Apr 2018 London / Jul 2018 Rotterdam Thendo Netshiongowle (Johannesburg, South Africa)

The DAFPRS Fellowship is a very prestigious opportunity any young plastic surgeon needs to consider. It comes at the right time in one’s career just after finishing training. The transition from a trainee to a consultant is a very critical period in any one’s career and one needs guidance from mentors with years of clinical experience and world-renowned experts in the field. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the 2018 recipient and thus received world class training.

The first part of my fellowship was spent at the Royal Free London Hospital with Mr. A Grobbelaar as my assigned supervisor. His microsurgical skills were amazing and his solutions to facial nerve palsy par excellent. I also benefited from his words of wisdom and being fellow countrymen, we also had interesting talks about our beloved country. On our non-clinic and non-theater days I joined other theatres and I was amazed by the number of DIEP flaps being done. Almost all consultant offered this service and I am grateful to Mr. Ghali, Mr. Marsh, Mr. Kang, Mr. Woollard, Mr. Sojitra and Mr. Hamilton for allowing me to join their theatre, Miss Jemec for inviting me to attend BFIRST activities, Mr. Chana for inviting me to his private list and Mr. Sivakumar for inviting me to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital to learn about congenital hands. On a social note, London is a very vibrant cosmopolitan city with a lot of activities on offer. I would spend my weekends at the Emirates stadium watching my favorit team play or spend time shopping at Harrods or visiting the many other attractions

The second part of my fellowship was spent at the EMC, Rotterdam. I choose to join the Dutch Craniofacial Unit at the Sophia Children’s Hospital. The unit is world renowned for craniofacial surgery with leading experts such as Prof Mathijssen and Dr Versnel. I witnessed the use of spring mediated distraction for the first time after only reading about it in our textbooks. Dr Versnel also helped me settle in well as the secretary responsible for the organisation was off sick. On weekends one can take advantage of the Schengen VISA with Euro tours of famous cities in France and Belgium just a fast train away.

Overall my experience has been very good and this fellowship has taught me a lot in such a short period and helped shortened the steep learning curve and eased my transition from trainee to consultant and helped me develop the confidence needed.

It is one of a kind with different locations to choose from with each location run by expert in the field. For this reason, I would like to thank Dr van der Meulen not only for assembling such a prestigious program but also for choosing me to be part of it.

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