|National asset - Mosab Elgalli discusses the College's IMGS scheme, healthcare in Sudan, and his Scottish roots|
|Friday, 19 August 2011|
Mosab Elgalli graduated with distinction in surgery from Khartoum’s Omdurman Islamic University in 1999. Over the next two years he completed housemanship and rotations. He worked through Registrar and SpR rotations at Khartoum Teaching Hospital, gaining a Clinical MD in Orthopaedics in 2007. The following year, he was appointed as Specialist in the Department of Orthopaedics at Khartoum North Teaching Hospital.
In January 2011, Mr Elgalli flew to
After eight months, is the placement living up to Mr Elgalli’s expectations? ‘Yes, it’s going very well,’ he’s quick to answer. ‘I am grateful to everyone at the RCSEd and at Raigmore who helped make this possible. I am gaining a lot of experience in hips and knees arthroplasty. Also, I have the opportunity to work with Mr Kevin Baird, upper limb surgeon, and receive training in shoulder surgery. I am being exposed to other specialties as well.’
A typical week involves three days in theatre and the rest of the time in clinics, but the placement is providing a golden opportunity to focus on gaining operative skill. ‘Because I don’t have on call responsibilities, I find that I have more time to spend in theatre,’ Mr Elgalli observes.
The College’s IMGSS was first brought to Mr Elgalli’s attention by RCSEd Vice President Ian Ritchie at an orthopaedics conference in
Despite the heavy clinical commitments of the placement, Mr Elgalli’s consultants have made a point of welcoming him into the local, as well as the hospital, community: ‘Mr Kent took me through the clinical work, but at the same time he introduced me to his family and to people from the local area. One of the early highlights was going to a Burns Supper with haggis and ceilidh dancing!’
On his return home, Mossab Elgalli is likely to find that his newly-acquired skills are in demand, and Sudan has recognised the value of programmes such as the IMGSS at the highest levels. He explains: ‘During the application process, I met Sudan’s Chief Medical Officer to discuss the lack of elective orthopaedic services and he was very supportive of the placement and encouraged me to go so that I could return to Sudan with the much-needed skills. So I’m hoping the placement will benefit the people of Sudan, as well as helping my own career.’
However, he believes the IMGSS offers mutual benefits, both for the candidate and the hospital trust that hosts them. ‘The candidates can bring new experiences from their own countries but also help to relieve the workloads of the consultants they are working with.’
Despite the Working Time Regulation and looming public spending cuts, the UK’s NHS still compares favourably with what Mr Elgalli is accustomed to in Sudan: ‘The facilities in the UK’s public hospitals are excellent. For Sudanese surgeons, public hospital work is regarded as almost like charity work and, despite working long hours at public hospitals, most of their income will come from private practice.’
He continues, ‘The Sudanese system is based on healthcare insurance but not everyone has cover. For those without cover, emergency surgery is funded by the government, but some of the treatment and medicines required after emergency surgery isn’t subsidised and patients will need to meet these costs themselves.’
It was concern for the plight of Sudan’s poor that attracted Mr Elgalli to medicine and the hands-on, practical nature of surgery: ‘I felt surgeons could be self-reliant on their own skills to help patients, rather than relying on the equipment and technology that is needed in other branches of medicine. A good surgeon will always perform good surgery. It’s a very direct way of making someone better, and it’s satisfying to see fast outcomes – especially in orthopaedics.’
Delving a bit further into why he entered medicine, the interview throws up an unexpected prior connection with Scotland. It’s not uncommon to find that a surgeon is from a medical family, or followed in parental footsteps by entering surgery. Was this the case for Mr Elgalli? ‘My father was actually a professor of philosophy,’ he laughs. ‘You couldn’t find a career further removed from surgery! He originally studied in
Overview: The IMGSS
The College’s International Medical Graduate Sponsorship Scheme has been running for over 20 years; facilitating GMC registration and now also supporting the Medical Training Initiative Scheme. The RCSEd is currently the only Royal Surgical College actively providing sponsorship for overseas doctors coming to the UK to train in a surgical specialty for a temporary period of time.
The Visiting Fellowship Scheme, through which Dr Elgalli came to the UK, is a branch of the sponsorship scheme which has been in operation since 2007. The Visiting Fellowship scheme relies on Fellows notifying the College of any posts which would be suitable for training international medical graduates from overseas at ST3 level or above for a period of up to two years.