|Friday, 01 October 2010|
The way in which surgical trainees input into the decision making processes of the College is evolving. Although this has raised concerns amongst some, it also offers the potential to improve the overall quality of trainee representation, so writes Paul Brennan
Akin to surgical specialties, trainees previously had a Specialty Advisory Board group (SAB) as a forum for discussion and representation. All SAB chairs sat on open Council meetings, along with BOTA and ASiT representatives. A remodelling of College internal structures has replaced SABs with surgical specialty groups (SSGs), each of which should have a trainee member. Council members acting as a conduit for information now sit on SSGs, not SSG chairs on Council. Trainees and SSG chairs may have ‘lost’ their seat at the top table, but the intention is to open up a wider forum for discussion to then input into a streamlined Council decision-making process.
‘The precise details still need to be ironed out, but there seems no doubt that the ball lies very much in the trainees’ court to influence this process’For this new model to work, SSG trainee members need a mandate, accountability, and independence from the College. It will therefore be up to trainee Fellows and Members to decide who their representatives are via their speciality trainee organisations. Electronic-forums for these representatives to then ‘meet’ could be more effective than formal meetings for geographically displaced, time-poor trainees. College trainee members also need electronic access to their representatives, with a reciprocal distribution of information from the College. How the individual trainees develop their corporate identity remains to be debated, and the vexed question of trainee representation on Council may persist. However, trainee representation when required on short-life working groups might be more effective. The precise details still need to be ironed out, but there seems no doubt that the ball lies very much in the trainees’ court to influence this process.
In October, the College President hosts a meeting between Council and SSG trainees, along with other trainee representatives. The convening of this forum, rather than an old-style open Council meeting, reflects a new strategy by the College, and one that appears to have worked so far. Trainees will help formulate the agenda, which will perhaps include training in 48 hours and risks of medical unemployment, as well as other issues pertinent to both trainees and the College. The representatives’ mandate must be accompanied by a clearly defined remit and trainees must first and foremost represent College membership. Trainees are a central part, although just one part, of the College’s future. Communication is the key.
Paul Brennan, Honorary Specialist Registrar Neurosurgery, Trainee representative on Neurosurgical SSG