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Leeds Students are a Cut Above

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29 May 2014

A group of undergraduates from Leeds University beat tough competition from across the UK to win a prestigious award from Britain’s oldest Royal Surgical College.

Every year, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (www.rcsed.ac.uk); which recently opened a new centre of operations in Birmingham to cater for the 80% of its UK membership based in England and Wales; awards one special group the accolade of ‘Student Surgical Society of the Year’. During this month’s UK Medical Students’ Association (UKMSA) conference which took place at the Harrogate International Centre, Cutting Edge Leeds (www.leedscuttingedge.co.uk) made the final cut and were crowned best student society of 2014.

The conference saw shortlisted student society finalists from all over the UK compete head-to-head via posters showcasing their advances and achievements over the last year. Cutting Edge Leeds; which was founded in 2001 to help promote surgery as a career within the University of Leeds and its medical school; have delivered in the last 8 months alone an impressive two free national conferences, half a dozen courses covering a variety of skills including laparoscopic (keyhole) and plastic surgery as well as two academic events.

In addition, they are one of the few surgical societies to offer a mentoring scheme (where members are paired up with surgeon contacts who can help and support them in gaining the experience); hold regular suturing classes for both medical and dental students taught by qualified doctors; have hosted talks on a variety of topics including surgical electives, scrub nurses and their role in the operating theatre, head and neck anatomy, transplant surgery and others.

Cutting Edge Leeds; which has 158 members; also invite A-level students from less privileged backgrounds who are interested in medicine to their annual national conference through the Widening Access to Medicine Scheme (WAMS) and have a unique transplant scheme where medical students are ‘on-call’ and can get bleeped to see live transplant surgery with the ‘on-call’ doctor

President of the society Gayatri Raghuram, who heard about the competition through a scholarship scheme called the Leeds Undergraduate Research Enterprise said,

It feels really good to win this prize. I was surprised to win because I think that in the grand scheme of things, we are one of the smaller societies in comparison to the big southern ones – so I’m really glad that the work we’ve done this year has been recognised’.

On being asked about the society’s future plans, Gayatri said,

“We have a new President (Omar Khalil) who was Vice-President before. I think that making sure that we maintain all of the activities that we’ve done this year and also maybe do a few more academic surgery events because currently within medicine there is now a big push to get medical students to start thinking about research and academic surgical research”.

Representatives from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh’s Regional Surgical Advisor (RSA) network who shortlisted abstracts and served as judges for the competition included consultant surgeons Messrs. Steven Backhouse, Aidan Fitzgerald, Fanus Dryer and Miss Anna Paisley. She says;

“The overall quality of entrants was very high. I was impressed by the organisation behind the societies and by their breadth of work.”

Previous winners from 2012 ‘Nottingham Scrubs’ were named runners-up.


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