RCSEd National Student Surgical Skills Competition Finalists 2016-2017

Jonathan Strickland
University of Aberdeen  Aberdeen

"It was wonderful surprise to have made it through after an afternoon working with some fantastic surgeons and other students. I feel proud to have had people for whom I have such high respect, praise me for my surgical skills.
It was clear from the off that this was not just a test of surgical skills but a way to advance them. At this stage we are still a fair way from becoming surgeons and thus our knowledge and skills need this opportunity to grow. It was great to have people on hand to answer questions."

Conor Aldworth
Queen's University Belfast Northern Ireland "I was initially quite surprised but am truly delighted to have made it through to the final. I felt there were a lot of strong candidates at the Belfast heat, all the participants in my circuit appeared to be sailing through the tasks so I really was not expecting to hear my name when the winner was announced. However, winning the heat has given me great confidence and motivation to compete in the final. I wish to pursue a career in Orthopaedic surgery and I hope that my success in the competition reflects some aptitude for this. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is a world renowned organisation with a reputation for excellence in surgical practice. Making it through to the final of an RCSEd competition will undoubtedly be a strong addition to my CV that will hopefully attract the attention of interviewers when applying for a surgical training programme."
Chris Barr
University of Bristol  Bristol

"Winning a competition like this, as an undergraduate, would have fantastic CV boosting prospects. I'm very committed to a career in surgery and I hope that getting involved in events like this shows that commitment. I think it's really fantastic that everyone who came gets affiliate membership and a certificate as that will really show interest in a surgical career started early whilst still at medical school."

Charlotte Maden

Cardiff University Cardiff  
Alex North
University of Dundee East of Scotland "It was a great experience overall. It was fantastic to witness the high standard of surgical skills on show from the students at Dundee University, and it is a testament to the surgical professionals who enthusiastically give their time, and also to the surgical society (DUSS) who run many great events to engage students in surgical teaching.  I was surprised to win, it hadn’t really occurred to me that I would have a chance of qualifying for the final from a heat of such talented individuals."
Ben Jones

Brighton and Sussex Medical School Eastbourne

"I’m looking forward to going to Edinburgh for the Final. It’s really encouraging to have won as I’ve always felt deficient in basic skills like suturing and knot tying so I’ve got more confidence to be a junior doctor in A&E now!
I really enjoyed taking part. It was fun, lots of other students on my rotation block went together as a group but once we got into it my competitive nature took over. The laparoscopy station was really tricky, I haven’t had any experience of that before and found it frustrating. I have a new appreciation for performing whole operations in that way."

Deep Sarode

University of Edinburgh Edinburgh

"I thoroughly enjoyed this experience as it allowed me to become more comfortable with the wide variety of skills taught and tested. The staff and other competitors were extremely friendly and this helped to create a relaxed learning atmosphere. Some tasks were definitely very challenging, though I feel that learning through experience is a great way of picking up and developing skills.
I think this competition as a whole is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate interest in a surgical career. Reaching the Final has not only helped to bolster my portfolio for future applications to surgical posts but has also further developed my passion to pursue a career in surgery. I feel that the learning points I take from participating in the Final will be invaluable for my early career."

Sophia Nemer

University of Glasgow  Glasgow

"It is fantastic to have the opportunity to compete in the final. I was very surprised at winning the Regional Heat as there were many strong participants but I am very much looking forward to seeing what challenging tasks the final brings.
It was a great evening with a range of tasks to complete. It was both fun and challenging and great to see so many surgical professionals dedicating their evening to teaching students.
Participating in the Regional Heat really brought out my keenness and enthusiasm for surgery, and making it through to the final will further emphasise this. It also hopefully demonstrates a competency for the skills I would need for my future career in surgery.
Affiliating with such a prestigious College offers a great opportunity to be informed of the various goings-on, including training and events and is a fantastic way to get to know others in the surgical field."

Niamh Brady
University of Manchester  Lancashire

"I feel very lucky to have made it through to the final as it is a singular opportunity to gain hands on experience. I found the experience of competing in the regional round a fascinating and engaging experience. This experience will greatly help me gain insight into what a surgical career entails. Affiliating with the College will be a fantastic way to be part of a prestigious network which has already provided me with a unique experience. Being in with a chance in the final is a very exciting prospect."

Marina Ransome

University of Leicester Leicester

"I am very pleased, I did not expect to do anywhere near as well as I did and was actually attending the competition as a learning opportunity. I found certain aspects of the competition challenging, the laparoscopic station in particular got my heart going. It was an excellent opportunity to experience a little bit of what laparoscopic surgery is like.
It is an excellent addition to my CV as it shows my interest and passion, as well as some aptitude for basic surgical skills. I feel it will be beneficial to have regular contact with the College about courses and opportunities via email. I am also very pleased to have access to the Acland Anatomy resource which will be invaluable in my revision for finals.
I am incredibly excited about this opportunity. It is an experience of a lifetime for an aspiring surgeon and I am so grateful to the College for offering it as it is something I would never be able to come by on my own."

