IUSM resident receives surgical resident volunteerism award for work in Rwanda

September 10, 2015

Shilpa Shree Murthy, M.D., MPH, a PGY-4 general surgery resident at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis will receive the Surgical Resident Volunteerism Award for developing the Clinical Breast Exam Simulation Training Course to provide care and education in Rwanda, Africa.

The American Colleges of Surgeons/Pfizer Surgical Volunteerism Award recognizes ACS fellows and members who are committed to giving back to society though significant contributions to surgical care as volunteers. Murthy was one of just three individuals to receive the award.

Shilpa Shree Murthy, M.D., MPH, and the Ineza Cooperative developed a low-fidelity breast model. | Photo By AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS

While attending the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Dr. Murthy founded the Global Medical Relief Program in 2002, one of the first undergraduate global health programs at the university. This program raised funds that were used to send medical supplies to underdeveloped countries around the world. In three years, the organization grew from six students to 100 and is currently one of the largest and most active global health undergraduate groups on campus. In collaboration with Health in Action, a medical student group from the University of Michigan, Dr. Murthy led a group of undergraduate engineer, public health and medical students to apply health education programs and discover innovative ways to develop a clean water system for several villages outside San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. Dr. Murthy also co-founded a chapter of Unite for Sight, a not-for-profit organization that provides free vision screenings.

Before graduating from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, in 2010, Dr. Murthy traveled to Malawi, Africa, with the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation in 2007. There she trained local women to deliver a health survey to more than 450 households. The survey was designed to determine how people accessed water and how this contributed to sanitation habits and nutritional status. She also assisted in and advocated for the creation of the first Global Health Center at Penn State University, Hershey.

In Kigali, Rwanda, Dr. Murthy designed and implemented a clinical breast exam training course for surgical, internal medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) residents and medical students at the University of Rwanda. She taught more than 230 students how to evaluate and examine patients presenting with a breast complaint. She used a low-fidelity breast simulation model created by a local women’s cooperative, Ineza, to provide care to impoverished women who survived the Rwandan genocide. Dr. Murthy also developed the curriculum and coordinated an ultrasound-guided breast core needle biopsy course for surgery and OB/GYN residents. In collaboration with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, Partners in Health, and the University of Rwanda, Dr. Murthy was a key leader in planning and executing Rwanda’s inaugural national breast cancer symposium. This program led to the creation of multidisciplinary tumor boards at university hospitals and further supported breast training programs throughout the country, and procurement of breast core needle biopsies.

Dr. Murthy plans to pursue an academic career where she can continue her work in medical education and improve access to quality surgical cancer care in the most disenfranchised patient populations.

Dr. Murthy will be formally recognized at the 2015 Clinical Congress in Chicago, IL, during the annual Board of Governors reception and dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Hilton Chicago Hotel. Clinical Congress attendees are invited to hear the honorees speak at a panel session, Humanitarian Surgical Outreach at Home and Abroad: Reports of the 2015 ACS/Pfizer Volunteerism and Humanitarian Award Winners, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2:30–5:45 p.m., at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL.