|Support where it’s needed|
|Tuesday, 11 January 2011|
With difficult times looming for trainees, the Association of Surgeons in Training is stronger than ever and ready to represent its members, so writes ASiT President Charlie Giddings
ASiT was originally established in 1976 as a forum for senior registrars to meet socially and try to improve surgical training in the interests of high quality patient care. ASiT now counts numerous professional leaders and Royal College Presidents amongst our alumni. The Association is the second largest surgical specialty association in the UK, with over 2,200 members from all nine surgical specialties. We are the only body in the UK to represent trainees at both Core and Higher Surgical Training levels, with orthopaedic registrars also represented by BOTA. ASiT functions through the input of its elected specialty and regional representatives, and serves the needs of trainees beyond its formal membership.
"We hope to see support for the future of the profession from our seniors and the Royal Colleges, to avoid surgical training discriminating against those who are not independently wealthy"
Unlike many other junior doctor trainee groups, ASiT remains independent of the Surgical Royal Colleges and other professional medical organisations, and is run by trainees for trainees. ASiT promotes the views of its membership through representation on the councils of the Surgical Royal Colleges, ISCP, JCST, and numerous other working parties and committees.
We have written multiple position statements to concisely and consistently portray the position of surgeons in training. Our most recent work includes our response to Professor Sir John Temple’s report ‘Time for Training: A Review of the Impact of the European Working Time Directive on the Quality of Training’ and ‘The Future of Surgical Training’, which outlines our vision for how surgical training should be delivered in the next decade.
ASiT offers many benefits to our members in addition to defending the quality of surgical training. We also reach trainees through regional meetings and our website and have gained wide popularity and established ourselves as a provider of high-quality, low-cost courses and stimulating meetings.
The highlight of our year is the ASiT Annual Surgical Conference, with nearly 400 delegates attending a weekend of courses, lectures and topical debate on all aspects of surgery and surgical training. Our next annual conference will be held in Sheffield, 16-17 April 2011, and we will be running our five high-quality, inexpensive pre-conference courses on Friday 15 April.
Planning for the future
We are about to publish the findings of our most recent survey, which over a thousand of you completed – thank you! The results are no surprise; many trainees are financially supporting their training despite leaving medical school with an average debt of over £17,000. Many respondents easily exceeded this average; a personal friend left medical school with a debt of £52,500. The ramifications of this are broad; this CT2 with a very poor credit rating explained to me that he is unable get a loan, credit card or mortgage, and whilst he has a mobile phone he is unable even to even switch providers.
‘Surely this is an investment in your future’, I have heard in meetings – well, it is, and one that our predecessors have made but not to such an extent; we anticipate this will be worse when graduates start to qualify having paid top-up fees, uncapped or not. In the context of declining salaries, a two-year public sector pay freeze, loss of free house officer accommodation, and increasing costs of training, examinations and living we expect worse in the future. We hope to see support for the future of the profession from our seniors and the Royal Colleges, to avoid surgical training discriminating against those who are not independently wealthy.
We are also conducting a review of the surgical workforce and will have our position statement available in the future. Having been invited to attend the RCSEd workforce subcommittee meetings, we hope to contribute to their work on this important issue too.
Our previous work, position statements and other advice documents are available on our website. The benefits of ASiT far outweigh the competitive subscription of £40 per year – I urge all trainees to join.
ASiT membership benefits
• Cheaper surgical textbooks – publisher’s discount (as much as 30%)
• Cheaper British Journal of Surgery – discounted subscription
• Travelling fellowships – two prizes worth £2500 each year
• Medical student surgical elective prizes worth up to £500
• Free places or reduced rates on multiple courses
• Discounted equipment (e.g. surgical loupes)
• A forum to present your research orally, or as posters and abstracts in the International Journal of Surgery
• ASiT e-group where you can keep up with the latest in surgical training.
ASiT’s Annual Conference will take place in Sheffield from 16-17 April 2011, with pre-conference courses on Friday 15 April. For further information on ASiT’s current activities, how to join and the ASiT conference, please visit
Charlie Giddings FRCS (ORL-HNS) Year 6 Specialist Registrar in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery Bart’s and The London NHS Trust and President, Association of Surgeons in Training