Professor Oscar Traynor, Dr Marie Morris, clinical tutors along with the simulation technicians and the administrative staff have jointly created a course that has overcome the apprentice-mentor form of traditional education-style in surgical training to simulation-based training.
One year of intense training in all aspects of surgical technical competencies (basic and advanced surgical skills, basic laparoscopic and open procedural skills), non-technical competencies (NOTSS, clinical handover, communication skills) with great emphasis on realms like professionalism, global surgery and research methodologies significantly impacts student learning and performance levels in their future clinical settings. As an aspiring surgeon, I jumped at the very first opportunity to secure my position for the 2021-22 academic year.
The idea of getting trained by specialist surgeons and getting feedback on my performances has greatly improved my overall confidence as a surgical trainee. A golden opportunity like this is quite rare in the real hospital setting with busy working environments and worrying patients. The course rightly pushes me to approach surgery in a more evidence-based style which has only added to my core clinical and surgical knowledge from medical school.
Communication is another important aspect of medicine which is critical in appropriate patient care. The structure of learning adequate clinical handover, upset patient protocol, breaking bad news, crisis management skills and leadership in the operating room to practicing these concepts with the help of simulated patients, in simulated OR’s alongside a practicing surgeon and nurse is a perfect scenario for any surgical trainee.
Professionalism in the 21st century is part of the educational modules covered in the course which sheds light on relationship with patients, colleagues, society, professional performance and ethical practice. The concepts of appropriate documentation, burnout, professional loyalty, inter-professional team-working, professional indemnity and elements of cultural awareness provided me with an opportunity to self-reflect and evolve as a medical professional. Global surgery and its implications was an eye opener which allowed me to better understand the need for better surgical facilities and improvements in low and middle-class income countries. Introduction to various global programmes like COSECSA, SURG-Africa in the course has definitely sparked interest in me to maybe pursue the same in the future after more surgical training.
It personally found the lessons on research methodologies extremely useful. Writing literature reviews, journal clubs, surgical forums, learning to use proper search strategies and basic concepts in research helped to keep myself updated in the surgical research field.
Similarly, simulated ward rounds conducted every week improved my overall preparedness level with positive impacts in interactions with simulated patients and inter-professional individuals, all pointing towards better patient outcome and care. Classes provided on surgical anatomy, pathology and physiology along with case based discussions definitely contributed to my preparations for the MRCS exam.
It is not just studies and professional training, other colleagues of mine and myself find time during the weekends to travel around this beautiful country of Ireland leading to the development of what we proudly call the ‘MSSP Travel Club’. This course has truly allowed me to realise my potential as a future surgeon. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the faculty and staff members who allowed me to become better and competent day after day during the course. I would also encourage any aspiring surgeons or trainees to utilise this opportunity in polishing and fine-tuning every skill required as a surgeon in this course.
Dr Midhun Mathew, MCh in Surgical Science and Practice, Class of 2022