Eileen Natuzzi, MD, MS, MPH, FACS
Dr. Eileen Natuzzi has worked on health capacity building in the Solomon islands for 18 years. The featured picture is of Dr. Natuzzi in South Africa circa 1989.
How you got interested in global surgery
From the time I decided to go to medical school I knew I wanted to do international medical work. My first experience was as a 4th year medical student when I spent 2 months working in Soweto, South Africa at Baragwanath Hospital. It was an amazing experience in treating trauma and general surgery in a politically volatile and resource limited environment. When I graduated from UCSF general surgery I committed to regular working visits to hospitals in the Pacific Islands. I found myself drawn to Solomon Islands as one of the least developed countries in the Pacific Region.
How you achieved that interest
For me, in order to achieve a global health career, I had to focus on one country in order to get to know that country and let them get to know me. That allowed for the building of trust and sharing information. Global surgery work for me was a growth from the initial fascination of seeing fantastic diseases and injuries to placing them within the context of the social and political environment of the country. It was not enough to go and do surgery, it had to be going and sustainably building capacity through skills transfer.
Advice to Naffziger members who may want to pursue global surgery
Do not be afraid to approach other surgeons who are working in global surgery. Call and talk with us to see if the work is a fit for you. I highly recommend you develop a relationship with one country so you learn what is needed and what works or does not work. Learn the local language and become a fierce advocate for the people of that country.