Surgical Residents Score Wins as Medical Volunteers in Rio

UHealth in Rio - Part 2

When Sarah Eidelson, M.D., a general surgery resident at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, first learned other UHealth fellows were volunteering at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she was immediately intrigued. She had heard that Antonio Marttos, M.D., a trauma surgeon with UHealth, was playing a key role at the games, and she knew that hundreds of physicians worldwide were volunteering to work the events. Eidelson never imagined, though, that an email to Marttos inquiring if she too could be a part of the Olympics would eventually land her on Copacabana Beach.

“When I messaged Dr. Marttos to ask if anyone else could be a medical volunteer, he replied, ‘Yes, of course,’” said Eidelson, who is completing a research fellowship in trauma. She shared the news with Charles Karcutskie, M.D., another UM/JMH general surgery resident. Karcutskie, also finishing a trauma research fellowship, and Eidelson then applied to volunteer at the games.

“I wanted track from the start,” Karcutskie said. He had been a 400-meter sprinter in high school, and his passion was track and field.

Eidelson wanted to work beach volleyball. When they received their medical volunteer approval letters from the International Olympic Committee, they both got their wish.

“It’s going to be a good time because it’s the Olympics, but it’s also a fantastic career experience,” Karcutskie said. “It’s almost like we’re in charge, because those athletes without attending medical staff will be turning to us.”

Eidelson agreed. “This will be a very different medical environment,” she said. “It’s exciting, because in Miami you’re used to having support. In Rio, we could be the ones doing the triage.”

Karcutskie and Eidelson credit being in research with giving them the ability to take two weeks off during the middle of a residency. Eidelson said that if they were doing any other type of fellowship, they wouldn’t have been able to step away for the Olympics.

“Being away two weeks, I might have to do some papers remotely,” Karcutskie said, “but you can’t say no to this — it’s the Olympics! We are finding ways to arrange our schedules. If we were in rotation, that wouldn’t have been possible.”

Both are eager to treat patients, make connections and absorb as much knowledge as possible while in Rio. They are familiar with and prepared to stabilize their respective sports’ injuries — Karcutskie at Olympic Stadium and Eidelson at Beach Volleyball Arena on the sands of Copacabana Beach. And both are aware of how fortunate they are to be given this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“While everything we learn in Rio will be great for our careers,” Karcutskie said, “this will be more of an experience. It’s the Olympics. I’ll never get a chance like this again.”

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