1) Please introduce yourself.
2) Where is your working place back in your country and what is your specialty?
3) How did you get to know Severance? Why did you choose Severance as your training hospital?
I got to know about the Severance hospital department of Otolaryngology and head and neck surgery from a lecture of Prof. Se Heon Kim I could attend remotely during my residency. At that time, I was impressed by the contents of his presentation robotic surgery procedures. While I was looking for information on this department, I got in contact with a previous fellow who enthusiastically suggested me the fellowship program and therefore I applied as an international fellow in head and neck surgery.
4) How long is your training period in Korea?
My fellowship period will last 1 year.
5) Which area did you focus on during your fellowship at Severance?
Since the early years of my residency, my growing interest in oncological patients has led me to focus on head and neck surgery, either on a research and a surgical dimension. The head and neck surgery deals with lesions and tumors of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, salivary glands, thyroid, and the skin of the head and neck.
6) What is the most impressive feature of Severance Hospital?
Severance hospital is a cutting-edge medical center providing the highest quality care in many disciplines. The hospital itself is really modern and every service is very efficient and aimed at patients' satisfaction. On the other side, doctors are provided with the best tools to fulfill their role encompassing a very efficient organization and planning thanks to nurses and secretaries, a very proficient electronic medical record system, and the best tools for patients' examination and surgical operations. I was impressed by the technological incorporation in many tasks and by the Severance personnel's discipline and dedication.
7) What are the specific contents of your fellowship program at Severance?
The oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx are important sites for fundamental functions such as speaking and swallowing; moreover, the head and neck is a very delicate part for cosmetics. Ablative surgery in these areas can have and severe impact on the quality of life of patients. My interest in minimally invasive surgery, especially robotic transoral surgery, in order to reduce this impact, led me to choose this fellowship. Professor Se Heon Kim and Professor Koh are internationally-known leaders in this field, and it is a privilege for me to learn from them. Nevertheless, I'm also focusing on all the fields of this wide discipline, especially open neck surgery and laryngomicrosurgery.
8) What was your first impression of Korea?
South Korea is exceptional in its culture and heritage. Being surrounded by this distinctive ancient culture together with the cutting-edge modernity that distinguishes Seoul was a unique experience. The country is incredibly tidy, efficient, and safe and this makes South Korea particularly easy to adapt and living for a foreigner. I was particularly impressed by how Korean people are holding their unique personality of respect, honesty, dedication to success, and family values.
9) What is the best memory so far during your stay here?
I was lucky enough to meet many international fellows attending other disciplines in Severance Hospital. The cultural and personal exchanges with these people coming from many countries enriched my experience beyond the simple medical formation. I have built very strong bonds with several of them, forging those which I am sure are meant to be long-lasting friendships.
10) Who are you most thankful for at Severance (who helped you the most) & why?
I have first to thank Prof. Se Heon Kim for leading my training here. Moreover, I am especially grateful for having the chance to learn from all the professors of the head and neck department. Prof. Dahee Kim was a mentor for me inside and outside the operation room; she never stopped teaching me and always backed me up when I faced difficulties. Prof. Young Min Park who, even from Gangnam severance, was a constant support during my training and particularly encouraged me through this path, involving me in clinical research. Prof. Hong for his enthusiasm in teaching to us fellows, Prof. Sim for his support and his help and Prof. Koh. I also want to thank my fellowship colleague Kyuin Lee for his friendship, and all the residents, nurses and professional assistants that welcomed me from the very beginning and helped me in many ways. A special thanks to the international office personnel Ms. Seunghyun Lee and Ms. Soobin Park.
11) If you were to get the chance to come back, which field of clinical study would you like to focus on?
I am very enthusiastic about head and neck surgery but I feel also the need to learn how to perform reconstruction after the ablation surgery so in the future I would also like to focus on reconstructive surgery of the head and neck area.
12)Please describe a special/troublesome experience you went through because of COVID19 during your fellowship.
Unfortunately, I happened to start my fellowship during this particular historical period characterized by the COVID19 pandemic. When I arrived in the country, the government was taking very strong decisions to contrast the infection and therefore these first 6 months of my experience in Korea have been burdened by early night curfew and gathering restrictions which somehow did not allow me to fully exploit the life outside the hospital. Anyway, we are in front of a turning point in this pandemic and hopefully, life will soon come back to a more normal way!