Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast

Let's Talk Surgery Podcast, Surgical Crossroads: Choosing your specialty - the Vascular episode

August 23, 2021 RCSEd Season 8 Episode 3
Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast
Let's Talk Surgery Podcast, Surgical Crossroads: Choosing your specialty - the Vascular episode
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Welcome to another exciting instalment of our Surgical Crossroads series. Today we have some vascular surgeons joining hosts Sesi Hotonu and Sadie Khwaja to tell us all about their chosen specialty. 

Andy Garnham works in the Black Country and chairs the vascular board at Edinburgh. He is also the training programme director in the West Midlands. He believes that choice of specialty often comes down to opportunity, particularly in terms of who you work with and their enthusiasm for their specialty. He became a consultant vascular surgeon in 2000, and in his day-to-day practice he enjoys the combination of general medicine and surgery and the wide variety of surgical procedures. He notes the importance of the doctor-patient relationship in vascular surgery, where patients often have ongoing health issues and vascular disease in more than one area of the body. 

As President and Treasurer of the Rouleaux Club, the association for vascular trainees, Andy was involved in registering vascular surgery as a new specialty. He shares what a great opportunity and privilege it has been to instigate a new training programme and highlights the new techniques and changes in practice he has seen during his 20-year career.

Lauren Shelmerdine is a vascular registrar in Newcastle who is currently taking some time out of training to do research. Lauren knew from the start of medical school that she wanted to do surgery, and used the opportunity of SSCs to try out different specialties, before deciding that vascular surgery was the one for her. She likes the fact it is one of the newer specialties, and the support and enthusiasm of her vascular colleagues played a large part in her decision. Like Andy, she enjoys getting to know her patients and working with them over a long period of time. 

Tricia Tay is a final year medical student in the Northwest about to start her academic foundation training. Once again, she has been inspired to explore vascular surgery as a career by those she has come into contact with during her training, notably a supportive supervisor and an inspirational registrar. She attended the ‘So You Want to be a Vascular Surgeon’ course at the RCSEd and enjoyed the well-organized hands-on sessions.

Andy and Lauren’s tips for getting that first vascular post include: building your portfolio early, looking over the vascular specialty portfolio checklist, joining the college and attending vascular-specific courses and joining the Rouleaux Club, which has great free resources such as webinars and podcasts. In particular they advise attending the upcoming VSASM conference (VSASM 2021 - Vascular Society) which has an essay prize of free entry for students and foundation doctors.

As a vascular surgeon you need good hand-eye coordination, a bit of courage, quick thinking and the ability to stay calm under pressure. “Be brave, be courageous, ask questions, be curious. Join the vascular fold.”

Contact Information
Visit https://www.rcsed.ac.uk/ for further information and details on becoming a member.

Email: [email protected] for any questions or topic suggestions you may have for future episodes.

This show is brought to you by the RCSEd. Follow us on  Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram. Hosted by Greg Ekatah, Sesi Hotonu and Sadie Khwaja produced and directed by Heather Pownall of Heather's Media Hub Ltd

Introducing the topic and guests for this episode.
[Sadie Khwaja – Andy Garnham] What's life like being a vascular surgeon? Give us a week in vascular surgery?
[SK – AG] It's quite complex – the patients, the challenges, the health issues aren’t they? And the patients are quite unique in terms of social factors etc?
[SK – AG] As vascular surgeons are you sub-specialising? Or are you still sticking to doing from the neck all the way down?
[SK – AG] Coming on to on-call, is it busy or not busy? What are the stress levels related to that?
[SK – AG] So tell us about Andy and his journey to becoming a consultant. How did it start?
[SK – AG] What are the new kind of consultants coming through? Are they 50% endovascular and 50% open? What's the kind of makeup?
[SK – AG] What’s the kind of person who would go into vascular surgery, in temperament or skill-set?
[Sesi Hotonu – Lauren Shelmerdine] It'd be very useful to hear a bit about your career journey and what it took to get into vascular training.
[SH – LS] What sorts of things do you have to put in your portfolio to get that coveted post? And I guess while we're on the subject, how competitive is it?
[SH – LS] What sort of opportunities are there to do research within vascular as a trainee?
[SH – LS] As a young specialty, what is vascular like for work-life balance, supporting female trainees and supporting family life?
[SH – LS] What's your day-to-day life? What's the worst thing about being a vascular registrar and the best thing? Is it all fun and games or is it horrible sometimes?
[SH – LS] What is your favourite vein in the human body? Favourite vein or artery?
[SK – Tricia Tay] So let's have a chat with Tricia who's starting that journey and quietly listening to Andy and Lauren. How do you feel listening to these two? Do you still want to be doing vascular?
[SK – TT] And what exposure have you had trying to explore vascular in in the med school years?
[SK – TT] You're moving on to your foundation year, … how are you going to use those two years in terms of your focus towards vascular?
[SK – AG] Your population base is literally everybody, so you can probably stretch those boundaries when you’re looking for [vascular-related] projects. What do you think Andy?
[SK – LS] It sounds like your contacts will help guide you as to what projects will work. What do you think Lauren?
[TT – AG & LS] Would you recommend going to the upcoming vascular conference?
[SK – AG] Moving on to the future. Where is vascular going? Let's look into the future 10 years? What would vascular be looking like?
[SK – LS] Lauren, what are you looking forward to as you progress up that ladder?
[SK – LS] Is fellowship still part of the picture going forward?
[SK – All] So what's your favourite instrument? And the best thing about vascular in one or two words.