Scalpels At The Ready

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11 Sep 2018

Today, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh together with sponsors Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, services and solutions, launch the nationwide surgical skills competition aiming to inspire, discover talent, and provide a platform for the next generation of surgeons. 

With only 8% of medical undergraduates qualifying as surgeons in one of the ten specialities, 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.

The ground-breaking competition, now in its fourth year, sees final year medical students from across the UK demonstrate their surgical talents and skills in a series of challenges. The competition begins with 19 heats, one at each UK medical school, during which the students are asked to undertake a series of surgical tasks, such as suturing and knot-tying to laparoscopic skills tests with the winner of each heat announced on the night.

Professor Michael Lavelle-Jones, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh said:

“Possessing surgical skills is a key element for any surgeon in training and, indeed, any aspiring surgeon. It is a fun and challenging event which I encourage all students with an ambition to test and develop surgical skills to join in.”

Professor Michael Griffin, set to take over presidency from Professor Lavelle-Jones at the College in November is delighted to continue support of the competition adding:  

“Acquiring and developing technical and surgical skills is crucial for any of our craft specialties. The focus of my next three years of presidency will be on aspiring young surgeons and trainees and I see this exciting and stimulating competition as something to be enjoyed, as well as being educational.  I know that entering this will be fun!”

The competition's last winner, University of Bristol student Christopher Barr commented on the impact of his win and 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.”

Christopher continued: 

“It's really great that everyone who 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 in my future career I may become a Member of the College as well.”

Solidifying a successful partnership between the College and competition sponsor Medtronic, Barry Allan, Strategic Account Manager from Medtronic, comments: 

“Medtronic works across borders, across disciplines, and across industries to deliver new and innovative medical technology solutions that help improve healthcare around the world. The Grand Prize will provide the winner with an experience where they will be given access to pre- or early-launch technology in development for the surgical arena. The National Surgical Skills Champion will therefore be rewarded with an experience and exposure to products which only a handful of surgeons in the world have had access to. Due to the nature of product development timelines, the exact experience to be provided will be confirmed at the time of the Grand Final in March 2019 and will be delivered in the summer of 2019.”

Medtronic Business Unit Director of Surgical Innovations Edna Mulvany continues:

“With well reported pressure on the NHS to train sufficient numbers of surgeons for the future, this contest is an excellent way to encourage interest in the surgical career path within the student medical population. We look forward to seeing the engagement and enjoyment of the participants as they test their fledgling surgical skills in the coming months.” 

The best contender from each region and one lucky randomly selected runner-up across the UK will receive a travel and accommodation package to Edinburgh to stay at the College's Ten Hill Place Hotel and to participate in the Grand Final. The competition will culminate in Edinburgh on 16 March 2019 at which the top 20 finalists will undertake a broad range of surgical procedures before determining who will be make the cut to become the overall winner presented at the  Grand Final. 

As well as prizes awarded to the winner and runner-up, all participants of the competition will receive a certificate of participation, and gain two years’ affiliation to the RCSEd’s Affiliate Network.

To find out more about the Surgical Skills Competition, visit or follow on social media via #SurgicalSkillsComp


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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