Wade Programme in Surgical Anatomy

The Wade Programme in Surgical Anatomy aims to support the study of surgical anatomy during surgical training and continuing professional development. The programme has been established with generous support from the Pilmuir Trust.

1. Wade Programme Educational Approach

The educational approach taken by the programme is based on a concept of the study of surgical anatomy as being an active blending of anatomical knowledge and of its applications in surgical practice, aimed at benefiting patients. Trainees are encouraged to develop a robust, three-dimensional, internally visualised model of the anatomy of the body, rather than merely memorising verbal descriptions. With the rapid rate of developments in imaging and new surgical techniques, it would seem that this skill of internal visualisation will be increasingly required by trainees throughout their professional lives.

The programme, particularly in conjunction with preparation for the MRCS examination, encourages the early acquisition of an internal  three-dimensional model of the whole body (including surgically relevant microscopic anatomy and development) regardless of the particular specialty training a trainee is planning to undertake. In support of this approach trainees are reminded, for example, that trauma and neoplasm are no respecters of descriptive boundaries between body regions, and that operative work will regularly require practical knowledge of  interspecialty anatomical border zones.

The programme also encourages an active application of anatomy to as wide a range of aspects of surgical practice as possible, including surgical pathology, clinical presentation, imaging  & other investigations, operative surgery and patient safety issues, in particular in relation to avoiding damage to underlying structures.

Throughout the programme, trainees are also encouraged to actively identify key concepts  and informative key diagrams, which will aid learning through understanding, rather than by memorisation.

It is considered that such a spatial approach, based on ‘how thing are put together’, readily facilitates the understanding, not only of anatomy and its surgical  applications, but also helps with the speedy acquisition of the robust, three-dimensional internal images, which are so necessary for safe surgical practice

The Programme is structured as follows:


2. Wade Programme Components

(a) Outreach for Clinical Medical Students 

A short Surgical Anatomy Workshop uses case studies and hands on demonstrations to emphasise the important and longstanding links between anatomy and surgical practice. The workshop thus aims to draw the attention of College Affiliates, and potential Affiliates, to the need for developing the skill of internal, three-dimensional visualization. It also serves as an introduction to the MRCS examination and its role in ensuring surgeons have excellent anatomical knowledge. In addition, opportunity is taken to inform potential Affiliates of the benefits of becoming an Affiliate, including reduced cost for courses, access to the Acland Anatomy electronic atlas and also to the College’s library and information technology resources.

(b) MRCS Examination Preparation

For those preparing for the MRCS Part A and Part B examinations, the programme provides several courses. For those at an early stage in preparation, a series of One Day Reviews of Surgical Anatomy are held. These Wade Days, as they are informally called, consider the topics of Head and Neck, Trunk and Limbs for one day each. Attendees are given preparatory reading and encouraged to bring problems of understanding for clarification by tutors. The days are structured around short overviews followed by hands-on demonstration sessions using three-dimensional teaching materials, particularly cadaveric specimens. The Days held to date have attracted both senior undergraduates and also junior trainees and the participant feedback has been exceptionally positive. An MRCS Anatomy Study Day, particularly designed for regional delivery, is being developed. The day is designed to allow trainees to get an overview of the type of anatomy questions asked in the MRCS examination, as well as to practice answering questions in a relaxed atmosphere, with an emphasis on faculty feedback.

For trainees about to take the MRCS Part B examination, a course entitled Anatomy for MRCSOSCEs is held three times a year, prior to the MRCS examination diets. This course provides a brief, structured review of the anatomy of the whole body in preparation for the MRCS anatomy OSCE, with a strong emphasis on interactive identification of cadaveric specimens. The course is timed to immediately precede a more general MRCS OSCE Preparation Course, in which there is an opportunity to practice OSCE technique.

(a) Cadaveric Specialty Training Courses 

The College runs a number of courses for specialty trainees at a more advanced stage of training in order to provide an opportunity to practise operative procedures on cadaveric specimens. Reviews of relevant surgical anatomy are provided for these courses under the auspices of the Wade Programme. Such courses are currently provided for urological and paediatric surgical trainees, as well as for general surgical trainees operating on the thorax and abdomen in the context of trauma.


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