An Interview with Professor Klaus Matzel

Interview by Gloria Zaffaroni 

GZ KMESCP is dedicating this time to colorectal surgery training. We are interviewing experts and educators from around the world, aiming to assess current colorectal training status globally, highlighting pros and cons, and identifying sustainable pathways for improvement.

In this interview, past ESCP President Professor Klaus Matzel discusses the history of The European School of Coloproctology (ESC), and why surgeons should learn more and apply for ESC courses. He also mentions upcoming courses for the rest of 2023 and beyond.

Gloria Zaffaroni (GZ): Dear Professor Matzel, this interview is a true honor for the Social Media Working Group. We are aware of your significant contributions to the European School of Coloproctology (ESC), particularly in the field of education. Could you briefly explain what the ESC is and how it came into existence? Additionally, we would like to know about its role within ESCP.

Klaus Matzel (KM): The European School of Coloproctology (ESC) is a platform within the ESCP aimed at offering year-round training and education independent of the annual meeting. The idea was born when it became apparent that there was a need for such offerings, based on requests from members for training and education, as well as increasing interest from industry partners and potential supporters to invest in education and engage in long-term training with scientific societies. The structure of the ESCP Education Committee at the time was not suitable to meet these needs and expectations. The current role of ESC within the ESCP is to host various educational activities, including singular events (such as the TaTME workshop in the past), repeating events (like minimal invasive CME courses), and structured training curriculums (such as the training pathway for colorectal robotic surgery). Content development and delivery are handled by the ESC independently from industry and other sponsors.

The setup of the ESC allows for long-term planning in several ways. For example, there is no defined length of term for those engaging and contributing, and cooperating partners understand and appreciate the opportunity to plan mid- to long-term, which is of mutual interest. Communication and cooperation are close as the ESC sits under the Education Committee, allowing for the creation of synergies. ESC is financially independent from ESCP and the Education Committee, and any surplus generated feeds back to the Society. All projects of ESC are self-funded.

GZ: All of this sounds very interesting, a synergy and autonomy that can lead to excellent results. This allows for long-term projects that are not subject to congress deadlines and committee members. Who can apply for an ESC course, and why should they apply? 

KM: We strive to offer a broad portfolio of content that caters to different levels of expertise and various needs. The content is delivered in various formats, ranging from webinars to hands-on exercises and training pathways. One significant advantage within the ESCP is the vast network of colleagues, including top experts for every topic, ensuring high-quality and comprehensive content and delivery.

These diverse activities are accessible to all colleagues; ESCP membership is not a prerequisite. However, being an ESCP member offers access to other assets of the ESCP, such as the Resource Library, which can provide additional benefits to anyone interested in the field.

All educational offerings by the ESC can be found on the ESCP website and are typically promoted through social media and the ESCP newsletter.

GZ: All past and current courses are available on the website, however do you have any information or details about upcoming projects? When will we have the opportunity to apply?

KM: Several activities will happen during the coming months. “Novice workshop for colorectal robotic surgery. Sept 4/5, 2023, Strasbourg, France”.” Minimal invasive CME program Oct. 24/25, 2023; Copenhagen, Denmark”, “IPAA and continent ileostomy workshop, Nov. 16/17, 2023, Hamburg, Germany”. “Virtual operating room”, the date is not yet defined. The robotic colorectal surgery training program is ongoing. Webinar Series on “Incontinence and obstructed defecation” will start on July 13 and “From basic skills to fine artRobotic colorectal surgery” will continue.

Information about all these activities can be found on the ESCP website, and they will also be announced through various information channels of ESCP. Understanding that potential participants value having the information available well before the event to allow for planning, we immediately release the news once the event date is set. We also make an effort to distribute the offline activities, especially the repeating events, across Europe to facilitate access.

As we look ahead to 2024, there are already several exciting projects in preparation.

GZ: There appears to be a wide range of high-level courses that can accompany surgeons in their journey of consolidating their knowledge during their training. And if someone among us has a great idea for a course to propose and organize, how can they get in touch with ESC? What are the characteristics the course should have, and how is the development of the idea supported?

KM: ESC is inclusive and not exclusive. The exchange of ideas, including proposals and requests for new topic to be addressed, is fundamental to the growth of the project. We very much appreciate incoming proposal for educational activities. Of course, there is an element of assessment of the content, format, relevance of the proposal as courses must adhere to high standards to ensure quality education. In addition, its economic implications have to evaluated, but support is provided for both the methodological aspects of the course and the financial aspects.

But the idea of ESC goes further. As a next step, it is intended to establish an environment and framework in which ESCP supports the development of novel ideas in Coloproctology and their implementation into practice.

GZ: Thank you for the time dedicated, and we hope that each ESCP member can find the most suitable course for themselves! We are confident that the wide range of offerings will pique the interest of everyone.

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