|Building strong foundations|
|Wednesday, 05 December 2012|
A focus on getting fundamental skills right is one of many factors behind the continuing success of the Basic Surgical Skills course
In August, the Basic Surgical Skills course launched version 5 of its intercollegiate curriculum, and earlier in the summer the course was held for the second time in East Jerusalem, attracting both trainees and consultants from the surrounding area. It has run, or continues to run, in countries across Europe, the Far East and India, with 336 participants completing the course last year.
Such is the BSS’ importance to early-stage trainees that it is held more than any other course in the RCSEd’s portfolio. In fact, it is such a regular feature in the College’s diary that it is easy to forget that it has only been running since the mid-1990s.
“The ethos is that if you get the fundamental building blocks right, it’s much easier to add more sophisticated surgical techniques on top of those – and that’s what the BSS does”, explains David Smith, RCSEd’s Convener of Education.
As witnessed when the BSS ran in East Jerusalem, there can be as much interest from established consultants as there is from trainees. Of course, this is not to receive training but to gain exposure to the teaching and training methods that are covered.
David Smith continues, “Before the BSS, a lot of this type of teaching was done in theatre in what can be a more difficult environment; the patient is there and there can be time pressures on those present.
“In the BSS, you get teaching in an environment which is more conducive to learning and understanding. The teacher-student interface is much easier – there’s more time for questions and answers. This can also benefit the consultants who come on the course to learn more about training techniques.”
The BSS also has considerable flexibility in terms of where and how it is delivered, explains David Smith: “The usual premise of it running abroad is that we will help to set it up and teach the local staff how to prepare and run the course. The next time the BSS runs in that location, we can usually reduce our direct involvement although we do revisit centres at regular intervals to review how it is being run.”
Such an approach improves the College’s profile in regions where it might not otherwise have a presence and improves links with the host institutions. But, aside from its broad appeal and exportability, David Smith is keen to emphasise another reason why the course is so successful: “It is one of the best exemplars we have of intercollegiate partnership; it’s been run jointly in terms of design and content since the start. This helps to ensure that we adapt the content at the right time and make sure it’s commensurate with what trainees need.”