From Operating Theatre to Lecture Hall: The Head and Neck Surgeon Educating the Next Generation

In the high-stakes realm of head and neck surgery, the transition from the operating theatre to the lecture hall represents more than a change of venue; it signifies a transfer of knowledge, experience, and wisdom. 

Dr. Mariano Sorrentino, a leading figure in this field, embodies this transition, extending his expertise beyond the operating room to mold the next generation of surgeons.

Born and educated in Argentina, Dr. Sorrentino’s medical journey is a blend of relentless pursuit of surgical excellence and a profound commitment to education: “The journey of a surgeon is perpetual. We learn, we apply, and then we pass on our knowledge,” Dr. Sorrentino remarks. 

This philosophy has been the cornerstone of his career, guiding his steps from clinical practice to academic mentorship.

Dr. Sorrentino embarked on his medical journey at the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine, where he earned his Doctorate in Medicine. 

His pursuit of surgical expertise led him to complete his General Surgery Residency at the same institution, followed by a Chief Surgical Resident position. His desire for head and neck surgery specialisation took shape with a fellowship at Marie Curie Oncologic Hospital in Buenos Aires.

Dr. Sorrentino’s academic pursuits have been marked by impressive scores on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the acquisition of the ECFMG certificate. 

These accomplishments opened the door to further specialization in Head and Neck Surgical Oncology at Advent Health in Florida, where he refined his skills in Microvascular Surgery and Trans-oral robotic surgery.

Dr. Sorrentino says: “When I think about the common perception of surgeons as detached or unengaged with patients’ emotions, I have to say that’s far from who I am. I take pride in nurturing a strong patient-doctor relationship. 

“This connection might stem from my Hispanic heritage, which instils a warmth and willingness to engage with others on an emotional and physical level.”

He adds: “I believe this aspect of my character doesn’t compromise my objectivity during surgery; in fact, I think it enhances patient outcomes. A patient who knows and trusts their surgeon is more confident and relaxed, which is beneficial for both of us.”

Dr. Sorrentino’s skills in the operating theatre are exemplary. Known for his precision in complex head and neck procedures, he has redefined surgical boundaries. “Surgery, especially in our field, is an intricate ballet of skill, knowledge, and intuition,” he explains. 

“My surgical training spans across different eras and styles, having completed it first in 2009 and then again in 2024,” says Dr. Sorrentino. 

“Surgery evolves rapidly, and this has given me the unique advantage of being shaped by two distinct generations of surgeons—the practice-oriented and the academically inclined. I consider myself a blend of these two philosophies, which endows me with a versatile surgical approach,” he adds.

Having extensive experience in open surgery and currently practising robotic and laparoscopic surgery, Dr. Sorrentino believes his background in traditional techniques offers me a deepened understanding and visualization of anatomy that many may not have. 

“I’ve worked with procedures that, though now often replaced by minimally invasive methods, are crucial when such techniques are called for,” the surgeon says.

“This versatility and comfort in conventional and advanced surgical methods may be considered exceptional by some, but for me, it’s simply my foundation.”

There is no doubt Dr. Sorrentino’s experience is broad and varied: “I’ve been a trauma surgeon in a high-risk environment, dealing with severe trauma and gunshot wounds, which has significantly heightened my stress threshold,” he says.

“This range of experiences, from both hemispheres and various surgical philosophies, is like a martial artist mastering multiple disciplines.”

Dr. Sorrentino likens himself to a fighter who knows not just karate and jujitsu but also an obscure martial art from Indonesia, bringing a unique set of capabilities to the table: “I think my eclectic background is what sets me apart in the field of surgery,” he says.

“Integrity is non-negotiable in my practice, and empathy is a cornerstone for me. Having been a patient myself at a young age, when I had an ear operation, I understand the importance of putting oneself in the patient’s shoes. Without empathy, one simply can’t serve effectively in healthcare.”

Regarding education, Dr. Sorrentino brings the same passion and precision to the lecture hall; “Teaching is not just about imparting knowledge; it’s about inspiring a new way of thinking and approaching problems,” he says. His lectures and seminars are a deep dive into the nuances of head and neck surgery, blending theory with real-world experience.

Dr. Sorrentino says, “Responsibility and a touch of perfectionism guide me; I’m driven to continuously learn and refine my skills. Explaining my dedication, I emphasize my focus on unlearned areas during my first residency. As I revisit residency and continue to teach and educate, my goal isn’t to repeat what I already know but to absorb new knowledge, even from familiar procedures. I dissect every move a surgeon makes, seeking ways to enhance my own techniques.”

Dr. Sorrentino’s mentorship extends beyond the technical aspects of surgery. 

He emphasizes the importance of empathy, communication, and ethical practice: “A good surgeon is not just skilled with their hands but also with their heart. Understanding patients, their fears and hopes, is crucial,” he advises.