Jack Gao

King's College London  London

"I am both excited and surprised to have secured a place in the final round of the Surgical Skills Competition. I initially entered the competition because it sounded like an interesting experience, offering me the opportunity to practise skills that I would not encounter as frequently at medical school. Attending the final round will offer me the privilege of challenging myself further with new experiences as well as allowing me to visit the beautiful and historic city of Edinburgh.
I have only ever watched videos about robotic surgery, so the opportunity to experience such a new and different technique would be exciting as this is a developing area in surgery."

 Dan Pearson

University of Liverpool  Mersey "It was a complete shock to me to make it to the final of the Surgical Skills Competition. This experience has certainly given me confidence in my surgical skills and stokes the motivation to one day become a surgeon. I feel that this competition would definitely enhance the C.V. of any application received for a surgical post in the future.  It would be wonderful to achieve this and to have the rare opportunity to demonstrate both your hands-on skills and your passion for a career in surgery."
Rashpal Singh Reehal

Newcastle University  North of England "I know a few of the other participants and knew that they were very skilled; we did a laproscopic skills competition at Newcastle University in April of this year, which I won by a narrow margin. From this, I knew that those guys and girls would come in strong, so I wasn’t really expecting to win. To make it through to the finals means a lot to me and I’m very proud of the achievement."
Lynn Zheng

Cambridge University  Norwich

"I was impressed by the high quality of all the competitors at the East of England heats and therefore it was a real surprise to be awarded first place. I am delighted to be able to represent Cambridge in the nationals and am looking forward to meeting other students with similar interests from around the country who I am sure will be among my colleagues one day!
Although initially doubtful I would be able to pick up new surgical skills within the space of 10-15 minute stations, thanks to the attentive instruction of surgical trainees and consultants from East Anglia, I felt I was able to learn a lot (and at high speed!) through the course of the day and pick up some useful practical tips which I am sure will come in use in theatre! I would have no hesitation in recommending the day to all medical students with any level of interest in surgery, it was above all a great opportunity to learn and practice some new surgical skills, receive advice about surgical FY jobs and deaneries from the instructors - and there is always a chance you might do better than you expected!"

Eirion Slade

Oxford University  Oxford

"Surgeons have a unique privilege in being able to make a huge difference to the lives of their patients with a single operation. It was this that drove me to abandon a promising career in physics and spend another four years studying to become a doctor. In such circumstances, it was natural to be a little anxious about my innate ability in the skill that I staked my career on. It is therefore an enormous relief to have my surgical skills validated, and be given the opportunity to develop them further, especially in a competitive context."

Conor Jones

Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry Plymouth

"It is a real honour to have made it through to the final of this competition. I am excited to meet the other finalists and look forward to whatever challenges await us in the final.
On behalf of everyone who took part in the Peninsula heat, I would like to thank the faculty for giving up their time to make the event so enjoyable. I felt that the heat was well organised and tested an appropriate range of technical and non-technical skills. I feel that this competition not only helps to strengthen my CV, but also serves as a unique opportunity to test my skills in a competitive, yet encouraging, environment. I hope that making it through to the final will demonstrate my potential to future employers.
I find robotic surgery fascinating and therefore look forward to the opportunity to compete for a place on the Medtronic Minimal Invasive Robotic Experience."

Christian Grimes
University of Southampton  Southampton

"I had some experience in performing basic surgical skills before, so the practical aspects of the competition were really enjoyable and allowed me to relax a little. However, the NOTSS section was unusual and pretty challenging, relying on keeping calm under pressure.
Any application to a surgical specialty will ask about your achievements in local, national or international competitions. Those that have taken the effort to compete, or even better win, a competition demonstrates a commitment (and maybe even an enjoyment!) to learning and practising skills in the surgical trade.
Before this competition, I had never heard of such an experience. Only the very enthusiastic or specialist surgeon gets the chance to experience training in robotic surgery, let alone a final year medical student. The experience would be a very exciting one."

Zach Shellman 
Keele University West Midlands

"I was shocked initially but that’s given way to a real sense of accomplishment. More than anything I feel it’s a privilege to represent Keele University and the West Midlands at a national competition. I think reaching the final of the Surgical Skills Competition demonstrates an early proficiency in manual and instrumental techniques vital for a career in surgery."

Alexandra Yates
University of Sheffield   Yorkshire  

"I am delighted to have qualified for the final. This achievement is a great impetus for me to continue my pursuit of a surgical career, and it is highly rewarding to receive feedback that I have demonstrated an aptitude for some of the skills that are central to the field.
The surgical faculty were highly enthusiastic throughout the day and I especially appreciated discussing with one surgeon the research they are currently involved in, which happens to be of a similar theme to the work I carried out in my intercalated year."

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