Dr. Matthew Boroditsky is currently a PGY-1 in Plastic Surgery at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., having recently completed his MD also at UBC.
Matthew has a passion for global health and advocacy, which lead him to pursue the Master of Global Surgical Care. He feels it will help him build a durable foundation consisting of the skill sets necessary to provide leadership for impoverished communities through education, research, and safe surgical care.
Read on to find out more about Matthew, his background and experiences, what lead him to the field of global surgical care and the MGSC, and more!
What do you love to do in your spare time?
I am a big proponent of travelling. I also enjoy reading, sailing, and ceramic wheel throwing. I enjoy playing ice hockey and golf in my spare time.
What has inspired you to study and to work in the field of global surgery?
My first exposure to low-resource settings was in 2013 as a high school student, partaking in a service-learning endeavour at the Project Somos Children’s Village in Guatemala. This experience made a significant impact on my life. It was the first time I had witnessed poverty and a disseminated lack of access to essential human resources. I gained an early appreciation for widespread inequity, particularly in healthcare. I soon became invested in combatting these health inequities and, through several life events, decided to raise funds in partnership with the Children’s Wish Foundation to build a medical clinic on site. The medical clinic opened in 2017 and currently serves the children and families from the surrounding communities of Project Somos, both through general health screenings and public health research. This experience not only solidified my desire to incorporate global health as a fundamental pillar within my career path but also sparked a curiosity to gain formal education in global health literacy.
Upon entering Medical School in 2017, my passion for global health and patient advocacy grew. I focused my work not only globally but locally in British Columbia. I was dedicated to establishing awareness and influencing change for children living with DiGeorge Syndrome. This experience solidified my interest in pursuing research and leadership in patient advocacy, highlighting unmet needs in the many underserved populations living in our province. It was also during medical school that I began to recognize another great passion of mine, surgery. My clerkship provided me with extensive exposure to the surgical practice, enabling experiences in both the clinical and academic arenas. In 2021, I was accepted into the UBC Plastic Surgery residency program. I gained an in-depth understanding of the need for cleft palate/lip, trauma, and burn care globally, standing as critical pillars in combating the global burden of disease, specifically in Low-to-Middle Income Countries. I saw the MGSC program as a medium to materialize my understanding surrounding the practicalities of incorporating global surgical care into my future practice and gaining an appreciation for cultural humility within global surgical care.
My goal is to maintain a diverse surgical practice focusing on surgical care in low-resource communities, gaining an appreciation for the many surgical challenges they face. I hope to build a durable foundation with the skill sets necessary to provide leadership for impoverished communities through education, research, and safe surgical care. I hope to weave together my global health and plastic surgery passions and be part of the next generation of surgical humanitarians. My goal is to apply my learning from this course to further investigate burn management in Uganda, in which our residency has a robust long-term partnership, and potentially travel back to Guatemala to work with the Health for Humanity organization to combat the unmet surgical needs for cleft lip/palate and trauma reconstruction.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Based on the few courses I have completed thus far, I would say that the MGSC provides a strong foundation in the practical knowledge and skill set necessary to be an active participant in global surgical care. The program provides education through multiple forums, with modules strategically designed to break down and isolate fundamental principles within global surgical care, from program development and evaluation to humanitarian response. The program also enables a rigorous collaborative and group-based component, building partnerships with many other students with varied experiences globally. Additionally, the instructors provide a rich first-hand experience that truly enhances the course material and breaks the barriers of didactic theoretical learning to a much more detailed and practical setting.
I understand you had an interesting field experience in Guatemala. What inspired you to work in low resource settings and what are some of your key lessons learned and experiences that you would like to share with our readers?
Growing up in a privileged community, I had minimal exposure to low-resources settings. I also had a diminished understanding of the challenges faced in these communities and the social determinants of health attributed to many of these widespread inequities. My inspiration for my initial involvement in these communities came when I was a recipient of our healthcare in Canada. This realization of the significant discrepancies in access to similar resources globally and within many of our rural communities fostered a more profound personal interest in learning about these settings and their disparities. Nevertheless, one of the most significant lessons I have learned thus far is the importance of cultural humility. The unfortunate reality is that many of these programs can cause significant harm to the communities they are trying to help.The importance of empowerment and making the community a central component of the healthcare planning process enables a sustainable way forward. Additionally, this concept needs to be taken into consideration within the realms of global health research as well as policy implementation, shifting our perspectives towards the ‘decolonization’ of health equity practices (https://gh.bmj.com/content/5/8/e003394)
Is there any work/document/article that you are currently working on that you’d like to promote? Our community would love to find out what our students are currently working on. How can our community learn more about you? (Website, Linkedin, Youtube, etc)
The MGSC program has provided a forum for students to construct practical assignments with the hope of incorporating them into our future global endeavours. I am currently working on a theoretical program assessment and evaluation model for a burn injury in Uganda for the SURG 516 course. I hope to incorporate elements of this program into a practical field assignment nearing the conclusion of this program. Additionally, on a separate note, if people would like to know more about Project Somos, more information can be found at https://projectsomos.org/