|Growing our global connections|
|Thursday, 13 June 2013|
Aoife O’Sullivan catches up with International Activities Manager Catriona Gorry to discuss RCSEd’s recently launched International School of Surgery
Earlier this year, the RCSEd launched the International School of Surgery (ISS) to coordinate and develop the College’s extensive portfolio of international activities and to provide a comprehensive package of support to our global membership.
This exciting new venture is overseen by Vice President, Mr Mike Lavelle-Jones, who drives the strategy and direction of the ISS, while International Activities Manager, Catriona Gorry coordinates the day-to-day operations.
Explaining more about the decision to launch the ISS, Catriona expounds: “Having a specific centralised International School of Surgery has really helped us raise the profile of what RCSEd does internationally, and the response so far from our international community and our UK membership has been really positive. From the feedback received, there was a sense that this is something that has been wanted at the College and by the membership for a while; the desire for there to be a coordinated approach for interacting with our international membership and in dealing with international issues by having a dedicated school has been welcomed across the board.”
The task of coordinating RCSEd’s wide-ranging international activities isn’t an easy feat, but one Catriona has apt skills for from her previous role at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), where she worked in a variety of roles for over six years. In her most recent FCO role, she was Child Abduction Caseworker based in London, and immediately before that was Change Manager at the British High Commission in Islamabad for 11 months. She has also spent time working in Kabul for the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“I enjoyed a fascinating and varied time at the FCO, so knew it would have taken a very interesting job to tempt me away. I was in no hurry to leave London or the Foreign Office and hadn’t been proactively looking for a new role, but when I saw the advert for the RCSEd international activities manager job advertised, the more I read about the role and the College, the more interested I became; the role description and extensive work of the College in general really sparked my interest.
“I naturally was attracted to the international focus of the job, given that is where my background is. But when considering how the role fitted with what RCSEd does, I thought it would be a really interesting opportunity to have a direct and tangible impact on an interesting area of work. The varied nature and wide scope of the role appealed to me – there seemed to be a lot of potential for it to grow and evolve. I studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and my family are based in Scotland, which also helped my decision to move back to Edinburgh.”
The ISS brings together all of RCSEd’s international activities, including the surgical and dental examinations it holds in 27 countries, as well as the coordination and promotion of international educational courses and events, and the international engagements of RCSEd Office Bearers and Council. To bring all these activities under one roof takes a lot of coordination, making it one of the main challenges of the job.
“RCSEd already does a huge amount of work across the globe – understandably given that we have been around and growing for over 500 years and have Fellows and Members in approximately 100 countries. The fact that there is just so much activity undertaken internationally by the College means you need to have an astute understanding of that and possess the ability to coordinate it all. It is my job to know what is going on, where it’s happening, and how we can make the most of each and every opportunity – that’s one of the main challenges. Everything’s quite fast paced and everyone’s very adept at dealing with their own area of work, so trying to gain an oversight of everything that’s going on and coordinating it can be challenging. Things move and change quickly, but that is also what makes the job so interesting!”
With such a dynamic role, no two days are the same but it is this variety which Catriona enjoys most about the position. One day may involve meetings about global activity and responding to enquiries from the international membership, while the next day might involve developing and writing content for the ISS website, or meeting representatives from other organisations to discuss collaborative working.
“Aside from engaging with our existing international membership, since the launch of the ISS there have been a lot of prospects for us to engage with other organisations. Partnership working is a crucial element if we want to achieve the ultimate aim of improving standards of surgical care and outcomes for patients on a global scale. There are a lot of other organisations working to the same ends, so I think the ISS has a prime opportunity for collaborative work internationally; for example, we are currently working with the Department of Medical Science in Myanmar, with the shared objective to develop surgical training and assessment there.
“We are also working with other organisations and institutions to help us raise our profile internationally – explaining what we do, what we can do, and what we want to do. There’s plenty of opportunity to work together to the same ends and to let people know we’re here and open for business across the world and encourage people to work with us. We also seek to find partnership opportunities within the UK as well. I believe if we work together with others who have similar global objectives it can have a greater impact.”
Launching the ISS has certainly provided RCSEd with a dedicated resource for different forums and for taking part in a variety of discussions, which perhaps the College did not have the opportunity for before. It is hoped that the ISS will grow and evolve with input and ideas from RCSEd’s current and prospective membership and also from their growing network of International Surgical Advisers (ISAs): “They are our window to that country – they help us to understand local developments in that country, the feelings of local membership, and the country’s training requirements. They also help us promote what the College is doing in that country.”
“I hope that with exciting new developments in remote and online learning and communication, we will also be able to have greater engagement with our international membership and partners than ever before. It really is a diverse range of work we are setting out to achieve.
“Having involvement and an oversight of such a range of international work makes this role never dull and hopefully it will remain that way. It is rewarding to work with such talented and dedicated people at the College, particularly the surgeons, whose energy and commitment is inspiring. There is a real opportunity with the ISS to ensure that the College is using its energy and expertise in effective and sustainable ways internationally. ISS emphasises that we are not just a College sitting in Edinburgh, but we are a proactive global organisation dealing with worldwide issues.”