Navigating through my AO CMF Fellowship journey: A reflection of growth and impact
BY CHARAN REDDY
As I embarked on my dental journey from a humble, small town to the bustling city of Hyderabad, India, I had no inkling of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. The enormity of the change was overwhelming, akin to diving into a rapidly flowing stream.
Looking back now, I realize that these leaps of faith can lead to incredible growth. My initiation into the world of oral and maxillofacial surgery occurred early in my dental school days and left an indelible mark on my career path. The decision to specialize in this field became unwavering as I progressed through dental school and entered the realm of full-time dentistry, while simultaneously preparing for the demanding residency exams. Matching into the oral and maxillofacial surgery residency marked a new phase of challenges. The rigor of the program made me acknowledge that my potential as a clinician had barely been tapped.
Amidst this intense journey, a cold January morning in 2021 brought a revolutionary revelation. An article about the pioneering work of Dr Ariel Hirschhorn (Attending surgeon at the Sheba Medical Center Department of craniomaxillofacial surgery, an AO CMF Fellowship Host Center in Tel Aviv District, Israel) and his team in treating pediatric ameloblastoma piqued my interest. Despite initial hurdles in accessing the full paper, an unexpected e-mail exchange with Dr Hirschhorn ensued, blossoming into a fruitful dialogue and collaboration. Through twists and turns, an invitation to visit Sheba medical center in Tel Aviv materialized in the form of a short term fellowship. A once-distant dream transformed into reality, illustrating the power of determination, support, and the unexpected.
My days as a post residency doctor began at 7 AM, similar to the fellowship workplace, but I couldn't resist bringing some familiar habits along, like wearing formals and making tea. However, the more casual dress code and the welcoming team quickly introduced me to coffee, pulling me into a new addiction. The welcoming and kind people in Israel made me feel at home, and I soon made new friends among the residents. This experience reinforced my belief in exploring all possible treatment approaches for patients, pushing beyond what we already know to find the best solutions.
Upon my exploration of the city over the weekends, I quickly acclimated to the vibrant atmosphere of Tel Aviv. The warm and welcoming nature of the people, coupled with their love for coffee and art, made me feel at home from the start. Exploring the beautiful streets, markets, and art galleries of Tel Aviv, and even floating in the enigmatic Dead Sea, added invaluable experiences to my journey. Dr. Hirschhorn's personal tour around Jerusalem and his insightful stories further enriched my fellowship experience.
The contrast between my Indian experience and the well-established maxillofacial surgery department at Sheba Medical Center was striking. Here, maxillofacial surgery wasn't confined to limited settings; instead, it flourished as a dedicated discipline with ample resources and collaborative support. This stark difference widened my horizons and urged me to explore alternative approaches to patient care.
Engaging with the Sheba team emphasized the importance of cutting-edge technology and a cohesive unit in achieving optimal outcomes. The exposure to 3D technology, advanced genomic sequencing, endoscopic procedures, and innovative oncological treatments was eye-opening. It shattered my preconceived notions and encouraged a holistic perspective towards patient care. One particular moment that left me awestruck was witnessing pre- and post- treatment PET scans of a patient on KEYTRUDA. The impact of modern treatment approaches became undeniably evident in the results. Advanced technology and a united team made a significant impact on patient outcomes, highlighting the importance of staying up to date with cutting-edge practices.
My journey in Tel Aviv taught me the value of displacing oneself from the familiar. This displacement unraveled new avenues and insights, fostering personal and professional growth. Witnessing cases, collaborating with experts, and immersing myself in a dynamic routine broadened my perspective, enabling me to envision a more comprehensive approach to patient well-being. Ultimately, this experience reinforced the significance of teamwork and connections in medicine. The bonds forged with fellow professionals transcended borders, leaving an enduring impact. As I return home, the memories, insights, and fresh perspectives gained from this transformative journey will continue to shape my path as a dedicated oral and maxillofacial surgeon. My time at Sheba Medical Center will forever be etched in my heart as a transformative and enlightening experience, shaping me into a more comprehensive and compassionate healthcare provider.
In the words of AO CMF International Board Chairperson Gregorio Sánchez Aniceto, our mission remains to restore patients to their precondition state. My journey from a small town to international collaboration has reinforced this principle, reminding me that innovation, collaboration, and empathy are the cornerstones of exceptional patient care.
About the author
Dr. N. Charan Kumar Reddy
BDS, MDS (oral and maxillofacial surgery)
BDS from Panineeya institure of dental sciences and MDS from sri sai college of dental surgery, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
Hailing from a small town in south india called pileru
Interests – trauma, targeted therapies, orthognathic surgery