Nuri OkkabazA surgeon at Bağcılar Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey has become one of the most qualified colorectal surgeons in the world after scoring the highest marks in Europe in an advanced specialist exam.

Nuri Okkabaz was awarded the 2018 Lars Påhlman medal after obtaining a higher score than all other candidates who sat the European Board of Surgery Qualification (EBSQ) in Coloproctology during 2017.

Okkabaz, who is a gastrointestinal surgeon, with a special interest in colorectal, cancer and abdominal surgery, is just the third person to receive the medal, which is named after late ESCP honorary member, Professor Lars Påhlman.

He was presented with the award during a ceremony at ESCP's 2018 conference in Nice, which was attended by thousands of colorectal surgeons from all over the world.

The EBSQ exam is the first of its kind looking at the colorectal sub-specialty in Europe. To be eligible to sit the exam, candidates must demonstrate that they are future opinion leaders in the management of colorectal diseases in their country and have completed a minimum of seven years of specialist surgical training. As part of the exam, candidates must complete a written paper, discuss specific patient problems, assess ten to 12 patient scenarios, examine specimens and critically appraise a paper written by one of their peers.

Okkabaz said:

“I believe in subspecialisation in surgery and as a GI surgeon, most of my practice is colorectal surgery. However, there is no colorectal certification in my country and I greatly appreciate ESCP and the UEMS section of surgery that provides surgeons around Europe with the opportunity to prove themselves and attain the coloproctologist certificate.

“The EBSQ was a stimulating challenge and it is a great honour to be one the first to receive the prestigious Lars Påhlman medal.”

Professor Emmanuel Tiret, former ESCP President, presented the award at the ESCP 2018 meeting. He said:

“This medal is a tribute to Lars Påhlman’s achievements and contributions to coloproctology in general and to training and education in particular.”

Lars Påhlman was one of the key figures in the early years of the ESCP and was devoted to establishing and strengthening coloproctology as a surgical subspecialty in Europe. To achieve that goal he chaired the EBSQ Coloproctology within the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) for many years.

Following his premature death in 2015, ESCP established the Lars Påhlman medal to be awarded annually to the candidate with the highest score in the EBSQ examination. The EBSQ qualification is the only way to prove specialist skills and competences in coloproctology.

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