Why I sat for the exam:
The rules of the American Board of Pediatric Surgery do not allow foreign-trained pediatric surgeons to take their exam and become ABP-certified. The European Board Certificate gave me a way to prove my competency and served as a basis to practice pediatric surgery as an attending in the United States for over 6 years.
How did I feel during the exam:
My impression at the time was that this was a very thorough and comprehensive examination. It comprised all aspects of pediatric surgery, including trauma and urology. Also, being asked to demonstrate your skills on a live, actual patient requires your complete concentration. I think this the European Board of Paediatric Surgery examination truly and fairly tests your skills and knowledge. At the same time, the examiners were respectful and calm.
How did I feel when I was announced as the winner of the best candidate award:
Surprised, in one word. There were so many very good candidates who took the test together with me. I never thought that I would get the highest score.
What has receiving the award done for my career:
It gave me the confidence to practice in the United States as a foreign-trained pediatric surgeon, despite lacking formal American Board of Pediatric Surgery certification. In difficult times, my mentor Dr. Keith Georgeson always reminded me that I had won the award and therefore should always reach for higher ground. It also gave me confidence in a later successful application for a chair position. When things don't go as expected, looking at the award can sometimes remind me that I am not the complete looser I feel like in those situations.