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Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) - Adelaide

25 July 2023

The Faculty was thrilled to hear recently from Executive Committee Member, Lisa Hadfield-Law, about her experience attending the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) 2023 at the Adelaide Convention Centre in Australia in May 2023.

Lisa has been a Surgical educator since 1992 and has trained over 15,000 surgeons from 68 countries. She has 20 years of trauma nursing experience in the UK and abroad and trained as a virtual teacher in 2016.

 Lisa Hadfield -Law Royal Australasian College Of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) 1

I was invited by my friend and colleague Pete Smitham, a UK T&O trainee who relocated to Adelaide as an Orthopaedics and Trauma Consultant at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Associate Professor University of Adelaide. Does the switch from one side of the world to the other cause the switch from T&O to O&T, I wonder?

Lisa's Contribution:

I facilitated four sessions and was surprised by how much time it took to prepare for them. Even though these are familiar topics, it took me a total of 58 hours of preparation. Was it Winston Churchill who said that for every minute he spoke, he did an hour’s preparation? If so, I wasn’t far off his recommendation. 

The value of recording my sessions in advance allowed me to:

  1. Pin down my timings before the live session
  2. Send them a week ahead in case anything got in the way of my attendance
  3. Share them with participants afterwards

This proved useful when my slides failed to make the distance from the speaker’s room to one of the lecture theatres.  I shall make this a habit for any of my future presentations.

A Neurosurgical Curriculum Change

7 Principles of Virtual Teaching

Sharing Tough Feedback

Surgical Cognitive Simulation

During a surgical education section of the Congress, Gavin Nimon (Orthopaedic surgeon, based in Adelaide) ran a course on ‘How To Host A Podcast’, during which he recorded a live podcast using a panel to discuss “what determines how people learn surgery”. Rob Whitfield, a general surgeon from Adelaide and Gaya Asokan, a fellow in liver transplant at Flinders joined in. 

Gavin has taught himself how to make podcasts and keeps fuss and finesse to a minimum. The result is up to the minute, authentic and relevant content, appealing to a wide range of audiences. In supporting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community of surgical trainers through the Faculty of Surgical Training, it is a reminder to dial down the technical underpinnings of our educational offerings in the interest of increasing breadth and accessibility. 

 Lisa Hadfield -Law Royal Australasian College Of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) 5

Any surprises?

One aspect of the Congress I found intriguing and rather moving was the Acknowledgement of Country which was undertaken at the start of every session and is a way of showing awareness of, and respect for, the Aboriginal traditional owners of the land on which the Congress was being held. This acknowledgement is seen as one part of repairing the damage caused by exclusion from settler society. There was some variation in passion of the delivery, but every session I attended, this acknowledgement felt both authentic and appropriate.

On my visit to the newly built Royal Adelaide Hospital, I was astounded by the space, cleanliness and general standard of facilities. I have worked in so many UK hospitals which were just not designed to manage a modern service, but it made me wonder how quickly facilities might date in a modern facility. Whilst walking through brand spanking new office space, I found pictures of some familiar faces. Adelaide clearly has a strong track record of excellent fellowship training and have scattered those fellows far and wide.

Not a surprise, but a pleasure was watching Sally Langley, a plastic surgeon hand over the presidency of RACS to Kerin Fielding, an orthopaedic surgeon. 


Lisa's Key Takeaway:

Having revisited the FST MISSION:

• To support and nurture a diverse and inclusive community of surgical trainers.

• To define, promote and uphold the highest standards of surgical training

• To ensure the recognition of excellence in surgical training


Lisa's Key Takeaway Message:

  1. Challenges for surgeons are similar on both sides of the world.
  2. Plan your Networking - It’s tempting to hang out with your friends at any Congress but we have a unique opportunity to set up contacts with potential colleagues we need and want to meet and who might need or want to meet us. By reviewing a Congress programme carefully, and thinking about our professional priorities we can make contact early and arrange to meet, instead of hoping you might bump into each other. At our FST Congress, should we build in more opportunities for networking and help the less extravert to make connections?
  3. Kerin Fielding newly elected President of RACS introduced me to the concept of geographical narcissism “when city folk just assume they’re better”. How often do we fall into this trap? How can we as surgical trainers avoid it?
  4. All the hours spent preparing one off live presentations could be recycled into more enduring resources, very easily indeed.  Just videoing entire Congresses and making them available is over facing for asynchronous audiences. 


Lisa Hadfield -Law Royal Australasian College Of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) 2

Lisa Hadfield -Law Royal Australasian College Of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) 3

Lisa Hadfield -Law Royal Australasian College Of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) 4

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