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r Jonathan McGuinness, FRCS (CTh),
PhD, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon,
Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin
and Mater Misericordiae University
Hospital was a recipient of a Colles
Travelling Fellowship in Surgery in 2009,
which assisted towards the cost of a two year Fellowship in
Congenital Heart Surgery at Emory University in the US. He
spoke to Surgical Scope about his experiences at Emory.
Dr McGuinness' training in Ireland leading up to the award had
included a Basic Speciality Training (BST) scheme in the Mater
Misericordiae Hospital for two years in which he got his first taste
of Cardiothoracic Surgery, which he then followed with two years
of research into the role of Omega-3 fatty acids in ameliorating the
inflammatory response to cardiopulmonary bypass in RCSI which
resulted in his PhD.
He recalls: "I developed a keen interest in congenital cardiac surgery
through that research and so decided to spend the first six months of
my Higher Speciality Training (HST) in Paediatric Cardiac Surgery in
Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin. The remainder of my HST
in Cardiothoracic surgery was in Ireland and the grant then allowed
me to undertake two fantastic years as one of the few international
trainees to pursue the new American Board certified training
programme in Congenital Cardiac Surgery, of which Emory was one
of the eight approved centres in the US."
Dr McGuiness says the fellowship was one of the busiest training
periods in his life but also one of the most enjoyable training
experiences that he has had to date: "This was a real operating
fellowship and I spent all of every day in theatre with a structured
graduated programme to bring me from doing ASD closures to
arterial switches. I also did in-house call every third night covering
the 27 bed paediatric cardiac ICU and learnt how to manage all acute
problems that arise post-operatively.
"My Chief of Congenital Cardiac Surgery had a strong belief that a
congenital heart surgeon should be able to manage all problems that
arise in his/her patient, so I found myself learning to intubate 3kg
babies in acute situations in the ICU at three in the morning! I also
learnt my adult congenital cardiac surgery one day a week in Emory's
Adult Hospital across the street from the Paediatric Hospital."
In addition, he was the Congenital Heart Transplant Fellow and
undertook 36 heart transplant retrievals during the two years. He
explains: "This involved flying to some of the largest hospitals in the
US and some of the smallest places, such as Peoria, Illinois. The latter
trip was a two and a half hours flight from Atlanta in a snowstorm
in the small hours of the morning to retrieve a heart, no bigger than
a mandarin orange, to implant into a six-week-old baby in Atlanta.
Absolutely surreal!"
He adds: "I was fortunate to get to do enough transplants myself to
become a UNOS (the Government group regulating transplantation
in the US) certified cardiac transplant surgeon."
Dr McGuinness has now been working for the past two years as
a paediatric cardiac surgeon in Crumlin Hospital and an adult
cardiac and cardiac transplant surgeon in the Mater Misericordiae
Hospital. He comments: "I have to say that the fellowship training has
served me well to deal with the most challenging and unpredictable
The Colles Travelling Fellowship is one of a range
of Fellowships and Awards that are made available
annually as part of RCSI's commitment to encouraging
the acquisition of additional training and skills outside
the College's structured programmes. As a surgeon-
in-training or recently-appointed consultant surgeon,
these supports will enable you to gain vital, additional
expertise in centres of excellence overseas.
The application process is designed with the busy
trainee in mind. To apply, all you will need is:
your up-to-date CV;
details of the location of your preferred centre of
excellence; and,
details of your learning objectives.
With the range of Fellowships and Awards made
available by RCSI, whatever your specialty, you are likely
to find an opportunity that is right for you. The financial
value of the Fellowships and Awards ranges from 400
to 45,000, while the networking connections they offer
are invaluable and, potentially, a life-long benefit.
The key is to act quickly. To find the right opportunity for
you, simply visit:
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