Foundation for International Education in Neurosurgery: The Next Half-Century of Service Through Education


  • Ulrick Sidney Kanmounye Executive Board, International Student Surgical Network (InciSioN), Sint-Truiden, Belgium.
  • Nathan Shlobin Department of Neurological Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
  • Robert J Dempsey Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.
  • Gail Rosseau Department of Neurological Surgery, George Washington University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC, USA




The Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery (FIENS) was founded in 1969, decades before globalization became a worldwide phenomenon (1–3). Initially, efforts were focused on service delivery in under-resourced areas via short mission trips by individual neurosurgeons. The wisdom of furthering the impact by creating sustainable training programs in partnership with host organizations developed over time (3). FIENS  is a neurosurgeons foundation working in partnership with various organizations to increase global access to neurosurgery missions through the principle of “service through education (3).” FIENS shifted its focus from a service delivery-centered approach to an approach centered on global health systems strengthening by emphasizing local neurosurgery resident education and residency program development (3). It has become clear that the integration of neurosurgical efforts within the local health system amplifies the overall impact of FIENS initiatives by promoting sustainable change through collaborative action in the service of local health system goals. From this point forward, initiatives coordinated by FIENS incorporated local stakeholders and workforce in addition to mechanisms for service delivery, health infrastructure, information management, governance, and funding.

Additionally, FIENS-supported trainees expressed the need for ongoing support in the early stages of their careers. In response, the Foundation expanded its scope to include postgraduate education, evolved, as global health organizations must, understand that lasting impact occurs through teaching, leading to self-sustaining health systems in regions of need.