International Training Conference to Make Urgent Call to Develop New Training Models that Future-Proof the Global Surgical Community

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05 Mar 2019

Surgical trainers will attend one of the biggest global surgical training events, which is being hosted in Edinburgh this month. The delegates come together from around the world to hear from a unique selection of world-renowned experts in training, and to help shape the future of surgical training.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) and the Faculty of Surgical Trainers’ (FST) are hosting the 2019 International Conference on Surgical Education and Training (ICOSET), and are opening the conference with a key debate asking delegates if the traditional apprenticeship model of training is dead and should be consigned to the scrapheap.

“We have trained generations of surgeons successfully using the apprenticeship model, but is it really still fit for purpose in the 21st century?” Craig McIlhenny, FST Surgical Director asks, adding: “Has the time come for us to accept a paradigm shift in training and move with up-to-the minute educational theory? This debate will get to the very heart of this current and real question.”

ICOSET 2019 has attracted an amazing line-up of world-renowned speakers and significant innovations to the programme including integrated workshops and free paper sessions, supported by the Journal of Surgical Education. The two-day event has attracted over 200 delegates from all over the world, including representatives from across Africa, whom RCSEd has sponsored to attend. The conference will explore current and future concepts and challenges that face surgical trainers, and provide an up-to-date global overview of the current state of surgical education and training and explore how issues are tackled in different environments.

Keynote speaker Richard Reznick will say that inspiring the next generation of trainers is vital: “We have no interest in teaching the next generation of surgeons to be as good as us – our dream is to make them better!”

He believes that the time is now right to take a new approach to education to enhance and optimise training skills that moves towards a competency-based model: “Complex new approaches to training will not be achieved without specific education that uses modern assessment techniques and more effective teaching in theatre.”

He will call for a programme of continuous quality improvement and for shared standards to raise training standards and ensure reciprocal recognition by the global surgical community: “There are many opportunities for colleges to co-operate and share.”

Craig McIllhenny says he is excited that ICOSET will for the first time “host a series of workshops, poster abstracts and a pre-conference webinar so delegates from wherever they are in the world can access even more to support their surgical training practice”. This includes a workshop to introduce delegates to critical 'non-technical skills for surgeons’ (NOTSS) that involves situation awareness, teamwork and leadership.

The RCSEd has led the development of NOTSS for 15 years “and now has programmes across the world including in Africa (Rwanda) and the American College of Surgeons”, explains workshop leader Steve Yule, Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Director of Education and Research, STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“At the ICOSET workshop we will teach it with representatives from RCSEd, North America and Africa. This will be the first time that we bring together surgeons from Europe, Africa and North America to discuss these critical non-technical skills and get practice in using the NOTSS behaviour-rating system across different surgical cultures.

“These skills are important for surgeons and operating room teams across the globe. By using the common language of NOTSS we can make a positive impact on performance and outcomes for surgical patient everywhere.”

Craig McIllhenny says he’s “very proud to be involved in this prestigious international conference. This is an exciting opportunity at an exciting time to get an international faculty of world-renowned surgical educators in Edinburgh educators to explore current issues affecting surgical trainers. The role of the surgical trainer will be central and we’ll debate crucial training issues through plenary sessions, breakout sessions and workshops.

“Come and join us and network with world leaders in surgical education and training and have a say in shaping the future for surgical trainers,” Craig McIlhenny concludes.


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.

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