“Words cannot aptly describe how much I appreciate the opportunities this fellowship has opened up for me. Being one of the fellows to rotate in Rotterdam during a three-month period from October to December 2015 was an exhilarating and unforgettable experience for which I am truly grateful. First off, I would like to thank Dr. Jacques van der Meulen for choosing me as one of the recipients of the fellowship posts. Attending this fellowship was an excellent opportunity for me to acquire international experience and develop my knowledge and proficiency in craniofacial, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. The wide-ranging and diverse scope covered in the fellowship has expanded my professional as well as personal perspective. Special thanks are in order to Mrs. Perlita van Woerkom, who facilitated practical arrangements for me and was very generous and hospitable especially during my first few weeks of adjusting to my new environment.
This invaluable experience has given me the privilege of assisting and observing Dr. van der Meulen, Dr. Heike Klepetko and Dr. Jeroen Stevens in their cosmetic procedures at their private clinics. They were all very enthusiastic teachers and generous with their time and knowledge, and the “trade secrets” they have imparted to me and my co-fellow Dr. Radek Lhotsky from Czech Republic have added immensely to the treasure trove of new techniques and skills we brought home for our own private practices. At the Sophia Children’s Hospital, I am grateful and honored to have assisted and observed Dr. Irene Mathijssen and Dr. Sarah Versnel in various procedures in the fields of craniofacial and congenital surgery. For a young craniofacial surgeon such as myself, having hands-on experience in cranial vault remodeling, otoplasty and cleft surgery was fascinating and exciting every single time. At the Adult Hospital of the Erasmus Medical Center, Dr. Marc Mureau and Dr. Mathijssen provided me opportunities to witness varied reconstructive procedures indicated for oncologic, trauma or congenital deformities. All our mentors were inspiring, sincere and generous and I feel very fortunate to have worked and trained under such extraordinary plastic surgeons. I also had the chance to learn and practice some skills at the Microsurgery Skills Lab of the Erasmus Medical Center. The staff members were commendable for their patience and generosity in teaching basic microsurgical principles, most especially Mrs. Esther Fijneman. The residents of the Department of Plastic Surgery were friendly and very helpful. Discussions during weekly conferences and in the operating room were conducted in English. Operating room lists from six institutions were sent one to two weeks ahead of their schedule, allowing me to plan ahead so that I could maximize the training I could gain in a period of three months. The flexibility of the schedule and the wide range of procedures one can choose from were amazing and contributed to making me learn as much as I could during the fellowship.
The fellowship has broadened my experience in all aspects of facial plastic surgery and has given me more confidence and new skills as I begin my practice in my home country. Aside from the increased surgical knowledge and skills, it has fostered friendships and mutual connections among plastic surgeons from different countries and it may have unlocked possible future collaborations between Dutch and international plastic surgeons. I would definitely recommend to all young plastic surgeons interested in facial plastic surgery to pursue this fellowship training!”