January 29, 2021
My name is Jorge Vargas and I am a gastroenterologist from Costa Rica, a small but incredibly beautiful Central American country. My main field of interest is digestive endoscopy and especially endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). I have had previous training in EUS, but felt that I would benefit greatly from additional education. As Costa Rica is still a developing country, access to quality advanced education is difficult. So when I heard about the WEO International School of EUS (WISE) program, I decided that this was a great opportunity to improve the quality of my EUS practice.
After applying, I was admitted to the 2020 WISE course. I was eager to visit the ASAN Medical Center in Seoul and meet Professor Dong Wan Seo (the LeBron James of endoscopic ultrasound!) and the rest of the staff, but COVID 19 struck hard all over the world and all on-site training was cancelled or postponed.
Despite the pandemic, Professor Seo and the rest of the staff rapidly engineered a top-notch virtual program so that the 2020 participants could still have access to high quality education in EUS.
In June 2020, we had the first online module which was on EUS anatomy and fine-needle aspiration (FNA). Although I thought I already knew everything on this topic, I couldn’t have been more wrong. From changing the settings of the EUS processor in order to improve the quality of the image to basic liver anatomy, I learnt so many fundamental things that really changed my everyday practice completely.
In September 2020, the second online module covered pancreatic fluid collections and other interventional EUS topics. During this module we had the opportunity to present our own difficult cases and receive advice from the experts and the other participants. One of the aspects of the WISE project that I think is great is the opportunity to meet and share knowledge with people from all over the world. And it is not just about EUS education but also learning about their life and culture.
Finally, in December 2020, we had the third and last module which covered further aspects of interventional EUS. It was amazing to learn tips and tricks directly from the fathers of therapeutic endoscopic ultrasound. This learning has hugely improved my results and given me great confidence during my interventional EUS procedures. Ultimately, this is what I appreciate the most: acquiring the knowledge to improve the quality of care for my patients.
In all the three modules live cases were presented from the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology in Hyderabad, India. The quality of the transmission and the cases chosen were excellent. Having the chance to see live cases is very useful as it gives you the opportunity to learn how the experts deal in real time with the nuances of real cases.
I must highlight the great attitude displayed by the experts who were all eager to teach, even though the schedule of the live transmissions was inconvenient in some cases because of the time difference. They always taught with a smile on their faces and that is so much appreciated.
I couldn’t be more grateful to have been part of WISE 2020. Access to high quality teaching is still very difficult, especially for those of us who come from developing countries. Initiatives like this help knowledge reach some parts of the world in a way that would be impossible otherwise. And, finally, one must bear in mind that this effort will translate into better outcomes for our patients.
Jorge Vargas, Costa Rica
Dr Jorge Vargas, Dr Vargas during a procedure in his practice in Costa Rica