Can we change the surgeon ‘personality’ and do we really want to?

26th May 2022


In the run up to the RCSEd Triennial and ICOSET conference the RCSEd Trainees committee are running a series of webinars focused on surgeon wellbeing. 

Surgery and surgical training is tough. In his 2014 article for the Pacific Standard, San Francisco based endocrine surgeon Wen Shen proposes that the focus on surgeon wellbeing might be misguided. Does the shift towards a kinder, gentler surgeon put us at risk of losing the perfectionist edge required to survive in this ‘blood and guts’ world?


During this webinar we will discuss ideas around the typical 'surgeon personality':

  • How do behaviour and personality differ? 
  • How has our surgical cultural identity been formed and how much does it condition us to continue to behave in the same way?
  • How does this behaviour impact training?
  • What happens to those of us who don’t have those typical ‘surgeon traits’ and can’t meet these cultural expectations?
  • And how do we develop resilience and support better coping mechanisms for surgeons and surgical trainees, without losing our ‘edge’?



Our panellists include:

  • Gillian Hardman
    Gill is an ST7 in Cardiothoracic Surgery Trainee in Health Education England, Northwest and is currently out-of-programme for PhD research at Newcastle University, She completed her MSc in Medical Education in 2018 and is a member of the RCSed Non-Technical Skills for Surgeons (NOTSS) faculty and the Faculty of Surgical Trainers (MFSTed).  Gill was elected to the RCSEd Trainees Committee in 2020 and has been involved in work aimed at improving surgeon and surgical team wellbeing and changing the surgical culture to increase diversity, inclusion and better support surgical training.

  • Steve Yule
    Professor Steven Yule is Chair of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, Director of Non-Technical Skills at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and leads the Edinburgh Surgical Sabermetrics Research Group. He is an academic psychologist and human factors scientist with 20 years’ experience studying team performance and non-technical skills in high risk/ high reliability industries (surgery, healthcare, energy, transportation, space exploration). Prof Yule is internationally recognized for his work in non-technical skills, patient safety, and surgical team simulation. 

  • Malcolm Nicol
    Malcolm describes himself as a middle aged, middle of the road general orthopaedic surgeon. He has been a consultant for a little over 10 years at Raigmore Hospital in the Scottish Highlands. Originally from Birmingham, he trained in North East Scotland, after attending medical school in London. He is heavily involved in undergraduate surgical education and is an educational supervisor in the postgraduate training programme. Outside of work he tries to do as much outdoor ‘stuff’ as possible with his 8 year old son, enjoying cycling, sailing and camping.

  • Andrew Garnham
    Andrew Garnham is the current chair of the RCS Ed Vascular Specialty Board. He has served on the council of the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland since 2012 in the education committee, as the Treasurer and is currently the President elect. He has a long standing interest in medical education and as TPD has developed the vascular training programme within the West Midlands and currently leads on faculty development for the school of surgery. He has been intimately involved with the development of the national ASPIRE programme for Vascular Trainees. He is a member of the vascular SAC and this year lead the new independent vascular recruitment process.

  • Sarah Gill
    Bio TBC


1 Hour

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