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A Day with Council at the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Sonia Eke sits smiling, in her graduation robes

13 Jun 2024

Sonia Ike
In April 2024, I had the opportunity to attend the monthly Council meeting at the RCS England HQ in London. I made my way into the College, bright and early, and headed to the large Lumley Library, where all attendees were gathered. I was introduced to the College President, Tim Mitchell, and the meeting officially began. At the very start, key declarations were made. There was a brief recap of the previous month's meeting, and then, the day's agenda was laid out. The President made a statement to the Council, and following this, the Chief Executive provided a report with important financial updates and announcements. 
Throughout the day, several topics were discussed – all related to trainee, specialty, and SAS matters, various fellowships and prizes awarded, finances, committee updates, and the newly appointed elected Council members. 
There were two guest presentations, one by Colonel Professor Linda Orr, who gave a phenomenal talk on military surgery. The second was by Dr Charlotte Eckhardt, who gave an extraordinary presentation on the Faculty of Dental Surgery. I also had the chance to interview her about her career and role as FDS Dean, read the full interview to learn more. Both guests were able to provide a glimpse into their day-to-day activities, as well as their unique experiences as female surgeons. While worlds apart specialty-wise, their experiences of being women in fields once dominated by men were both impressive. Their hard work and diligence underpinned the stories of both women. 
Following a fantastic Council meeting, a training workshop on ‘The College’s approach to tackling sexual misconduct in surgery’ took place with domain experts in the afternoon. There was group work and open floor discussions on critical themes. This was an incredible and insightful end to the day.  

Overall, I’d say that the most impressive aspects of the Council meeting were the transparency of all topics broached, the variety of themes, and sheer discursiveness.  

While the agenda for subject matter was set, great effort was still made to allow for breadth and depth. All opinions were considered across the floor. Regardless of an individual’s training level or experience, their voice mattered. Ultimately, all attendees, invited and elected, were respected. 

Finally, and most importantly, the representation of surgeons in the meeting was positive to see, with diversity and inclusion at the forefront. This was a College meeting with attendees who can indeed vouch for my colleagues and me.  

I felt represented, I felt heard. 

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