Chapter 1. Arranging the journey

My name is Camilla Maccario, I’m 29 years old and I’m a surgeon. I’ve been finishing my specialization course to become a good orthopedic surgeon. As of today, I’m part of the team of Dr. Federico G. Usuelli.
Let me share to describe the beginning of my great adventure: 365 extraordinary days that, over time, I’m going to tell you about, hoping it might interest and captivate you.

I started my studies in Milan, like many other students, away from home and from my loved ones (I was born and raised by the sea, in Liguria), always with the best intentions and aware that the road to becoming a surgeon was long and complex.

Despite my young age, along the way I’ve grown disillusioned with the education system of our country.
I’m sorry to admit, but there is a lack of resources and opportunities for young people. Frequently we are seen as labour force to exploit, rather than to let grow and develop.

But I never lost my enthusiasm and in 2013 I became part of the team of Dr. Federico G. Usuelli, a brilliant young orthopedic surgeon, whose international training has proved valuable not only in terms of know-how: living and practicing abroad have allowed Federico to have an open mind and a pro-active approach towards all colleagues, from the youngest to the eldest.

Thanks to Federico I could learn, experiment and “practice”… I did a lot of practice! Growing both professionally and personally, getting into foot and ankle surgery day after day.

I’m very grateful to Federico, especially for encouraging me to learn and to complete my education through international experience. So, in July 2014, with high hopes and great will power, I agreed to attend a one-year fellowship program in US.

diario-di-una-fellow

The preparation for this one-year fellowship was not simple at all. The first obstacle was the bureaucracy the United States. It took almost a year to get the J1 Visa, the one required to complete a year of work and studies in the United States.

But it was only the beginning, I had to overcome a challenging interview at the embassy (the Americans are keen to meet you “personally” before accepting your request). After we met, they wanted to make sure I also had a good medical insurance, as their health care system is completely private.
Without losing the smile, I followed all instructions to the letter and, finally, in july 2014 they confirmed that I was ready for my fellowship in Baltimore.

Or so I thought! The arrival in the city caught me unprepared. It didn’t look like an easy place to live, full of contradictions and characterized by an unbridgeable gap between the rich and poor, the blacks and whites.

Although I found great willingness in the hospital world, it was not easy to settle in. Finding home and joining – professionally and personally – a hospital team were not easy steps, I had to overcome prejudices from colleagues and strongly to difficulties that probably, living alone overseas, seemed bigger than they actually were.

However, my year as a fellow was thrilling; it allowed me to grow, coping with fears and acquire skills. A year dedicated to myself and to my training, but above all the opportunity to hang out with a young and competent team, which prepared and trained me to take full advantage of this additional year of training abroad.

These few lines to tell you about the beginning of my great adventure, 365 incredible days that I would like to share with you. So, dear friends, I’ll be in touch soon with a new chapter…