Conference Report – Australasian Students Surgical Conference

Leaha-Marie Hill-Buxton

In May, I was fortunate enough to attend the Australian Students Surgical Conference (ASSC) in Adelaide. Although I spent the majority of the weekend disrupting presentations with my nose trumpet due to a poorly timed virus, it was still an incredible experience and one I am very grateful to have had.

Of the oral presentations that I attended, two in particular have continued to resonate with me:

The first was a discussion of women in traditionally male-dominated surgical careers, and was given by Dr. Ruth Bollard. As a young woman considering a surgical career, I was looking forward to hearing the perspective of another woman who was continuing to break down gender stereotypes in medicine. The overall theme of Dr. Bollard’s presentation was that surgery is ‘no longer a man’s world’, and while I admired her passion with which she delivered this message, overall I found the content of her presentation rather lacking. I was expecting to hear about how women and men alike were trying to change surgery to make it accommodating for women in a way that it had not been previously; I wanted to hear advice on how to navigate the complex path ahead. Although none of this was included, it was still amazing to listen to the experiences of a woman who had achieved an incredible amount in such a challenging area of medicine.

The second speaker, Professor Mark Shrime, is a head and neck surgeon who continues to spend a significant amount of his work life in. He spoke about surgery represents a very real and cost-effective way to address the discrepancies that exist between so called developed and developing countries. Not only was Professor Shrime’s presentation visually engaging, his statistics were incredible, and made me think of the orthopaedic surgeon Andrew Beischer, who does similar work in South-East Asia. Disappointingly, I did hear mutterings around me from students who stated that such work would not get them the Ferrari’s they desired, but to me this presentation has inspired me and I hope that in my ongoing career I continue in the path of Professor Shrime.

Overall, the ASSC was a very interesting and insightful weekend. Although I did miss all the social events and a great majority of the skills sessions as I was very unwell, the presentations given by the keynote speakers were engaging and the opportunities to practice surgical skills unmatched by medical school training. I would highly recommend this conference to any considering a career in surgery and thank MeDUSA for supporting me attendance.