people with economic and medical need. This level
of screening and targeting is for our surgical patients.
All patients are welcome, however, as we have an open
and free clinic staffed by primary care professionals.
We almost always identify candidates for surgery here
The other international volunteer program you
work with is the UTHSCGSI. What was the impetus
for starting this program?
The UTHSCGSI is a developing division within the
department of surgery with the purpose of better
organizing, supporting, and developing opportunities for work and training in low- and middle-income
countries (LMICs). The initiative sprang from a discussion between myself and Martin Fleming, MD,
FACS, chief, division of surgical oncology, UT. During
a physician leadership class, in the fall of 2015, I told
Dr. Fleming that my family was looking to perform
more long-term work in the Philippines, possibly by
forming a mission hospital. For the past year, we have
engaged with new and old partners alike, including
academic partners, to establish a mission hospital for
the purpose of developing a surgical system of care
for low-income patients around the world. It was out
of this conversation that we began to learn about the
level of interest among faculty, residents, and students
to provide care in LMICs.
To learn more about this interest in working in
LMICs, we deployed a survey during a four-month
period of time. Our survey was limited to UT Memphis
medical students, surgical residents, and surgical fac-
ulty. Surgical departments that were a part of the
survey included the following: EN T, general surgery,
pediatric surgery, pediatric thoracic, and urology.
These departments represent faculty members who
expressed an interest in participating in developing
the vision of this institute. A total of 64 medical stu-
dents, 40 faculty members, and 23 surgical residents
responded to the survey for a total of 127 respondents.
From this study, we learned that faculty respondents engage in a combined total of 58. 5 weeks of
surgical work in LMICs annually. Not only is the
interest in international rotations and experience high
among surgical residents and medical students, but
more than half of the trainees and student respondents said they have already engaged in medical and/
or surgical volunteer work in a LMIC. Armed with
the knowledge of this on-the-ground activity, coupled with a strong interest in these opportunities as
revealed in this survey, we decided that now would
be the time to grow and sustain the work that we do
In addition, there is a distinct parallel bet ween our
work with the medically indigent patients in Memphis
and the work that we perform in the communities we
serve overseas. We know that a better understanding of
the social history of our surgical patients in Memphis
makes us not just better surgeons, but better physicians in general. This knowledge is applicable in the
international setting as well. We also understand that
lessons learned from our work in LMICs strengthen
and inform our work here at home. We aim to dig
deeper into this reciprocal relationship.
From left: Dr. Zalamea with Marienelle R. Maulion, RPh;
and Cecil Leyson, MD, local volunteers
V102 No 9 BULLETIN American College of Surgeons