By Thomas Crotty, Core Surgical Trainee 2 (ST2), Sligo University Hospital, Co. Sligo, Ireland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced unprecedented change upon surgical training. As elective procedures were curtailed, surgical trainees were redeployed to support overburdened specialties managing the swathes of patients requiring hospitalisation and critical care support. Dependent on hands-on exposure to a high frequency of surgical operations, opportunities to employ the conventional approach to surgical training has been scarce.
The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has swiftly adapted elements of their training approach to meet the needs of ENT trainees. On 14 October 2020, RCSI hosted a one-day blended workshop, incorporating both didactic and interactive elements, on tracheostomy and emergency airway management. Prior to convening at 26 York Street, St Stephens Green, RCSI’s state-of-the-art simulation centre, each of the trainees and consultant ENT surgeons completed the mandatory online COVID-19 screening questionnaire. The day commenced with a comprehensive introduction to the principles of tracheostomy management, led by Mr Joseph Hughes, Consultant ENT Surgeon, University Hospital Limerick. The favourable trainee-to-trainer ratio formed the perfect conditions for the high-end practical sessions that followed. Training in difficult intubation, surgical and percutaneous tracheostomy, and tracheostomy devices and their complications, was complemented by high-fidelity simulation-based flexible nasendoscopy, panendoscopy and tonsillectomy procedures.
The feedback from the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. Major highlights from surgical trainees included the ceaseless consultant oversight and the opportunity to familiarise themselves with a wide variety of devices. We hope that RCSI will continue to safely nourish and support the next generation of surgeons during these tumultuous times.
We would like to thank the RCSI, and specifically Mr Joseph Hughes for organising a very well-run event. It was an informative day that I know will benefit us in our future practices, particularly in the current era.