A surgical skills workshop in Pakistan

<Aamna Aziz Jaspal>

Access to safe and affordable surgical care is the right of every individual in the world. But how can we -as students- make it a reality?

IFMSA Pakistan Global Surgery National Working Group -InciSioN chapter in Pakistan- believes surgical education is key, especially in developing countries where the burden of disease is high and the density of surgeons is low. Not only will it motivate medical students towards a surgical career but it will also improve their skills so they can contribute more effectively in their respective surgical teams. Therefore, we came up with the idea of basic surgical skills workshop for medical students. The aim was to spread the message of Global Surgery through a productive activity. 

Recently, we conducted our third basic surgical skills workshop. The past two workshops held in 2016 in different medical institutions of Pakistan achieved great success in terms of advocacy and education regarding Global Surgery. Punjab Medical College, a medical institution in the city of Faisalabad Pakistan, conducted the workshop on Saturday, 29th April 2017 in collaboration with IFMSA Pakistan Global Surgery National Working Group. However, in addition to basic surgical skills, this time we took the workshop to another level, by including the training for prehospital management of emergency circumstances like fractures or dislocation of the hand, forearm, arm, shoulder, collar bone, skull, jaw, ankle, and knees. The students were taught how to apply slings and bandages as well as how to control hemorrhagic bleeding in the limbs and head region using bandage.

Due to the limitation of trainers and to ensure the quality of the workshop, only 16 spots were available, all of which filled within one day. Even though it was a Saturday, students arrived at 9 a.m. sharp for the workshop which ran for 5 hours! The workshop began with a lecture aided with visual demonstrations to teach the different techniques including administration of injections in relation to surface landmarks, management of fractures followed by reef and surgical knot tying exercises which were then advanced to knot tying with instruments.

The biggest achievement of this workshop was that each of the 16 participants got a chance to practice each technique individually. The facilitator for the event Dr. Abdullah Saeed, a surgeon at Allied hospital, Faisalabad would demonstrate each skill and ensure that everyone had learnt it by watching them practicing in front of him. This hands-on approach of the workshop was the highlight among students who were even eager for more. The positive feedback received from the students assured us to continue organizing such workshops in the future, to spread the message of Global Surgery further and to empower the students to help their patients in need,  even before they reach a medical facility.

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