How we made training more fun by creating a surgical skills competition
22 Aug 2017
Kat Ford & Lilli Cooper
There are limited surgical skills courses pitched at core trainees or pre-specialty surgical trainees, and those that do exist are often expensive. We identified the potential of an alternative type of training course that encompassed fun and teamwork as well as friendly rivalry. We created Are You Cut Out For It? as a more creative tool for learning, yet one that would still give core trainees the opportunity to improve their portfolios and win prizes.
The competition was created in 2012, following a regional pilot in London. Since then, it has grown into a national, annual event, franchised and supported by the RCS, with 12 regions registering for the 2016/17 intake. The annual final is held in London, where the winning pairs of the regional heats compete to win the title of 'best core surgical trainees in the UK'! We wanted to create an enjoyable training environment, and according to the feedback from the participants, we've done just that. 100% of the delegates surveyed told us that they enjoyed the competition, saying they found it "great fun", "useful training" and "sociable". Both the judges and the participants appreciated the emphasis on teamwork, as well as the RCS facilities. Read what last year's winners have to say about their experience.
The competition is open to core trainees commencing their CT2 year. Participants compete in pairs across a range of fields, including basic core surgical, skin and laparoscopic tasks. The variety of time-pressured tasks allows the examiners to assess the quality of surgical skill and knowledge of both members of the team, with marks allocated for the assistant as well as the primary operator. The final provides a similar set-up with the addition of a 'tie-break' activity, designed to differentiate between the two top-scoring best pairs on the day whilst injecting a little more intensity at the final hurdle.
Are You Cut Out For It? is not just for CT2s. Surgeons of all career grades can volunteer to organise the regional heats between October and December. An organisational blue print is provided, and Limbs & Things provide the simulation material via the Careers Support team. RCS-approved certificates are awarded for attending, winning and running the competitions, which look great for your portfolio. Both the winners and runners up of the national final also receive a substantial cash prize, generously provided by the Honourable Society of Knights of the Round Table.
We're proud of the competition's success so far, and we hope it continues to be a light-hearted and engaging training tool for core trainees in the future. We encourage all grades to get involved in the organisation of Are You Cut Out For It? to ensure the longevity of this unique competition. The question is, are you cut out for it?