Cutting Edge for Bristol University Student

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20 Feb 2017

Scalpels were drawn in an interactive, one-of-a-kind, national surgical skills competition run by Britain's oldest Royal Surgical college as the contest to discover the UK's best aspiring surgeon reached its climax at the Grand Final in Edinburgh on Saturday 18 February 2017.

Run by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, in association with Medtronic, the competition, now in its third year, was won by 29- year-old University of Bristol student Christopher Barr, after a gruelling series of tests designed to push the finalist's skills to the maximum.

Commenting on winning the UK final, Christopher Barr said:

“It is really fantastic and quite unexpected for me to have won the UK-wide Surgical Skills Competition! I have always been set on a career in surgery, so taking part in this competition was something I thought would be good to have on my CV to demonstrate my commitment to a surgical career.”

“It's really great that everyone who came participated received Affiliate Membership. I was quite amazed by my first visit to the Edinburgh College for the final. I knew there was a Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, but I didn’t realise it was such a grand building, with the museum and a hotel – it’s quite amazing the facilities that are here on offer to the College membership. The skills laboratory where we undertook the competition final is very well kitted out, which is good to see for my future career training. I hope to have an ongoing relationship with the College in the future; I’m an Affiliate Member now, and certainly in my future career I may become a Member of the College as well.”

Christopher’s prize, courtesy of Medtronic, is an exclusive opportunity to visit the ORSI Academy in Ghent, Belgium. The ORSI Academy is a centre for a surgical innovation and expertise in minimal invasive surgery and while there Chris will have the rare undergraduate opportunity to observe live robotic surgery and the opportunity to practice on robotic simulators.

Commenting on the prize, Chris Barr said:

“I’m really looking forward to going away to Ghent with the winning prize, especially the opportunity to experience and explore what minimal invasive surgery is going to be about in the future.

“Overall I just really enjoyed the competition, the heats were challenging and testing, but at the same time really great fun so I’d definitely recommend to any undergraduates thinking of doing surgery as a career to do the competition, if it’s available again.”

The competition began in September 2016 with 19 regional rounds across the UK during which the students were asked to undertake a series of demanding surgical skills tests, with the winner of each heat announced on the night.

With only 8% of medical undergraduates qualifying as surgeons in one of the ten specialties, surgery is an incredibly competitive area, so being able to demonstrate the commitment and the skills to become a surgeon at this early stage puts students at a great advantage later in their career.

Convened by College Council Member Mr Roger Currie, a Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in Ayrshire, the competition aims to discover the most talented aspiring surgeons in the UK, Mr Currie explains:

"We hope that the surgical skills competition will help to inspire the next generation of surgeons and drive them forward at this crucial point in their training. The competition is a unique opportunity for senior medical students with an interest in surgery to practice their skills and showcase their expertise against their peers.”

RCSEd President Professor Michael Lavelle-Jones added:

"The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has a long established reputation for being at the forefront surgery, having led and supported the profession since 1505.”

"It has been rewarding through this competition to witness the talents of senior medical students, across all four nations, and to be able to provide an opportunity for this next generation of aspiring surgeons to showcase their surgical skills and network with each other and established surgeons at our Royal College.

“RCSEd is committed to fostering relationships with the undergraduate medical schools in the UK and this competition provides an excellent platform. We are most grateful to Medtronic for their collaboration to make this competition possible."

Second place was awarded to 23-year-old King’s College London student Jack Gao.

To find out more about the College's Affiliate Network and the support the College gives to undergraduate students click here.

View more images from the competition final on our Facebook page.


About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

RCSEd was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is the oldest surgical corporation in the world with memberships approaching 25,000 professionals in over 100 countries worldwide. The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through its interest in education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce. It is also home to the UK’s only Faculty of Surgical Trainers, open to all those with an interest in surgical training regardless of College affiliation. Find RCSEd on Twitter and on Facebook

The College is based at Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW and can be reached on (0)131 527 1600 or In March 2014, a new base opened in Birmingham, catering to the 80% of the College’s UK membership who are based in England and Wales.

For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Team on +447467 485145 or email 


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