Alumni Spotlight

Tamara Fitzgerald, MD

Class of: 2004

Specialties: Pediatric Surgery and Global Health

Current practice: Duke University

Fond memory of BUSM: During my final year at BUSM, I was able to participate in a global surgery rotation in sub-Saharan Africa. My experiences from that month have shaped the entire trajectory of my career. I am so thankful that BUSM supports these experiences for students. I now go to East Africa 2-4 times per year and work in capacity building and training African pediatric surgeons. Whenever my plane touches down, I can’t wait to see my African friends and colleagues.

Favorite professor at BUSM: Dr. Menzoian inspired me to become a surgeon. Entering my clinical years at BUSM, pursuing surgery was the last thing on my agenda. I had a lot of misconceptions around being a woman and choosing a career in surgery. But I loved operating with Dr. Menzoian. Every day in the operating room was like being in a well-choreographed dance. One day, Dr. Menzoian turned to the chief resident and said, “We’ve got to convince Tamara to choose surgery.” At that moment something changed, and I knew that surgery was something I could pursue.

Academic appointment: Assistant Professor of Surgery and Global Health, Duke University

Hobbies: Spending time with my husband and 2 children.

Most recent accomplishment: I received a Bass Connections grant to pursue a project in medical technology for low-income countries. While at BUSM, I also graduated with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Global health and engineering seem like very disparate interests, and it wasn’t always clear to me that these interests could fit together! I am learning that physicians in low-income countries need reliable and inexpensive medical technologies to fit with their clinical needs. Through this grant, we are able to form a multidisciplinary, multigenerational team to work on low-cost surgical technology. Our team consists of doctors, engineers, global health experts, faculty, post-docs, graduate students, medical students and undergraduates. I am excited to be part of a team built on mentorship and collaboration.

Recent publications: 

Muzira A, Kakembo N, Kisa P, Langer M, Sekabira J, Ozgediz D, Fitzgerald TN. The socioeconomic impact of a pediatric ostomy in Uganda: a pilot study. Pediatr Surg Int. 2018 Apr;34(4):457-466.

Wesonga AS, Fitzgerald TN, Kabuye R, Kirunda S, Langer M, Kakembo N, Ozgediz D, Sekabira J. Gastroschisis in Uganda: Opportunities for improved survival. J Pediatr Surg. 2016 Nov;51(11):1772-1777.

Baird R, et al. Regarding global pediatric surgery training opportunities. J Pediatr Surg. 2018 (in press)