Today I went down to UCL main campus in London to attend INUGSC - International Undergraduate & Foundation Surgical Conference 2018. Left the house about 6.30, caught the 6.52 train (barely) and made my way to Marylebone. It was now raining (which I had not prepared for) but it was an easy walk across to UCL and I safely made it to registration.
We had to register for workshops about a week ago, and I ended up with Becoming A Surgeon, Basic Suturing and Advanced Suturing. Have come from a position of never having sutured before, I was unsure of the Advanced level session, but what the hey. The morning opened with lectures on the mesentery (which has now been reclassified as a single organ), whether going abroad to practise medicine is right for you, and the demystifying of plastic surgery. We then had some light refreshments and headed to the first workshop of the day.
For me that was 'Becoming A Surgeon', which was taught by a surgical trainee. It was meant to be taught by a consultant, but in typical fashion he had been called to an emergency. I think this was actually lucky, because Miss Bucknor took us through all the little things that make a big difference, and all the things you can do to help yourself while at medical school and in your foundation years.
My second workshop was 'Basic Suturing', which I really enjoyed. I've never seen or done any sort of suturing, but being taught by surgeons was a great way to get started. We were sewing up small lacerations in fleshy practice pads, and generally getting a feel for the instruments - suture needle holders are held between the thumb and ring finger and have a slight curve to them so they can be stabilised with your forefinger. It's essentially just sewing, but about six inches away from your actual hands.
Lunch followed, which was extremely generous in portion size, and then oral presentations from a few delegates followed - one of whom was a doctor I've met before. More lectures afterwards - 'Global and Paediatric Surgery' by Dr Neema Kaseje, and 'Training in Surgery (And Otolaryngology) by Prof B Nirmal Kumar.
Instead of going to Advanced Suturing, I opted to head over to a session being run by a small company called PROXIMIE - they produce software that allows augmented reality technology to be used to guide surgery and teach medical students. The idea is that in areas where there are few surgeons present, an experienced consultant halfway across the world could use their hand and voice to guide the procedure and improve outcomes. Very cool stuff, and exchanged details with the staff present - I love technology in education.
The Keynote lecture was given by Dr David Langer, a renowned US neurosurgeon who chose to focus his talk around patient satisfaction and developments in vascular neurosurgery. It might admittedly have just been because he was American, but his enthusiasm and passion for what he did shone through every second of the talk. It was a fantastic close to the day, and I went to the drinks reception afterwards to chat and promote this website a bit (so unashamed).
Good day all in all - apart from the 20 minute sprint across London to reach the station 30 minutes away. I learned a lot, met some fantastic people and made some new friends whom I hope to stay in contact with as we go through medical school together. Well done UCL Surgical Soc, with special mention to Claudia Eichenauer for organising the conference and keeping everything running smoothly.