On Saturday, 18 March 2017, the Australasian Students’ Surgical Association executive hosted the inaugural launch and leadership day at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Queensland headquarters. The day hosted twenty-two medical student representatives across Australia and New Zealand, including surgical society presidents and committee members.

The program included two keynote presentations from Doctor John Quinn and Doctor Richard Lewandowski, both internationally and domestically renowned surgeons who are based in Brisbane.

Doctor Quinn, the first Vascular Surgeon trained in Australia and the Executive Director of Surgical Affairs for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons delivered an informative session on the requirements for acceptance into surgical training pathways. His talk was particularly useful as he kindly answered many questions from students about selection criteria and the variety of opportunities medical students and junior doctors can pursue to increase their chance as prospective applicants in future years.

Doctor Lewandowski, an esteemed plastic and reconstructive surgeon and the Co-Founder of Operation Smile, gave an eye opening discussion about the opportunities of philanthropic work outside the constraints of domestic practice. His stories and photographs of patients he’s worked with overseas were inspirational, and gave students an insight into the wide possibilities of surgical training.

Following the keynote presentations, a “RACS Specialties” panel session was hosted, with a fantastic range of local surgeons:

  • Doctor John Quinn, vascular surgeon;
  • Doctor Richard Lewandowski, plastics and reconstructive surgeon;
  • Doctor Rosslyn Walker, paediatric surgeon;
  • Doctor Carina Chow, colorectal surgeon;
  • Doctor Rumal Jayalath, neurosurgeon;
  • Doctor Grant Fraser-Kirk, plastics and reconstructive surgeon; and
  • Doctor Damian Fry, general surgeon trainee and RACSTA representative

We are so thankful for these wonderful surgeons on so kindly giving up their time to provide such an insightful discussion about topics including choice of specialist training, pathway selection process and the expansion and development of surgical careers. The students found this session particularly beneficial and were grateful for the surgeons kindly answering their questions.

The afternoon comprised of four workshops, aimed at providing the student representatives with skills to assist them in working to improve their university student society to provide education and resources for students to develop a pre-vocational interest in surgery. These workshops included:

  • Mr Allan Mason, from Encore Accounting who spoke about budgeting for surgical societies and personal finances through training years;
  • Mrs Jane Clark, a Senior Marking Consultant for VIE Marketing, who ran a practical session on skills to improve advertisement of surgical societies to engage students;
  • ASSA workshop covering leadership scenarios, an overview of the upcoming Australasian Students’ Surgical Conference (ASSC);
  • ASSA strategic planning session, allowing students to collectively brainstorm beneficial resources for surgical societies, including the academic portfolio, as run by Cameron Wells on the ASSA executive.

 

On behalf of the Australasian Students’ Surgical Association executive, I would like to thank Thalia Nguyen, the Administrative Officer for the RACS Queensland office for her guidance in facilitating the launch. We are very grateful for ongoing support from the attending surgeons, and thank them for so kindly giving up their time to provide such insight to the medical student representatives and the executive.

Finally, I’d personally like to thank the current executive team for so diligently working to create this launch, and I hope this initiative is continued and expanded in future years.

Helena Franco, Vice President (External)