RCSEd Vascutek Cardiothoracic Surgery Placements - a Perspective

RCSEd Vascutek Cardiothoracic Surgery Placements - a Perspective

The College is delighted to offer a number of placement opportunities for undergraduates. We recently spoke with Denis Ajdarpasic, a medical student from The University of Nottingham who spent 2 weeks on placement this month at Bristol Royal Infirmary and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children as part of the RCSEd Vascutek Cardiothoracic Surgery Placements.

Firstly, I would like to thank Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and Vascutek for making this placement possible and giving medical students a fantastic opportunity to explore this niche specialty. I would also like to thank Sophie for organising everything before I arrived in Bristol, and Mr West for going above and beyond to accommodate my aims throughout the placement.

I spent two weeks in Bristol Royal Infirmary and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children under the guidance of Mr West to get a broad, yet very immersive, experience in adult cardiac, thoracic and congenital cardiac surgery. The entire placement was very well organised from start to finish and gave me flexibility to explore all aspects of being a cardiothoracic surgeon. I discussed my aims with Mr West and wanted to gain a realistic insight by dividing my time between ward rounds, theatre and intensive care. The entire team were fantastic in giving me every opportunity to scrub in and assist, take a history and examine patients on ward rounds, and provide teaching in between cases, ward rounds and clinics. Much of my time was spent in theatre to give me ample opportunity to practice my skin closure, hand tying, thoracoscope operation and sternotomy closure techniques. However, shadowing anaesthetists and intensivists in the pre- and post-operative period was vital in understanding the holistic involvement of other healthcare professionals part of the multi-disciplinary team. I felt part of the team from day one and I am so grateful to the team at Bristol who took the time to teach me various aspects involved in the preoperative assessment, scans and intraoperative management by the anaesthetists and perfusionists. Two cases that will stay with me were emergency pneumothorax surgery and the Norwood procedure for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. I had the privilege of assisting in both and seeing the anatomy up close was fascinating, particularly for the congenital case due to patient size and complex physiology as a result to the underlying defects. Gaining first-hand experience of the level of skill involved and intraoperative decision-making process that will impact the rest of the baby’s life was one of many valuable lessons during my second week with the congenital cardiac team under the supervision of Mr Shafi Mussa.

Assisting in the Norwood procedure for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Outside the hospital I spent my free time exploring the city and some of the unique attractions Bristol has to offer. I would encourage any student who is curious about this amazing specialty to apply as you will get an immersive experience beyond anything we are exposed to at medical school, and will meet some great people who go above and beyond to make you feel part of the team.

Exploring what Bristol has to offer; sunset views from the Clifton Observatory over Clifton Suspension Bridge

Details of undergraduate bursaries and placements can be found on the College website here.

If you would like to register your interest for the next round of applications please email outreach@rcsed.ac.uk.

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