinic), and Megan Gornet (Johns Hopkins). Drs. Coyne, Fitz, Gornet, and Neblett all imparted meaningful learning experiences and encouraged REI fellows to discuss with their program directors to consider joining.
Faculty instructor Dr. Rebecca Flyckt from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center reflected that the Boot Camp was a “fantastic couple of days with talented faculty and engaged learners.” All the faculty left Houston with a sense of encouragement, and perhaps most tellingly, that “the future of REI is bright.”