Highlights from the HYMS 6th National Undergraduate Surgical Conference

On Saturday the 29th of January 2019, Hull York Medical School (HYMS) hosted its 6th National Undergraduate Surgical Conference in Hull. This year’s conference was located at the newly built Allam Medical Building, opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2017. Over 140 delegates were in attendance, including medical students and local sixth form students. The conference had a full schedule with four inspirational speakers, excelling in a variety of surgical fields. Numerous workshops were held, catering to a broad range of interests. Furthermore, students had the opportunity to present their work as part of the annual poster competition.

The day began with a warm welcome from the president of the Conference Committee, Vassili Crispi. The stage was then given to Professor Ian Chetter, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and Honorary President of the Hull Surgical Society, who briefly spoke about the fascinating history of Hull.

Professor Giles Toogood

Our first keynote speaker of the day was Professor Giles Toogood, a former first-class and List A cricketer for Oxford University. His fascinating talk touched upon a number of challenges he overcame, and sacrifices made, to achieve success in both cricket and his medical career. He currently works as a hepatobiliary surgeon in Leeds, specialising in liver transplantation. Professor Toogood explained the benefits for the patient of liver transplantation in end-stage liver disease, which would otherwise have a very poor prognosis. Interestingly, the anatomy of the liver combined with more recent methods of transplantation now allow for the production of two grafts by dividing donors’ livers. More recently, technology has allowed for livers to be tested before transplant, to ensure they are functioning effectively.

Mrs Lisa Hadfield-Law

Our next keynote speaker was Mrs Lisa Hadfield-Law, Consultant Surgical Educationalist. Mrs Hadfield-Law gave an engaging and highly informative talk about the aspects of a successful surgical trainee and how to prepare prospective students. She began by explaining the need for a high level of emotional intelligence; demonstrating that a surgeon’s ability to understand a situation and respond appropriately is invaluable whilst progressing through their chosen speciality. Other vital attributes of a successful surgical trainee include integrity, insight, and motivation. Demonstrating these qualities largely come through feedback and reflection. Mrs Hadfield-Law showed the benefits of regular reflection, starting at the level of a medical student, which can demonstrate personal and professional development throughout a trainee’s career.

Ms Betsy Evans

Ms Betsy Evans gave a fascinating keynote on her career as a cardiothoracic surgeon. Her presentation included incredible videos from her operations, which were used to describe how the heart is bypassed and stopped during mitral valve repair or replacement. More recently, less invasive procedures include transcutaneous valvular replacements, which are being developed for the mitral valve in patients who are not fit for major surgery. She inspired the audience with her journey right from school to consultancy, overcoming several challenges including breaking gender stereotypes and balancing her family with her career. A growing proportion of surgeons within the UK are female and at present there are 12 female cardiac surgeons.

Mr Simon Fleming

As the day drew to a close, our final keynote speaker, orthopaedic registrar Mr Simon Fleming, grabbed our attention with an important topic – bullying. Unfortunately, surgery and life in the NHS is not immune to bullying. Mr Fleming used his time on stage to explain the crisis, including issues with anonymity when reporting issues. He defined what is not acceptable within the workplace and explained how his anonymously collated data has allowed employees to come forward with instances of bullying, undermining. and harassment. Mr Fleming’s #HammerItOut campaign aims to create a positive culture within the workforce and to empower all individuals be able to raise any concerns.

Workshops & Poster Presentations

Throughout the day, numerous workshops provided engaging and exciting insights into various fields of surgery. This included a virtual reality workshop, where software designers have teamed up with doctors to produce a simulation where trainees could practice surgical procedures in a virtual theatre. The software also included several procedures which could be viewed from various angles to understand the surgery. Other workshops included Advanced Trauma Life Support, where students were able to learn and practice the management of trauma patients in an acute scenario.

Over an appetising buffet lunch, many students presented posters, either from work done during a Student Selected Internship Program, an intercalation year, or other research opportunities. After speaking to each of the judges about their research, the top three were presented with a prize and the overall winner was Tobi Adeniyi-Zaccheus. Congratulations to all student presenters.

Following on from previous years, the 6th National Undergraduate Surgical Conference delivered a fantastic series of lectures and workshops. We’d like to thank the organising committee and we look forward to next year’s conference!


Dr Shiv Patel is an FY1 doctor and 2019 graduate from Hull York Medical School.