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Message from the Surgery Chair

Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS

Welcome and thank you for visiting the Department of Surgery at the Creighton University School of Medicine and CHI Health in Omaha, Nebraska!

The Creighton Department of Surgery has an amazing legacy of leaders in surgery including Doctors Claude Organ, Danny Jacobs, Tom DeMeester, and Robert Fitzgibbons. Informed by this amazing lineage and in line with the missions and vision of Creighton and CHI Health, it is an honor and privilege to serve as the Chair of Surgery at Creighton University School of Medicine and Chair of Surgery at CHI Health. I am thrilled to share with you some of the exciting upcoming initiatives.

In partnership with CHI Health, the department strives to grow and enhance surgical subspecialties  including Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Vascular, Surgical Oncology, Complex Abdominal Wall Hernia, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Minimally Invasive Surgery. This important clinical  growth strategy will be in tandem with focus on access to, quality of, and outcomes of surgical care. 

Creighton Department of Surgery is committed to advancing the lives of the communities that we serve  through scientific endeavors and mentorship of the inquisitive minds in surgery. Building upon ongoing  research lines in foregut and esophageal surgery, abdominal wall hernia, and trauma, the department  will continue to expand in areas of health service research (aka surgical outcomes) targeting key questions relevant to surgical patients overall and especially focusing on three areas: the under-served,  rural populations, and under-represented minorities. These research lines are mission critical to Creighton University and CHI Health. Recently, Creighton Department of Surgery received a $3M multi-PI NIH grant from the NIMHD on leveraging Artificial Intelligence on disparities in cancer surgery outcomes. Also, and in collaboration with Creighton University and CHI research programs, we will launch various initiatives through recruitments, research fellowships, and webinars —just to name a few  —to faculty and residents who are interested in promoting their careers in academic surgery.

Our residency, the Crown Jewel of the Department of Surgery, is well known for its legacy to train highly  effective and competent general surgeons who are ready to embark in the real world to academic or  community urban and/or rural settings. To build on this accolade and to differentiate our Crown Jewel  from others, it is also imperative that we grow and enhance our academic rigor and research initiatives,  develop innovative opportunities, continue to build a community of inclusivity, and prepare our  residents as leaders in their field. I am excited to share with you that the Department of Surgery has  launched The Inaugural Chief Resident Leadership and Coaching Program in partnership with the  Creighton Heider College of Business. By integrating this important growth curriculum for senior  residents, we continue to prepare graduates of the Crown Jewel to serve as leaders in their domain.  Also, we will offer an optional one to two year-long in-house research fellowship to our surgery  residents in partnership with scientists across Creighton University.

Innovation will be a major part of our department and residency. I’m excited to report that significant  headway is being made in the buildup of the Creighton Simulation Laboratory Center. The Acquistion of a new XI Robot and future consideration of a Center for Innovation in Surgery will enhance learning  opportunities. The Center for Innovation will partner with other institutions and the industry, through extramural grant funding with experts in Artificial Intelligence, natural language processing and machine 
learning, to leverage these innovations in surgery and create opportunities for growth, research fellowship, and collaboration.

Inspired by Creighton’s ethos of “Cura Personalis”, Creighton Department of Surgery is committed to advancing the agenda of surgical equity to rural populations and under-represented minorities. This year  and in partnership with Dr. Scott Shipman and other key stakeholders, we will launch the Inaugural  Creighton-CHI “Promoting Equity in Rural Surgery” symposium as stepping-stones to inform our  institutional efforts to better surgical care, research, and education to our rural communities of surgical  patients. Similarly, innovative and research efforts to understand and mitigate the unmet surgical needs  of the underserved of our communities in Nebraska, its surrounding states, and globally via the  Creighton Global Surgery Program are important. 

The commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) is unwavering. It is imperative that we continue our DEI&B journey especially among women and underrepresented minorities within Surgery at Creighton and CHI Health. Recently, Creighton Department of Surgery  launched its inaugural DEI&B for Surgery initiative in partnership with Creighton Women in Medicine, Office of DEI&B, and the Heider College of Business. This important initiative will pay dividends in expanding our collective in building a larger surgical community of inclusivity, diversity and belonging. 

Thank you again for visiting Creighton and hope to see you soon!

With gratitude!

Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS
Chair of Surgery at Creighton University School of Medicine
Chair of Surgery at CHI Health
Omaha, NE

Contact Us

Creighton University Education Building
7710 Mercy Road, Suite 501
Omaha, Neb.

402.280.4792 (Verifications)
402.280.5292 (Dept. Secretary)