Erman Aytac interviews Professor Sezai Leventoglu about his experience of EBSQ examinations.

Prof LeventogluESCP recently focused on the importance of European Board of Surgical Qualification (EBSQ) in Coloproctology. The EBSQ examination is the certifying examination leading to the Diploma of EBSQ (Coloproctology) of the European Union of Medical Specialists. This is the only form of certification in the speciality of coloproctology within Europe and candidates who successfully pass the examination are awarded the title 'Fellow of the European Board of Coloproctology'. The ultimate aim is assuring standards in the interest of patient safety and wellbeing.

Erman Aytac (bottom left) recently spoke to Sezai Leventoglu, MD, FACS, FEBS-Coloproctology (bottom right) about his experience. Prof Leventoglu is consultant of endoscopy, proctology and stomatherapy units at Gazi University School of Medicine. He is a Professor of Surgery at Gazi University School of Medicine.

Prof Leventoglu specialises in treating patients with benign anorectal disease (especially fistula ani), pelvic floor disorders, colorectal cancer, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. He performs minimally invasive procedures such as robotic and laparoscopic colorectal resections, pelvic floor reconstructions, transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM) and transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS). He is especially interested in perianal fistulas that are hard to fix, like the horseshoe fistula and the rectovaginal fistula. Dr. Leventoglu is also a national expert in the surgical management of benign anorectal disease such as complex anal fistula (horseshoe fistula), anal fissure, hemorrhoidal disease, and pelvic floor disorders such as fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse, and constipation.

Prof Leventoglu has published extensively in academic research journals on colorectal surgery. He is the co-editor of the Benign Diseases of Anorectal Region (The Turkish Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery) published in 2011. He lectures both locally and internationally on invited topics including benign anorectal disease, pelvic floor disorders, ulcerative and Crohn's colitis, and rectal cancer.
In addition, he is a member of numerous surgical societies, including the Turkish Surgery Association (TSA), The Turkish Society of Colon and Rectum Surgery (TKRCD), the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP), the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS), the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the International Society University Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ISUCRS).

Erman Aytac (EA): Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview, Prof Leventoglu. As you know, ESCP dedicated November to the Coloproctology ESBQ examinations. Could you please share with the ESCP audience when you took these exams?

Sezai Leventoglu (SL): Thank you so much. I am very honored for your kind invitation. I took this exam at an advanced stage of my academic career. It's a test I should have taken before. This certification made me very excited and proud. Crowning this, especially in the later stages of my academic career, gave all my colleagues who were afraid to take this test a boost of confidence and motivation. I am the first and only person to have this certification at my university (Gazi University School of Medicine). This is the beginning of my efforts to motivate my colleagues. My goal is to get them certified too. I believe that certification is an important component of a high-quality education. I see the EBSQ-Coloproctology certificate as proof that you know a lot about a subject and have worked hard to learn more about it. This is an important threshold in my professional/academic career.

EA: You are a nationally renowned colorectal expert; how did you decide to take this examination and how has this certification impacted your career?

SL: Thank you for your compliment. It was an exam I always planned to take, however my academic and professional intensity prevented me from preparing for or entering it. My friend, colleague David was suggesting that I should apply for this exam. As your academic career progresses, you may be more reluctant to take these exams. After all, in an exam, you may not be successful. In the previous exam, my friend and colleague Prof Antonino Spinelli took the exam and was successful and was declared on social media . At that time, Prof Ethem Gecim and Prof. David Zimmermann motivated and pushed me to take the exam as well. So I decided to enter Dublin EBSQ 2022.

I think that the fact that I did well on this exam inspires my students, especially my assistants and general surgeons who are interested in colorectal surgery. My colleagues said, “Even though the teacher did not need certification, he took this exam and succeeded." "He has been an important role model for us,” I heard them say. From the congratulatory messages, I learned that the people who called me and asked how I was preparing for the exam and wanted to get information were very excited. This made me both happy and showed that I was doing the right thing. Fortunately, I took the exam and was successfully certified.

EA: What kind of preparation was needed for this?

SL: If you routinely work in the colorectal/proctology field and you are specific about it, it is easier to prepare. You should update your existing knowledge and reinforce it with your experiences. Of course, I must remind you that the ESCP book (A. Herold, P.-A. Lehur, K. E. Matzel, P. R. O'Connell. European Manual of Medicine Coloproctology) is an important guide. In my country, the Turkish Society of Colon and Rectum Surgery, of which I am on the Executive Committee, is very sensitive in this regard. The association organizes EBSQ courses within the country for its members to obtain the European qualification for this exam, and if the candidates are successful, they pay the entire exam fee and reward them. In the same way, he finished getting ready to help train qualified colorectal surgeons by giving national colorectal proficiency exams and certifying them. It is useful to remind candidates that those who are successful in the EBSQ can find a place for themselves in important sessions in national congresses, which is a separate motivation issue.

EA: Is this certification necessary for a specialized colorectal surgeon in Turkey?

SL: In my country, such a document is not obligatory. A document showing that your certification knowledge and your actions have been approved by a higher authority. When general surgeons who want to do colorectal surgery get certified, it encourages them to work in a safer area. The Turkish Society of Colon and Rectum Surgery is conducting research and making efforts to make colorectal surgery a subspecialty. In this regard, a proficiency board has been formed, and the certification process will begin with the creation of an exam. This excites us.

EA: What do you advise young ESCP members doing their fellowships now, should they take the ESBQ examinations? What will this add to their career and practice?

SL: I strongly recommend that they take the EBSQ exam. They can be sure that this certificate will open new doors for them in their working lives. It is very important for ESCP members to pass the EBSQ exam and be certified. This is the beginning of establishing strong relationships and forming new friendships. You understand that you are standardized in colorectal surgery training. EBSQ certificate is a good reference, especially for working as an observer or clinic fellow in internationally important centers. ESCP supports colorectal surgeons who are both members of the association and have EBSQ certification by providing training scholarships in different countries at different times. In particular, socialization and information interaction contribute to better cultural and professional development. EBSQ has an important place in the ESCP framework. This issue is seriously supported. There is a lot of effort put into the preparation of EBSQ exams, especially by Dieter and David. I would like to express my respect and gratitude to all the examiners, especially Dieter and David, to everyone working in the background.

EA: How do you envisage the future of colorectal specialization in Europe, and what role could ESBQ have in that?

SL: Standards of colorectal surgery expertise are increasing in Europe. The EBSQ-Coloproctology certification is the only recognized certification in Colorectal surgery/proctology specialty outside of America and Canada. Collaborative studies, preparation of colorectal surgery related guidelines, annual congresses, and masterclass practices within ESCP are raising the bar thanks to the dedicated colorectal surgeons. This awareness is important for preventing colorectal diseases, coming up with new ways to treat them, and working with the industry to come up with new ideas.

EA: Thank you very much for sharing your experience!

SL: Me too, thank you for your kind invitation. Best wishes to my ESCP family.

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