West Midlands Vascular Research and Innovation Consortium (VaRICS) Meeting was held at MacDonald Burlington Hotel on the 18th of March this year. Healthcare professionals including vascular surgeons, junior doctors, vascular specialist nurses and other allied health professionals from six West Midlands vascular units gathered to discuss current research in the field of vascular surgery and to identify any areas of potential research collaboration. The day started off with an abstract session from various training levels and was followed by intriguing talks by key speakers. These talks were interspersed with updates from VaRICS and the West Midlands Clinical Collaborative.
I attended the meeting with a fortunate opportunity to present a project on “Management of Neonatal Limb Ischemia Secondary to Peripheral Arterial Lines: A Systematic Review”. There were ten other oral presentations ranging from national research projects to hospital audit projects. Majority of the projects were presented by junior doctors who worked in or are currently working in West Midlands vascular units. It was interesting to see that due to the nature of the regional meeting, many of their research supervisors were also present in the meeting. This led to a lively Q&A session with many thought-provoking questions and interactions among the audience. VaRICS was the first regional meeting I’ve attended, and I was pleasantly surprised by the heated exchange of views and was excited to see the development of such discussions into future research.
The meeting also included two interesting talks. Professor John Buckley from the University of Chester stressed the importance of activity in preventing cardiovascular disease and suggested simple measures to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Another talk was delivered by Professor Chris Wood who is not only a retired surgeon, but also a composer and the founder of the company 30 TECHNOLOGY. Professor Wood’s talk focused on the efficacy of nitrous oxide technology in tissue healing. This gave an incredible insight into what the future holds for the field of vascular surgery. During the coffee break, I had the amazing opportunity to network with other attendees and ask follow-up questions on their presentations. I have since realised the advantage of attending face to face meetings – it is much easier to approach and start a conversation with others! I also had the opportunity to speak to Mr Alex Crichton and Mr Macieej Juszczak who organised the VaRICS meeting. They kindly helped me understand the importance of getting involved in research from an early stage and connected me to future research opportunities which I was incredibly excited about. I also spoke to tissue viability nurses and vascular specialist nurses to hear their opinion and experience on research in wound care.
Overall, VaRICS meeting was a great chance for me to meet researchers in the field and gain opportunities to join other projects. VaRICS meetings are currently planned to run every six months. Organisers of VaRICS expressed that although the registration for the meeting is currently spread only by word of mouth, they hope to establish a better means of inviting more people interested in vascular surgery research. With whisperings of the confirmed date and location of the next VaRICS meeting already spreading, to those who are interested in vascular surgery research and wanting to get in touch with inspiring doctors – mark your calendars!
Seunghee Han is a fourth-year medical student at University of Birmingham with an interest in plastic surgery, orthopaedic surgery and surgical innovation. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, going to the gym, and watching musicals.