11 December 2022

Dear Fellows and Members,

As the festive season approaches, I marvel at how quickly the first six months of my Presidency have passed and how busy the world has become now that we are travelling again and meeting in person. It has been a huge honour to represent RCSI on your behalf. I look forward to meeting many of you at the events we are planning for 2023.

On Thursday, 1 December I had the pleasure of welcoming renowned composer, producer and arranger Bill Whelan and his family to the annual council dinner where I awarded him an Honorary Fellowship of RCSI for his outstanding contributions to music and promotion of Irish music, dance and culture on the international stage, the highest distinction the College bestows.

This week we welcomed 132 new surgical Fellows and Members to our Winter Fellows, Members and Diplomates Conferring and I am proud and pleased that, for the second year in a row, one of our Irish surgical trainees, Danielle McLaughlin, received the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons (BAPS) medal, awarded by the Intercollegiate Board in Paediatric Surgery for outstanding performance at the Intercollegiate Specialty Examination in Paediatric Surgery, a wonderful achievement and testament to the excellent quality of RCSI training and the calibre of surgeons we nurture.

Charter Meeting 2023 takes place from Saturday, 28 January 2023 to Friday, 3 February 2023. The theme is ‘Shaping the Future’ and the programme includes symposia on ‘The Future of Surgery’ and ‘Technology for Surgeons and the Patient’. Registration is now open here.

The ‘Becoming a Standout Surgeon’ session will be held on Friday, 3 February as part of the Parallel Group III. This is our second year running a session that has been designed with our Affiliate Members in mind, including surgical trainees, medical students, foundation doctors, interns, NCHDs and anyone interested in a career in surgery. Professor David Healy will lead an informative and practical panel discussion offering guidance on becoming a standout surgical trainee candidate, focusing on the Core Surgical Training intake data from RCSI and the profiles of successful candidates. It will also cover career development advice, planning a surgical career, a surgical trainee’s perspective on how to successfully apply for Core Surgical Training and Higher Surgical Training, and the exciting opportunities available to support future surgeons to achieve their ambition. This session is close to my heart and certainly something I could have done with as I began my surgical career.

Recently, surgical teams – including nurses and theatre staff – took part in RCSI’s first ever robot-assisted surgery (RAS) training programmes, run in collaboration with Intuitive at the National Surgical and Clinical Skills Centre at RCSI. There is evidence that certain procedures deliver better patient outcomes when the procedure is conducted using robotic platforms. This workshop marks the beginning of robotic surgical training at RCSI. 

Our RCSI Centre for Positive Psychology and Health published a wonderful wellbeing book, Positive Health, in November, providing over 100 evidence-based activities for people to improve their health and wellbeing and decrease their risk of illness. I encourage you all to read it, as it is particularly valuable to those working in the healthcare sector.

Outside of RCSI, I was invited by Google Chief Health Officer Dr Karen DeSalvo to address the Google COMPASS Summit and had the great pleasure to share stories with her as women in healthcare leadership. I was amongst many great leaders at the event including Dr Sindy Joyce, indigenous Mincéir and lecturer in sociology; Aoife Martin, trans rights activist; and Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, writer and cultural consultant. It was a great honour to be asked and to represent RCSI at such a prestigious event.

Our next edition of Surgeons Scope is being published this week and will be sent to all Fellows and Members in Good Standing with lots of really interesting reading, including our regular ‘A Surgeon In’ feature with Professor Majella Doyle who reflects on her impressive career as a liver transplant surgeon and explains how, as “a home bird at heart”, she ended up in St Louis, Missouri. RCSI Fellow Dr Vivian McAlister goes ‘Back to the Beginning’, reflecting on his personal and professional journey, his role as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Forces Health Services and his experience of deployment to Afghanistan. This edition also includes a feature on Dr Fridah Bosire, the first woman to be awarded the Gerald O’Sullivan Medal for her outstanding COSECSA exam results. Fridah provides insights into her life as a surgeon in Kenya and there is much more.

Speaking of COSECSA, this week I travel to Namibia with seven other RCSI Fellows, including immediate past-President Professor Ronan O’Connell, where we will serve as Honorary Examiners for the annual Fellowship exams, taking place from 5-6 December. Immediately following, on 7 December, I will present the Gerald O'Sullivan medal to the 2022 winner. There will be 170 candidates who have trained with COSECSA in over 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa there to undergo clinical and viva exams. I also look forward to delivering a talk at the Women in Surgery Africa event on 8 December. A busy and fulfilling start to December.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday and I hope that 2023 brings you health and happiness.

With best wishes,

Professor Laura Viani
RCSI President