Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast

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

September 06, 2021 RCSEd Season 8 Episode 5
Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast
Let's Talk Surgery Podcast, Surgical Crossroads: Choosing your specialty - the General Surgery episode
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Welcome to the Surgical Crossroads series with hosts Sesi Hotonu and Sadie Khwaja. This episode looks at General Surgery with another fantastic panel of guests.

Jane Macaskill is a consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon in NHS Tayside. She is from Scotland and completed her training in Dundee and Edinburgh. Jane decided to pursue a career in surgery after an inspiring surgical placement with an ‘old-fashioned’ general surgeon who did everything. She enjoyed the exposure to a real mix of surgery and met some inspiring patients, and from that point she was hooked. She moved into breast surgery when a job opportunity arose at the Breast Clinic in Edinburgh.

Jane finds that breast surgery patients are particularly well informed about the treatments available to them and enjoys the challenge of keeping up to date with all the latest developments in her area. Jane also has an interest in global health and volunteers with the charity, Medical Aid for Palestinians, going out to the West Bank and helping surgeons there to develop their breast cancer services. 

Kellie Bateman is a general surgery registrar in Wales. She was drawn to general surgery during her training rotation by the supportive team, the pace of the ward rounds and the logical steps involved. After originally considering urology, she decided she liked the variety of general surgery so made the commitment to this career path last year. Kellie is currently taking a year out to be a Welsh clinical leadership fellow with Improvement Cymru, and she finds the specialty are very supportive of pursuing such other areas of interest. Kellie is is also a member of the RCSEd trainees committee and is passionate about wellbeing and improving training.

Syed Zaidi is an academic foundation year one trainee with a keen interest in general surgery. He considers himself a hands-on person and has always been inclined towards a career in surgery. He describes the steep learning curve from being a medical student to taking responsibility for your patients,  but he finds this is the most rewarding part of the job. Syed describes the difficulty of choosing a specialty when all senior colleagues talk about their disciplines with such passion. He strongly recommends going to theatres, getting to know consultants and getting a feel for the different specialties. 

We also speak to our own ‘Let’s Talk Surgery’ host, Greg Ekatah about his pathway through general surgery to sub-specialising as a colorectal surgeon. He enjoys the breadth of the biology and patient groups and is excited by the development of robotic surgery and technological advances in the specialty. Greg gives us a really helpful overview of the training pathway to becoming a general surgeon. He heartily recommends giving general surgery a go, and says you need to experience it hands-on to understand why it is so enjoyable. 

The panel’s advice for trainees who are interested in a career in general surgery is to be proactive and make your own opportunities. Work hard, take your time, and enjoy the journey.

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 – Jane Macaskill] Welcome, Jane. Let's explain where you are now and what you do and how you got there.
[SK – JM] So what’s a day in the life or week, shall we say in the life of Jane as a breast surgeon?
[SK - JM] How do you find a balance with life in your career?
[Sesi Hotonu – Kellie Bateman] Kellie, why don't you tell us a bit about your surgical journey? Why you chose general surgery and what it's like being a general surgical trainee in 2021?
[SH – KB] Is there any one thing that you feel was the most beneficial in getting that coveted core surgical training post, and, indeed, your higher specialty training post in general surgery?
[SH – KB] How competitive is it to get onto core surgical training when you went on? And how competitive was it when you went on to get your higher surgical training number?
[SK – KB] Kellie, are you planning to take some time out?
[SK – Syed Zaidi] So, I'm going to welcome Syed, nice to meet you just tell us a little bit about yourself.
[All] The importance of translational skills and experience of all the surgical specialties, whatever your chosen career path.
[SK – JM] I think experience, as we're talking about, [is valuable] wherever it comes from. Equally [experience] abroad is good as well. What's your experience of that journey?
[SK – SZ] Syed, what's your path at the moment, going forward?
[SK – KB] And Kellie, are you still convinced by [a career in surgery] as you carry on through your journey?
[SK – JM] So how would you entice somebody who's listening to this podcast, Jane, to come and join the world of general surgery?
[SK – SZ] Were you a member of a surgical society? Or did you have any input from that side of things?
[SK – Greg Ekatah] And so, what's it been like being a colorectal [surgeon]? Is it colorectal all the way through, or would you say you’re general at the beginning? How would you describe your training?
[SH – GE] So, what's next for you; a fellowship or consultancy straight off the bat? What are you doing?
[SK – GE] For our younger listeners starting out wanting to emulate Greg, what advice would you be giving them?
[SK – GE] Throughout the series one of the questions has always been: what's the downside? Looking from outside at general surgery, or colorectal [it seems to be] the on-call, I think we feel you're probably the most punished … Do you [agree]?
[SK – GE] I think the only other thing to ask is challenges, particularly regarding diversity and the challenges of female-to-male ratios in specialties and also ethnicities. What’s your experience of that?
[SK – GE] We should really end by asking Greg his favourite instrument as we always seem to ask other people. So, Greg, what is your favourite instrument?