Young Minds Get a Jumpstart on Careers in Surgery

Pictured: Clarence High School

Junior Robotic Surgery Challenge Allows High School Students Unparalleled Training Opportunity

Sixty-seven Western New York high school students, all with aspirations of one day saving lives, had the opportunity of a lifetime this year as part of the inaugural Greater Buffalo Junior Robotic Surgeon Challenge.

The students, representing the nine schools listed below, spent the last three months learning how to effectively utilize a surgical robot. They were each instructed at Roswell Park in the same program that is used to train experienced, practicing surgeons around the globe in robotic-assisted surgery.

For many of the students, the experience affirmed their interest in a medical career.

“I want you to know this program has changed (my daughter’s) life,” said Amy Sullivan, mother of Griffin Sullivan, an East Aurora High School student and one of the challenge finalists. “She was interested in medicine before and it was a possibility for the future. After her first (Junior Robotic Surgeon) session it became more than a ‘maybe.’ She has loved every minute of her time there. It’s been an unbelievable opportunity. THANK YOU!”

“This program has expanded my horizons and opened my eyes to new career opportunities. It has been absolutely amazing," added challenge participant Victoria Rucinski of Sacred Heart Academy.

The program was designed by Khurshid Guru, MD, Director of the Roswell Park Center for Robotic Surgery, and Eileen O’Brien, PhD, STEM Coordinator for Immaculate Conception School, and organized by Erinn Field, program coordinator for Roswell Park’s Applied Technology Laboratory for Advanced Surgery.

The experience culminates this Saturday, April 26, as the top two students from each school compete in the main event for the title of Junior Robotic Surgeon. The students will perform an actual robot-assisted surgery in the Roswell Park operating room on a synthetic bladder while the audience watches a telecast. Roswell Park surgeons will rate the finalists’ performance to decide the winner.

Claudine Karambizi from Nardin Academy summed up the experience eloquently: “Dreaming doesn’t change the world, thinking does. Roswell Park allows youth to not only dream, but to think and achieve.”

View some of the pictures from the various training sessions above, and stay tuned to hear the announcement of our first Junior Robotic Surgeon.  

Participating Schools:

  • Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart
  • Clarence High School
  • East Aurora High School
  • Hamburg High School
  • Mount Mercy Academy
  • Mount St. Mary Academy
  • Nardin Academy
  • St. Francis High School
  • Williamsville East High School