Most medical schools around the UK lack adequate surgical skills teaching. As a result, anyone wishing to learn basic suturing and knot tying is forced to look for opportunities outside of their regular classes. This is a situation that turned us both to ESSS for experience and from thereon out, we’ve improved our skills from both inside and outside of the society. Below, we outline some tips on how to build on your surgical skills as an undergraduate medical student from our personal experience.
Last year I completed my intercalated degree in Surgical Sciences and I could not recommend it more to anyone interested in surgery! In this blog I hope to give you some insight into what the degree is like and how to make the most of it.
Mr J. N. Alastair Gibson, Honorary Treasurer at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), shares an insight into the history, institution, and membership of the RCSEd.
His interview can be found below:
Have you ever wondered about the untaught, 'soft' skills of surgery? This week's article, written by newly-elected ESSS Senior Vice President, Aya, provides advice on achieving important skills such as Networking and Data Handling.
Aya is a third-year medical student at the University of Edinburgh, currently undertaking a BMedSci in Surgical Sciences. She has interests in academic surgery, global health and medical informatics and has recently been awarded the RCS Intercalated Bachelor of Science Degree in Surgery Grant for her dissertation with Edinburgh Surgical Informatics team. She is the Edinburgh Regional Lead for the STARSurg research collaborative and is involved in various student societies including being Vice Convenor of the Medical Students Council and Senior Vice President of the Edinburgh Student Surgical Society. Here's what she had to say...
As medical students interested in surgery, we all try to do well in exams, practice our surgical skills and get involved in some research. What I recently realised is that there is a whole set of “soft” skills that are not immediately associated with surgery but nonetheless very helpful. A blog post could be written on each of these, but below is a brief list of what they are and some ideas on how to work on them.
**As a medical student I am in no way an authority on what skills you need; so this is just a reflection of my personal experiences, opinions and things I may have benefited from knowing earlier. **
We asked Edinburgh Fourth Year and ESSS Vice-President William Cambridge about getting involved in research at Medical School.
William has interests in Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Surgery, Transplantation and Surgical Oncology. He has published research (Annals of Surgery), and presented at several conferences and symposia, for which he was awarded winner of the Oral Presentations at The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Student and Foundation Years Research Symposium.
In 2018/19, William was awarded 'Most Distinguished Scholar Prize’ for Health Sciences.
Here's what he had to say...
*Disclaimer: All of the advice provided here relates to things I’ve experienced; it may be incorrect and, like everything else in medicine, do not take it as gospel.
Mr Jamie Nicholson: Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery
The 2020 Surgical Spotlight Series is a monthly blog article in which Edinburgh-based surgeons shed light on their surgical specialty and daily life. Our aim is to educate students about each of the various specialties and the array of opportunities they bring.
In March, we interviewed Mr Jamie Nicholson, a Senior Registrar at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. He was the previous module organiser of the Undergraduate T&O block for Edinburgh University during 2017-2019.
We asked Edinburgh Sixth Year and ESSS president Andrew Clelland about his top tips for students interested in pursuing surgery. Here's what he had to say...
Final year of med school represents an exciting time of change but is a marathon with possible academic foundation job applications, the judgement test, finals and of course your elective! This means that most of your experience in surgery will likely have to come before this time as there is less time once working as a junior doctor. So this post will hopefully provide some useful tips for budding surgeons keen to get the most out of their time in medical school!
*Disclaimer: before reading, this list is not exhaustive, nor is it intended to be a checklist which you must frantically complete! Read it, have a think, set your goals and chat to someone about how you’re going to take things forward.
Professor Marson has an interest in renal transplantation, both in the context of living and deceased donation. She is also involved in the pancreas transplant programme.
From 2017-19, Professor Marson held the position of President of the British Transplantation Society, and was awarded a Personal Chair in Transplant Surgery in August 2018. Having worked as a Senior Lecturer (2004-15) and Reader (2015-18), Professor Marson is now Director of Admissions for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
The interview can be found below:
What led you to choose the specialty?
I had planned a more sensible choice, but I love the technical aspects of transplant surgery, the fascinating immunology and, in particular, the ethical challenges. I also love the team.
Describe a typical day in your life.
One of the things I love about my job is that I don’t have a typical day, as I also work for the university. Clinically there is a ward round every morning, and I do a live donor kidney transplant once a week. I also work in assessment clinics and we have weekly multidisciplinary meetings, for both living donors and transplant recipients.
Outside of work, I love spending time with my family, we are all mad about exercise, so I like running and cycling. Plan to take part in a triathlon this year. I also like reading, and relaxing.
How intensive is your work schedule?
Transplant surgery is intensive, when I am on call. I can be up all night operating, and if not, I usually get a lot of phone calls overnight. This is to discuss organ offers, to decide whether to accept an organ for a particular patient.
Favourite things about your specialty?
Transplantation is a miracle for people. We transform people’s lives through the work we do and that is humbling and rewarding
Highlights of your career?
I was elected President of the British Transplantation Society, by my peers and colleagues. That was very rewarding.
I was promoted to Professor in Transplant Surgery, which was also a real honour. I wish my Dad had been alive to see that, he would have been very proud.
What challenges do you face?
I have faced challenges as a woman in surgery, particularly trying to balance my family and my work. But my children are grown up, I am very proud of them and relieved they are such great people.
Sometimes it has felt that I have missed out on some of the “boys’ club”, but on balance, I am proud of having achieved what I have done whilst not losing a sense of myself.
Any advice for medical students?
If you feel passionate about a career, go for it. Don’t listen too much to people trying to put you off. Take on board their comments, but follow your own heart.
What attributes are best suited to your specialty?
Resilience is a major part of it. And a sense of humour. Always be kind and friendly to be people around you, whoever they are.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I had two main mentors in my training, who were there at a time when I needed direction and support. One who was there when I decided to pursue a career in general surgery, the other inspired to be a transplant surgeon. Both are male.
ESSS would like to thank Professor Lorna Marson for her co-operation in the production of this article.