Future surgeon's skills are golden

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The surgical skills of more than 120 medical students and junior doctors aspiring to be surgeons were put to the test at the annual Golden Scalpel Games in Sydney in August.

The Golden Scalpel Games, now in their eighth year, provide a unique opportunity for those seeking to be the next generation of surgeons to showcase their talents in a team-based competition developed and coordinated by the Health Education and Training Institute.

Against strong competition, Sydney South West Surgical Skills Network claimed top position in the Surgical Trainee competition.

In the Medical Student competition, the team of students from University of NSW proved too good for their competitors, edging ahead of eight other teams to claim victory.

The Games see teams rotate through up to nine stations, with each station presenting a different, complex surgical task including a simulated theatre station, laparoscopic anatomy, laparoscopic appendicectomy and laparotomy, colorectal and vascular anastomosis, wound management, tendon repair and severe trauma.

In 20 minute bursts, participants’ skills are put to the test under the watchful eyes of senior surgeons whose job it is to supervise, assess and provide feedback to participants following completion of each procedure. Amid friendly rivalry, scores were projected onto a large screen scoreboard.

The Golden Scalpel Games continued to expand in 2019 with the introduction of the Associate Professor Kerin Fielding Perpetual Trophy for Teamwork and Communication Skills. This inaugural award, which was presented to the Northern Surgical Skills Network, recognises teams who demonstrate excellence in the important non-technical skills of surgical training.

HETI welcomed its second ever Indigenous team of medical students to the competition, and in May 2019 an international edition of HETI’s Golden Scalpel Games was showcased in Thailand, an initiative made possible through a collaboration with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

Associate Professor Kerin Fielding, the first female orthopaedic surgeon in NSW and Chair of the Clinical Surgical Training Council, opened the Games and supervised on the day.

Professor Fielding said the Games reinforce the importance of surgical skills training to build confidence, reduce risk, improve knowledge and safe patient care by exploring new innovations in technology and the use of supportive simulated surgical environments.

HETI’s Golden Scalpel Games give aspiring surgeons based in regional and metro areas a wonderful opportunity to gain experience and knowledge from their peers and senior medical professionals.

Associate Professor Kerin Fielding, Chair of the Clinical Surgical Training Council.

HETI Chief Executive, Adjunct Professor Annette Solman said the event not only provides valuable training but also the opportunity for connecting with network directors of training, and key leaders of surgical training from HETI and the Clinical Surgical Training Council.

“It is rewarding to watch the next generation of NSW Health’s surgeons enrich their skills in such an immersive environment and take part in healthy competition,” Ms Solman said.

Medical Student competition

Nine teams competed in the Medical Student Competition:

  • Australian National University
  • Indigenous Team
  • Macquarie University
  • Notre Dame University
  • University of NSW - Winner of the Golden Scalpel Games Medical Student Edition
  • University of Newcastle/University of New England
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Wollongong
  • Western Sydney University

Trainee competition

Six teams competed in the Trainee Competition:

  • Eastern and Greater Southern Surgical Skills Network
  • Hunter New England Surgical Skills Network
  • Northern Surgical Skills Network – Winner of the Associate Professor Kerin Fielding Perpetual Trophy for Teamwork and Communication Skills
  • Southern Surgical Skills Network
  • Sydney South West Surgical Skills Network – Winner of the Golden Scalpel Games Trainee Edition
  • Western Sydney Surgical Skills Network

Further information

For further information visit Golden Scalpel Games.