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Supporting Surgical Trainers - A Webinar Review

5 October 2020

In response to our webinar on ‘Supporting surgical trainers, especially during COVID’ we were contacted by Charilaos Tsioulpas.

Charilaos is from Greece and he is an aspiring cardiothoracic surgeon. He has studied medicine at the University Hospital of Siena in Italy where he has had a vast exposure to all aspects of cardiac surgery with an emphasis on heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support.

Charilaos said,

"I really enjoyed listening to you and your colleagues discussing training. It was a really interesting and thought-provoking webinar. I hugely appreciate all the efforts you are making to induce a “cultural” change in training. Trainees in the UK should feel blessed with people like you fighting for a better and qualitative training system. This would be a pure utopia for most realities around the world. I am wondering how can we pretend to standardise results in surgery if first and foremost we cannot standardise global surgical training. There are international societies, surgical colleges, health ministries, education committees, and yet we are far away from what should be a “gold standard” for training. Training cannot be a spare-time activity depending on the mood of who is meant to be an educator or trainer.  

Should all those beautiful things heard yesterday on the webinar become mandatory for the accreditation of teaching hospitals I am pretty sure that the majority of them (here in Italy and in Greece) would see their license being revoked. If a surgeon was a pill what should he/she have to go through before ending up in the market? A series of studies (phase1,2 etc), pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, efficacy and safety studies, strict quality controls in the production process and obviously continuous post-market monitoring. ALL the pills of a specific drug are produced to have the same action. If a surgeon (end product) is meant to be “therapeutic”, then the quality control of the “production process” (training) should be at least as strict as that applied in the pharmaceutical industry and most importantly it should be the same in the UK, in Italy, in Greece or everywhere else in the world.

Finally, surgical innovations are evolving and becoming available much more rapidly than the ability of the surgeons to use them thoughtfully and safely. Surgery is becoming a bullet train and if something doesn’t change immediately, I am afraid that soon there will be no train driver on board. Not to mention all the other factors (human factors, administration issues, hospital logistics etc) that may impact on the quality of services provided. For all these reasons I firmly believe that the role of surgical trainers and educators is now more important than ever."

We were delighted that Charilaos shared his thoughts with us. FST always welcomes comments and feedback so please contact us at fst@rcsed.ac.uk if you want to join the debate about the professionalisation of the surgical trainer.

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