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Surgical safety

Cambridge MBA student Taylor Ottesen (MBA 2019) launches Global Scalpels podcast to focus on the billions of people who lack access to safe and affordable surgery.

Close-up of hand of doctor holding scalpel.
Taylor Ottesen.
Taylor Ottesen

An MBA student at Cambridge Judge Business School, Taylor Ottesen (MBA 2019), is co-creator of a new podcast, Global Scalpels, that focuses on the five billion people around the world who lack access to safe and affordable surgery.

The podcast launched earlier this year has nine episodes available so far, looking at such subjects as the lingering effects of colonialism in global health, the role of non-clinicians in global surgery, healthcare disparity, and educational outreach.

Global Scalpels was created by Taylor Ottesen and Riana Patel, a surgical trainee in the UK.

“The podcast is meant for medical and non-medical professionals alike. It aims to highlight people doing new and innovative things in the field of global surgery – whether that is a new tech invention or advocacy for an issue,” says Taylor, a fourth-year medical student at Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut who is currently completing his Cambridge MBA summer project.

He works with several organisations on issues relating to healthcare access, including the World Health Organization, National Health Service in the UK, and Doctors Without Borders.

The podcasts are available on the Global Scalpels website as well as platforms such as Spotify, Google Play, YouTube, and Apple Podcasts. So far, people from more than 40 countries including Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Australia have downloaded the podcasts.

Guests on the podcasts have included Walter Ulrich, President and CEO of Medical Bridges, Dr Jacquelyn Corely, a neurosurgeon based at Duke University, and Dr Mahmoud Hariri, a Syrian war surgeon.

Topics so far include gender equality in surgery, logistics of performing surgery in the Syrian war zone, and disaster relief surgical training for large organisations like the United Nations and US Army. Future episodes include entrepreneurial ventures in surgery and the charity Mercy Ships.

Taylor was already a training surgeon when he decided to do his MBA in Cambridge, which reflected “a desire to better understand systems-based thinking and healthcare more broadly to be more informed on how I could help to expand surgical access on a global level.”

A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Taylor says one major reason billions of people lack safe and affordable surgical care is due to “poor administrative execution and misalignment with clinicians, and felt an MBA would help me to bridge those gaps.”

He chose Cambridge “because I wanted a global experience where I could learn from classmates and professors from around the world. I also wanted an opportunity to get outside my comfort zone and experience a new education system, new medical system, and to learn to approach problems in different ways.”