International MSTCVS Fellow Brings Collaborative Quality Work Abroad

Since 2018, the Frances Fontan Fund Fellowship has offered international practitioners a unique opportunity to spend time collaborating with MSTCVS, working alongside a multidisciplinary team focused on quality improvement for adult cardiac and general thoracic surgery patients in Michigan. In August 2022, MSTCVS welcomed their fourth fellow, Dr. Ahmet Can Topcu, MD, an attending surgeon at Basakehir Cam ve Sakura City Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey. Following the completion of his work, The Turkish Society of Thoracic Surgery plans to support his goal of bringing a database to their Society. Dr. Topcu has thoroughly enjoyed his time in Michigan and saw great value in the collaborative work that the Michigan CQIs have pioneered. 

Seeing Collaboration Over Competition Firsthand

Dr. Topcu has immensely enjoyed his time with MSTCVS, stating that “the Michigan CQI’s are a prime example of how quality improvement can be achieved, and this is very well known throughout the world.” This is an incredible testament to the reach that our collaborative quality work has had throughout the world. 

As Dr. Topcu’s fellowship wraps up, his goal is to take what he’s learned about collaborative quality and implement similar strategies back home in Istanbul. “My hope is to try to build something, at least something similar to this. The whole CQI project cannot be completely replicated in another geographic area, but a portion can be replicated. But this is what we are hoping, what I am hoping,” he states.


A professional highlight of Dr. Topcu’s time spent with MSTCVS was the annual summer meeting, he ethusicastily referred to it as “the most influential scientific meeting I have ever had the chance to attend.”

Dr. Topcu particulary enjoyed the openness of the other physicians in attendance, he states,  
“This was also like a family reunion. These Michigan surgeons were like a big family. They were very open and honest with each other. They left their egos when they entered that meeting room, and just discussed their outcomes, and this was very special. The goal of the meeting was not to improve individual surgeons but to improve the whole State. Everyone had the opportunity to learn from each other, so you could learn from successes, and you could learn from failures one. In the end, this is helpful not for not only for the surgeons but for the patients, of the whole population of this beautiful state. These surgeons had a great opportunity to learn from each other and by doing this, they're providing a higher quality of care for their patients.” 

The Great Lakes State

During his fellowship, Dr. Topcu also had the opportunity to explore Michigan. His experience in Ann Arbor was especially inviting, “Ann Arbor is a very special location because it is an international hub of great scholars from all around the world. So it's just a beautiful town of beautiful people.”

Dr. Topcu at a Michigan Football game

Dr. Topcu arrived in August, so he got to enjoy summer, fall, and winter in Michigan-all in the span of four months! He also enjoyed exploring Detroit, Chicago, and Niagara Falls. After his fellowship wrapped up, he even took a quick trip to New York before heading back to Turkey.

The work of MSTCVS and all of the Michigan CQIs are inspiring medical providers across the globe, and Dr. Topcu is certainly a testament to that. We’re looking forward to seeing how he’s able to implement lessons from his fellowship back home. MSTCVS is also looking forward to welcoming another set of fellows in 2023, furthering the reach of collaborative work to improve patient care around the world.