RCSI Surgical Bootcamp trains next generation of surgeons

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More than 80 surgical trainees have completed RCSI’s Surgical Bootcamp. Now in its eighth year, the intensive 40-hour course was developed to immerse surgical trainees in the technical and non-technical skills needed as a surgeon.

Over three weeks, this year's programme saw each core surgical trainee complete a week of training sessions in person at the National Surgical and Clinical Skills Centre at RCSI's 26 York Street, with additional online training.

RCSI published the PROGRESS: Promoting Gender Equality in Surgery report in 2017, identifying the complex barriers to female progression in surgery. Since its publication, the number of female candidates to surgical training continues to grow.

Ms Dara O'Keeffe, Simulation Lead in Postgraduate Surgical Education and Training at RCSI, said: "The surgical training programme seeks to recruit the best trainees, regardless of gender, based on a robust and transparent selection system. In 2017, 27% of successful applicants were female, but this has grown year on year. This year, 46% of core surgical trainees are female. As their training body, RCSI is committed to their success and to ensuring that surgery is a profession in which male and female doctors can thrive."

Surgical Bootcamp was supported by 40 RCSI faculty members from across the range of surgical specialties and emergency medicine. It was led by Ms Dara O'Keeffe; Professor Eva Doherty, Director of Human Factors in Patient Safety, RCSI; Dr Angela O'Dea, Senior Lecturer, RCSI Surgical Affairs; and Mr Donncha Ryan, Lead Technology Officer, RCSI Surgical Affairs, with technical support from the RCSI Simulation Department.

Ms O'Keefe said: "We are delighted that this year's Surgical Bootcamp has been a great success. Despite the ongoing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcomed 80 trainees to the programme, in groups of 16 over three weeks. The format of Surgical Bootcamp ensures close feedback and guidance as these trainees learn new skills essential to surgical practice."

Taught by experienced RCSI surgical faculty members in a high teacher-to-pupil ratio, key technical features of the programme included suturing, excision of skin lesions, bowel anastomosis and laparoscopic skills. Additional features of the programme focused on non-technical skills including communication for informed consent, teamwork and crisis management. The sessions were taught interactively with high-fidelity simulation.

"The welcomed increase of surgical trainees this year from 60 to 80 during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the introduction of new innovative asynchronous and synchronous teaching methods which will prepare our new cohort of trainees to start their first rotations in Core Surgical Training. Our ability to adapt to using new technologies has enabled us to deliver the full content without the quality being compromised due to public health guidelines," Ms O'Keefe continued.

Changes to this year's programme included delivering a portion of the didactic sessions remotely, while also livestreaming sessions such as decision-making and dealing with surgical problems using interactive learning platforms.