Stephanie BreukinkStéphanie Breukink is ESCP's Guidelines Committee Chair, and colorectal consultant at Maastricht University Medical Center.

Current position and hospital: Associate Professor of Colorectal Surgery, Colorectal consultant, Maastricht University Medical Center, The Netherlands

ESCP Executive position: Guidelines Committee Chair

Main clinical and research interests: Quality of life after colorectal cancer; pelvic floor disorders

What made you want to specialise in colorectal surgery?

I’ve always been interested in the 'brain' of our abdomen. It appealed to me because you treat the whole population, from adolescents to the elderly, and both patients with benign as malignant disorders. Besides the diversity of the job, colorectal surgeons, nationally and internationally, have always been a very active group with a warm open personality. Following my 'gut-feeling' I wanted to be a part of this group.

How long have you been involved in ESCP and what made you want to become involved?

At the end of my surgical training I finished my PhD. At that time my supervisor advised me to present the results of this PhD at the Annual Meeting of ESCP. Until then I only attended meetings with a more general surgical character. During my first ESCP experience I was impressed by the quality of the presentations and was able to meet the big names in real. A whole new world opened up for me.

What do you value most about being involved in ESCP?

In my opinion ESCP provides a high quality platform for colorectal surgeons regardless of your level of training, career or nationality. You can be active on a national or international basis, and you can be involved in different activities like research, training, guidelines, etc. Meeting with these peers improves your patients' care and will enlighten your professional life.

Could you tell us about your best ESCP anecdote?

History repeats itself. Nowadays I go to the annual ESCP meetings and it is a privilege that I can go along with the current surgical residents and PhD students of Maastricht University. I see the same experience in their eyes and hope they will thrive to their max with their new peers.

If you had one bit of advice for younger surgeons starting their career in colorectal surgery, what would it be?

If you have a good idea or a question never hesitate to ask your supervisor or a member of ESCP to support you. And if your first attempts are not successful talk it over with your friends and colleagues and try again. The most interesting lessons in my life were not the smoothless success stories but the ones when I achieved my goals after a bumpy ride.

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