7 December 2023

Dear RCSI community,

As the festive season approaches, I am amazed at how quickly my presidency is passing and what a productive year 2023 has been. It has been a huge honour to represent RCSI on your behalf and I look forward to meeting many of you at the events we are planning for 2024.

November has been a special month in RCSI, with the commencement of the conferring ceremonies in the Convention Centre and on our St Stephen’s Green campus. It is always wonderful to celebrate with our students. We share their happiness and excitement, and we remember the importance of what we do, day after day, in preparing them for their careers in healthcare and health sciences.

This week we welcomed 156 new surgical Fellows and Members to our Winter Fellows, Members and Diplomates Conferring, a wonderful achievement for everyone and testament to the excellent quality of RCSI training and the calibre of surgeons we nurture.

This year I have enjoyed many opportunities to meet with you both at home in Ireland and abroad. With a global professional network of over 11,000 Fellows and Members in 89 countries, we are all too familiar with the major challenges facing healthcare delivery around the world, and I am privileged, as your President, to represent you and advocate on your behalf on the issues that impact us all.

It has been a very busy year in the College, and we have made much progress. We have seen a rapid rise in technological-enhanced surgery and AI. Robotic Surgery and training are now becoming the norm across medical hospitals and institutions around the world. RCSI, in partnership with the International Medical Robotics Academy (IMRA), recently announced a unique online robotics course, the ‘Foundations of Robotics’. Developed by surgeons for surgeons, its curriculum is delivered using virtual reality, 3D videos, simulators and advanced synthetic organ models. We intend to offer global access to this online robotic surgery course to doctors around the world.

The issue of gender parity among consultant surgeons has been of particular importance to me during my Presidency, and RCSI has made major strides in the promotion of diversity and gender equality. It gives me particular pleasure to report that the proportion of female candidates joining the National Surgical Training Programme has increased from 27% in 2017 to 48% this year, and applications came from 34 different nationalities, up from just 12 in 2017, which shows great progress.

We continue to deliver exceptional postgraduate surgical education and training and medical education programmes and our surgeons, male and female, hold leading positions in institutions around the world. RCSI is committed to supporting doctors worldwide in reaching their full potential and we will continue to expand our relationships with global medical institutions for the benefit of patient care.

As we strive to make patient care safer worldwide, we have become one of the leading institutions globally in the field of Human Factors in Patient Safety. Interprofessional learning has been the driver of our online Human Factors in Patient Safety programme, and it fits the needs of our global network of busy healthcare professionals. Online education has allowed us to expand into 30 countries, teaching the importance of non-technical skills to create positive change in practice. On the subject of Human Factors, a wonderful new human factors in healthcare podcast series recently produced focuses on key issues within modern healthcare delivery, hearing from leading experts and examining important lessons in patient safety. The first two episodes of the Safe and Sound podcast are available to listen to now on Spotify and Apple podcast platforms. Episodes will launch on the last Tuesday of every month.

RCSI recently launched the strategic plan for 2023-2027. Outlining how we will fulfil our mission to ‘Educate, Nurture and Discover for the Benefit of Human Health’, it is a roadmap for the next five years, uniting the RCSI community in supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals – with a particular focus on good health and wellbeing. This strategy is particularly fitting at a time when RCSI is the highest-ranked institution in the world for impact on health and wellbeing. It is very exciting to see the ambitious plans set out in this new strategy, and I look forward to seeing its impact over the coming five years.

With the rapid growth of the MRCS Examinations, RCSI now delivers the Part A examination to over 65 countries. This demonstrates our dedication to helping our global surgical community reach their full potential. As we expand our MRCS Part A numbers, we have developed multiple supports for exam candidates so that aspiring surgeons can strive towards career success.RCSI recently announced the official agreement with the Armed Forces College of Medicine (AFCM), Cairo, Egypt for the delivery of the MRCS Part B examinations. The facilities within the AFCM in Cairo are truly outstanding and will provide our ever-growing global candidates an opportunity to sit the MRCS examinations worldwide.

On Friday, 10 November we held the first stand alone Millin Meeting since 2019 and the event was a great success. It saw various presentations and talks on surgical trials, surgical training and a keynote lecture on breast cancer and breast cancer care equity from Mr Mike McKirdy, President, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The 46th Millin Lecture was delivered by Mr Michael Eamon Kelly, FRCSI PhD, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute, St James’s Hospital, Dublin.

On the day, we also celebrated Mr John Alexander Matheson, Orthopaedic Surgeon, New Zealand and Mr Mike McKirdy, who were conferred as Honorary Fellows of RCSI, in recognition of their outstanding achievements throughout their respective careers in surgery.

We now look forward to Charter Week taking place from 6 to 9 February, with a theme that resonates with us all I think – ‘Rising to Challenges in a Changing World’. We have a wonderful programme in store and I warmly invite and encourage you to attend. You can register here

More than ever now it is so important that we remain connected, encouraging conversations and ensuring a diverse voice and global representation. These conversations will guide us and ensure that we are focused on the issues of greatest concern to our global community.

Surgeons Scope and our monthly Surgical Bulletin newsletter are a wonderful means of communication with leaders and innovators in healthcare around the world. We seek out and look forward to featuring stories of innovation and inspiration from RCSI Fellows and Members who are making a difference every day. The latest issue of Surgeons Scope is just out and on its way to you and I hope you enjoy this issue, which reflects the work of wonderful, talented surgeons, exciting collaborations and innovation, and our continued commitment to better healthcare delivery.

Speaking of collaborations, Every Branch of the Healing Art, the new history of RCSI, written by our colleague Dr Ronan Kelly, was launched by Dr Mary McAleese in November, just in time for Christmas. A beautifully produced book, it explores RCSI’s national and international impact as a trailblazer in surgical and health sciences education, its legacy of driving global improvements in human health and maps its journey to becoming Ireland’s first health sciences university. The book also sheds new light on periods of huge social change and unrest, exploring RCSI’s journey through two World Wars, the 1916 Rising, right up to its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the second that the institution has endured. Every Branch of the Healing Art is available to purchase now here.

Since being elected President of RCSI, with your support we have made much progress and I have the utmost confidence that, working together, we can continue to contribute positively to health science education and delivery in the coming years.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday and I hope that 2024 brings you health and happiness. 

With thanks and best wishes,

Professor Laura Viani

RCSI President


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