“It will be good training for Moscow.”

February 21, 2016 § 7 Comments

The title of this blog post is probably one of my favorite sentences of medical school. It may be strange to consider and refer to sentences in that way, but it all depends on what stands behind it. This sentence was included in an e-mail from Krisztina, the PhD student we do research with at the Department of Surgical Research and Techniques. The e-mail was sent to Skjalg, Amir and myself and regarded an international surgical competition that we were to help out with that coming Friday.

Rewind a couple weeks, to the week before school started. I was back from Amsterdam and traveling around the city gathering the last of my signatures for my index book (a bound grade book that must be personally signed by all of the departments we have classes in that semester). For my last stop, I dropped by the anatomy department to get my teaching assistant signature from the course director. While in her office, we began to discuss various conferences she was partaking in and somehow the subject of me wanting to be a surgeon came up. “Oh! I have something you might be interested in!” she exclaimed as she spun around in her chair and grabbed an invitation. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was an invitation to partake in a surgical olympiad in Moscow. In that moment, I was honestly so shocked by the mere prospect that I didn’t really know how to respond. I managed to convey my supreme interest through the surprise – and thus began the process!

The course director contacted my research supervisor (the head of the surgical department I mentioned earlier). Soon after, it was agreed that Skjalg, Amir, Tiago (fellow research students) and I would go to Moscow for the olympiad and that the top three Hungarian winners of the surgical competition held here in Budapest would join us.

I haven’t really mentioned the Moscow trip to anyone, nor the surgical competition that took place here in Budapest on the 12th, because I wanted to wait until it was a sure thing. I’ve learned to keep my expectations/excitement low until things are confirmed (to avoid the void that is felt when you lose that apartment you loved so much and that trip you couldn’t wait to go on).

The surgical competition that took place on the 12th was hosted by the surgical department we do research with. We knew that we would be helping out with the competition, but didn’t realize that we would be competing until this email that Krisztina sent us (only two days before). The email detailed the tasks we would help with and how we should get to the research site located outside of the city. “It will be good training for Moscow,” she wrote. Such a simple sentence and yet it held so much opportunity.

Fast forward a little over a week. The first competition is over and the tickets are booked. It’s happening. We are going to Moscow in April to compete in a surgical olympiad – and I couldn’t be more excited!

Here are some photos from the first competition. It was – in itself – an amazing experience and I feel so lucky that we got to take part in it.

With only two days to prepare, we had to get a bit creative. We were able to train in the pelvitrainer lab at school for a couple hours on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough. When I got home that night, I was determined to come up with something. So, I grabbed my ipad, a chicken breast and some needle holders and got to work. It was great for getting an idea of how to do suturing in 2D, but the tools were nothing like the ones used for laparoscopy.

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On the train on the way to the research center, we practiced some more on my scarf. Had to get in as much practice as possible!

To start the day, we watched a presentation detailing the tasks we would do that day. There were maybe 10 Hungarian students, Amir, Skjalg and I, and 3 students from Moscow (a Russian, an Indian, and a Brazilian). We all competed, but the Hungarians competed against each other for the chance to go to Moscow.

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There were four tasks in total:

  1. Peg transfer: done in the pelvitrainer (similar to this).
  2. Laparoscopic suturing on a glove: there were lines of black dots and we had to make sutures between them. We were given one practice round and then timed on the second attempt.
  3. Laparoscopic suturing of a pig stomach: this was similar to the glove, but the sutures had to be made on the stomach.
  4. Laparoscopic suturing in an anesthetized pig: the abdomen was blown up with air (pneumoperitoneum) and sutures were made in her bladder.

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The three Hungarian students on the right (standing next to Krisztina in the green top) will be going with us to Moscow. They were really talented and I’m looking really forward to getting to know some Hungarian students. Plus, I’m really excited to visit the students we met from Russia! We really hit it off with them and have plans to see them when we are there.

As a thank you for our help and participation in the competition, we got these little certificates 😉

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