In June 2016, Ana Rukavina Foundation announced the second public tender for professional training of young resident doctors or specialists in internal hematology and other related specializations at Georgetown University in the US.
At the tender was chosen dr. Ana Zelić Kerep, a hematology resident employed at University Hospital Centre Zagreb.
Before heading to a one-year professional training, we talked with Dr. Zelić Kerep and the great opportunity that was given to her by applying on a tender for professional training of Ana Rukavina Foundation:
1. Dr. Zelić Kerep, for starters, tell us something about yourself, your career so far, and your education.
I graduated from 4th Gymnasium in Zagreb, where I grew up. In 2005., I enrolled in the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, although my first wish was molecular biology.
Before deciding about what college to enroll in, since I was able to choose between medical studies and molecular biology, I thought about how can I contribute to the society the most, and so the medical studies outweighed molecular biology.
At that point, I realized that medicine was my calling and that I can use the knowledge of natural sciences, which were my first love, for easing the suffering of others. While studying, I attended many extracurricular activities. From being an assistant at the Department of Histology to singing and writing articles for “Medicinar” magazine and “STUDMEF”. I gave voice to my passion for science by writing scientific articles that have all been published so far. For one of those articles, I earned the Dean’s award for the best scientific work by a student. My biggest experience came from working on my thesis under the mentorship of prof. Danka Grčević, where I had the opportunity to participate in the process of creating an idea, working in a laboratory, processing data, and, of course, writing my thesis.
Besides attending the university, I was an active member of Academic assembly “Ivan Goran Kovačić”, and my first concert was conducted by the late maestro Šutej. Among other things, I participated in several performances of “Koncert za život”. All of the performances in “Lisinski” are particularly kind memories and wonderful experiences for me, especially since I was only an amateur singer.
After the internship, I’ve worked as a general practitioner outside of Zagreb, even though my biggest wish was hematology. Working as a general practitioner is an irreplaceable experience with which I’ve gained a great foundation for future clinical work. After a while, my wish came true and I started hematology residency in Clinical Hospital Center Zagreb in a team of brilliant doctors and scientists. I’m currently in my second year.
2. What motivated you to apply for the public tender of Ana Rukavina Foundation for professional training?
In everything I do, I want to use all the available resources to achieve the goal, which is currently to become a hematologist and scientist. I had to try because I realized how much value this kind of training has, especially since it fits into my vision of clinical and scientific work, perfecting skills, and creating new insights.
3. What do you expect from 1-year professional training at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., US?
I expect to get the foundation for future work and that I will gain knowledge and skills which I will continue to develop in Croatia. I believe that this process will be extremely valuable as a part of a common effort which the entire scientific community invests in improving the treatment of hematology patients.
4. Who will be your mentor?
My mentor will be prof. Bruce Cheson, an expert for lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). My colleague Milunović (the first Foundation’s candidate for professional training at the Georgetown University in the US), has only praises for the professor.
5. Tell us more about the program and what exactly will you be doing at Georgetown University for the next year.
I will get the education about conducting clinical researches of hematological diseases and about processing and interpreting data. I will focus mostly on acute leukemia, however, there is a chance that the area of my research and training expands, depending on the course of the professional training.
6. How can this help to patients in Croatia when you get back?
This will benefit not only to patients in Croatia but to all hematology patients because new scientific methods affect the entire world. I believe that this experience will contribute to my clinical work as well as my future scientific and educational work.
7. In your opinion, how important are this kind of public tenders, such as the one from Ana Rukavina Foundation, for professional training of young doctors, especially hematologists?
These public tenders are of great importance because they provide an experience that would otherwise be unavailable. Furthermore, for young doctors in today’s extensive medical profession, mentorship is crucial because it gives us the necessary guidance and a goal to which we should direct our endeavors and energy.
8. And for the end, what is your message for everyone who follows the work of Ana Rukavina Foundation and what can they expect when you come back to Croatia?
It’s hard to say what to expect because the medical science takes a lifetime of learning and perfecting it, but I know that after this experience I will continue to give my best so we can one day defeat the disease and give the patients an even better chance for recovery and quality life.
We are happy that it’s dr. Zelić Kerep who got this valuable opportunity for learning the latest achievements in medical science, especially in hematology. We believe that her motivation, scientific approach, and above all, her dedication to the patients, will be of great significance to all who are battling some kind of hematology disease.
We wish a safe trip to dr. Zelić Kerep, a valuable experience, and new forms of knowledge so she could provide the best possible medical care and hope to the patients in Croatia.