“I think my patients feel comfortable with my warm approach to their problems. I’m formal, but I also show them that I care. In turn, they feel comfortable sharing with me; I believe they feel secure.”

In the field of surgical education, Dr. Sorrentino has been a pioneer, incorporating innovative teaching methods, including simulation-based training and virtual reality. “The future of surgical training lies in embracing technology, allowing trainees to experience and learn from virtual scenarios,” he suggests.

With a natural inclination towards education, Dr. Sorrentino served as a Pharmacology Teaching Assistant at the University of Buenos Aires, where he led research initiatives and taught with a passion that earned him a role based on top-percentile examination performance. 

As a professor at Universidad Abierta Interamericana and Universidad de Buenos Aires, he has shared his clinical wisdom with medical students.

Dr. Sorrentino conducted comprehensive classroom teaching for General Surgery, integrating innovative teaching methods to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes.

He also developed and implemented evaluation methods to assess student progress and understanding, ensuring academic rigor and alignment with learning objectives.

Dr. Sorrentino also personalized mentoring and guidance for students, fostering their academic and professional development and improving their performance and satisfaction.

His expertise in Trans-oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) has also seen him develop a curriculum for the Argentinian Association of Surgery and create surgical instructional videos for the Liverpool Head and Neck Center. 

His work as a faculty assistant for Dr. Scot Magnuson in the Transoral Robotic Surgery Course at AdventHealth has further solidified his role as an educator and innovator in surgery.

A firm believer in continuous learning, Dr. Sorrentino actively engages in research, contributing to advancements in his field. “Medicine evolves constantly. As educators, we must stay abreast of these changes and integrate them into our teaching,” he notes.

Dr. Sorrentino has contributed to 11 papers and led six training courses.

Recognized for his engaging lectures on surgical topics the surgeon was honored to present a lecture at Hospital Adventista de Entre Rios Grand Rounds, showcasing expertise in transoral robotic surgery (TORS) and introducing new technologies to general surgery residents.

Dr. Sorrentino also delivered a lecture at Hospital Rivadavia de Buenos Aires Grand Rounds, focusing on transoral robotic surgery (TORS) and the introduction of novel technologies to general surgery residents.

Balancing a demanding clinical practice with an academic career is no small feat. He views this as a synergistic relationship: “My experiences in the operating room enrich my teaching, and educating young minds brings fresh perspectives to my clinical work,” he describes.

Dr. Jorge H. Lanatta, MAAC, is the Chief Guard with Extraordinary Functions of the María Curié Municipal Oncological Hospital in  Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

He is also the Hierarchical Specialist in Surgical Clinic of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He has known Dr. Sorrentino for over 10 years since he joined as a specialist in General Surgery, and Head and Neck as a subspecialty at the 

Hospital General de Agudos Dr. Enrique Tornu, University of Buenos Aires, School of Medicine.

He is also the Hierarchical Specialist in Surgical Clinic of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Dr. Lanatta says: “I have seen Dr. Sorrentino work with patients with surgical pathologies that are difficult to address. These include individuals who have presented tumor diseases.

“Dr. Sorrentino enabled them to overcome their symptoms and experience a fantastic trajectory and good evolution of recovery as well as the best possible quality of life.”

Dr. Lanatta adds, “He marries this surgical skill with honesty and empathy. He is also exceptionally punctual and continuously learns to understand how to resolve complex pathologies. 

“Dr. Sorrentino is also committed to educating others and enabling them to improve their own skills so they can excel.”

Dr. Scott Magnuson, MD, is an Otolaryngologist, head and neck surgeon, at Advent Health, Orlando, Florida.

He met Dr. Sorrentino when the surgeon participated in a travel observation fellowship program in the U.S. to observe cancer surgery. After returning to Argentina, Dr. Sorrentino applied for an international spot in the Advent Health American Head and Neck Society fellowship program. 

He says: “Dr. Sorrentino is passionate about surgery, a trait that was clear from his attitude and eagerness to learn and understand more during his observation. 

“He was keen to expand his scope beyond what was possible in Argentina. In Orlando, Dr. Sorrentino was particularly helpful with our Spanish-speaking patients. Despite not being the primary physician, patients were drawn to him because of his approachability and language skills. They saw him as their primary doctor, a role he handled respectfully and professionally.”

Dr. Magnuson adds: “Dr. Sorrentino is exceptionally respectful and maintains a positive demeanor. His unique curiosity and responsibility endeared him to everyone he worked with.” 

Dr. Sorrentino’s legacy transcends his surgical achievements; it lies in the wisdom he imparts to aspiring surgeons.

In a career marked by remarkable surgical feats and educational excellence, he is a testament to the powerful impact of a surgeon-educator.

As he rightly puts it: “The true measure of our success lies in the successes of those we teach.”


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