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Many of the world's top surgeons will attend the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) conference that will draw 2,000 to the Salt Palace April 2 through April 5.

In addition to dozens of seminars designed to educate surgeons on the latest general, upper GI, colorectal, endoscopic, robotic and minimally invasive surgery techniques, the group also has planned several outreach programs to the local community.

These include a Mini-Medical School scheduled April 5 that is open to any high school student curious to know if he or she has what it takes to make it as a surgeon. The Mini Medical School Boot Camp and Interactive Experience will run from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Students will learn about the field of surgery through lecture and simulation so they can appreciate what working in an operating room is like. The program includes classroom lectures, tours of the SAGES conference learning center and exhibit hall and culminates with the "Top Gun Interactive Experience," a power-packed hour featuring video games and robotic helicopters that allow students to show off their skills.

"With projected physician and surgeon shortages in the future, we hope this timely program will promote early decisions to join the profession," said Dr. James Butch Rosser, Mini-Med School Session Chair and a general surgeon at Florida Hospital Celebration Health.

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The group will also hold a Military Surgical Symposium April 3 and 4, the first of its kind designed to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of current and ongoing military and military-relevant research, along with educational topics of relevance to the military surgical community.

Those attending the meeting also plan to volunteer at the Utah Food Bank and Salt Lake Valley Habitat for Humanity.

SAGES was founded 30 years ago with the mission of improving quality patient care through education, research, innovation and leadership, principally in gastrointestinal and endoscopic surgery. It represents a worldwide community of 6,000 surgeons.

The conference includes lectures by experts on new surgical techniques, an exploration of innovation technology and medical breakthroughs.

"The Sages scientific program for 2014 focuses on relevant clinical problems that busy surgeons encounter every day in their respective practices, including the management of complications, approaches for reoperative surgical cases and laparoscopy in the acute care setting," said Dr. Tonia Young Fadok, SAGES annual meeting co-chair and chair of the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

Sallie Matthews, SAGES executive director, called Salt Lake City an ideal location for the meeting and praised the convention center because it allows surgical sessions to be held in close proximity to the exhibitor hall.

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