The Importance of the Good Surgical Trainer

The Importance of the Good Surgical Trainer

The Faculty of Surgical Trainers (FST) are delighted to be part of the RSM meeting on behalf of RCSEd and in collaboration with The Royal Society of Medicine at their 2 November event, ‘The future of surgical training, how can we improve?’.

The day is focused on training issues that are pertinent to the trainer and trainee alike. We intend to highlight the importance of the good surgical trainer – you can have the most innovative training program you like, however without a good trainer it is not going to go anywhere. The delivery of good training requires that the system affords appropriate time, space, and recognition of the importance of training.

Our professional culture, including that of teaching, has become one of doing and transaction where the tasks themselves are counted and reported more that their value. Indeed, healthcare at present does not seem capable of realising the value of any encounter between the patient and a doctor. We have brought structure and objectivity to training – it can now be considered translational, but we continue to ‘tick’ boxes in a transactional form.  

The relationship between the trainer and trainee can be considered strained with the burgeoning service demands – good service and good training, however, do go hand in hand. However, the value, implication, and long-term outcome of our interventions (for the patient and the trainee) are poorly understood, let alone, with documentation of supposedly well considered decisions.

We are now entering a transformative stage, and perhaps the start of the period of enlightenment in surgical education. Multisource consultant feedback is going to annul the frequent ‘because-there-is-not-time-but-satisfactory’ tick- box that often comes without elucidation and explanation. We are going to make collective decisions and hold each other to account as trainers for our opinions and judgment of trainee capabilities. This initiative must be applauded as we consign to history; the egos, and superegos of the previous era. This is the marking of the extinction of the old school surgical trainer. It is welcomed. Furthermore, we are at last going to entrust our trainees in professional activities.

The fact that trainees have been doing and learning and learning by doing for eons is beside the point – the service delivery of the NHS continues to be dependent on trainees. At last, we can formally celebrate and applaud the skills and abilities of the training surgeon.  Personally, I am saddened that this significant step in surgical education is marred by nomenclature – is it called a CIP? I believe the word trust induces a genuine holistic, if not visceral response to the question ‘Would you allow this person to operate on a relative?’.

Meaningful education goes beyond the translational and transformative. The transcendental nature of education is growing people, nurturing their skills, and enabling people to find their own worth. This is acknowledging that everyone can be a surgeon. Being inclusive. Welcoming diversity. Letting people be – Peter Senge called this love.

Consider what the future of suture would look like without an incision. Decisions come before incisions so knowledge of anatomy, for example, will still be pertinent. The question is, from what perspective? However, the trainee will need many more skills as we realise that the future will depend on multidisciplinary teams that have not yet been considered.  So, what then do we need of the trainer, and what does the trainer need of the system?

Professor Michael Griffin OBE, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said:

We are delighted to see our Faculty of Surgical Trainers collaborate with The Royal Society of Medicine on this fantastic event.

Good surgical trainers are more important than ever before as surgical trainees catch up on practical training after this had to be halted at points during the pandemic. Being a good trainer is a skill in itself, therefore it is important to continually assess how we train surgeons and how we can adapt in order to give future surgeons the best induction to the profession.

The COVID-19 crisis has confounded diaries and hindered face-to-face meeting. The Faculty of Surgical Trainers thank the RSM and RCSEd for allowing us to share this space.  We encourage all to attend as our input at this event is in leu of our standard annual conference and our AGM will be held on-line. We look forward to seeing you there.   

For more information on the event and to book your space, click here.

Written by David J. O’Regan, Director of the Faculty of Surgical Trainers.

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