What is Surgery Update?

“Surgery Update” started in 1984 in MAMC as a teaching training programme for Surgery residents. It has been an annual event, and evolved over the years to its present avatar, covering 6 days. It is primarily designed to provide a mix of theory lectures and practical case taking tips. Since the target audience is PG surgery residents, esoteric and rare topics are avoided. Instead, topics are selected to cover the essentials; we aim to cover the entire course over 3 years. Lectures, Videos, Cases are taken by invited faculty who are experienced in teaching PG students, all of whom are national or institutional PG examiners.

It should be noted that Surgery Update is NOT a replacement for regular postgraduate teaching in the colleges and hospitals. In fact, you would appreciate the content most if you have read the topic before coming for the Update. Come prepared, and ask questions! There is no silly question; this will be the time for you to clarify all your doubts. Medicine is not black & white; the experienced faculty will help you in understanding the concepts, and which are the accepted answers during exam vivas.

As you would have understood, Surgery Update is not a conference or CME in the conventional sense of the word. Delegates are expected to behave as they would in a class. Please refer to the Do’s and Dont’s for more information.

Brief History of Surgery Update

The history of Surgery Update is at once illuminating and illustrious. What was begun as an informal one day exercise has now become a mammoth programme lasting six days. It was started with the twin objectives of updating as well as revising the existing knowledge in Surgery, aimed specifically at the rising surgeon – the Post-Graduate. Today all levels of surgeons benefit from it, be it faculty members or practicing surgeons. Post Graduates from the entire nation register for the programme.

It is the felt need of many postgraduates around the country that they lack structured didactic inputs. Universities make genuine efforts to provide the same but due to overwhelming clinical pressures didactics take the back seat. Learning is more by way of example, observation and inference and sometimes by discussion. The theoretical framework is left to be acquired by the postgraduate. But can an edifice be built without foundation? 

It is in this scenario that Surgery Update was born. It could not have been born at a more appropriate time. In today’s scenario of multiple conferences and updates it is difficult to imagine a time when these were few and far between. But a conference is not useful to a postgraduate to the extent as the Update is, since it addresses the recent developments and analyses the experiences of different surgeons. What the postgraduate may be looking for is some baseline data as well. This is where our Surgery Update scores. We aim to fill in the gaps in the knowledge as well as revise. Evidence from feedback forms supports this. We have now participants who have attended a series of updates starting as Post Graduates and now running their own nursing homes. 

The faculty for the scientific sessions came in good spirit for the cause of education since we have no frills to offer. We had only one slide projector operated by one of our technicians who used to sit through the entire week. God forbid if he fell asleep or the projector broke down. But no, we had no mishaps. Now we have professional operators on double projection. We have video projection, multiple monitors and, for operative demonstrations, even large TV screens, even the computer projection.

The most popular part of the Update that has remained unchanged over the years is the case discussion session. This is an exercise that has received praise in all the evaluations. These come after another update special: the lunch. Over the years a carefully prepared and tasty lunch has been served albeit heavy. This may, perhaps, change to a more business like lunch. We used to provide accommodation in the hostels – not luxurious but adequate. With the increased intake of students, hostel rooms are not available. Moreover, delegates now expect a certain minimum of comfort, which may not be available in the hostels at short notice.

It is the rising tide of Surgery Technology that has changed the face of modern surgery. Surgeons suffer from information overload and exult in technological developments. It is at once agony and ecstasy. We, the organizers of Surgery Update, had to respond to this new development because today’s trainee surgeon has to face up to this challenge. The pendulum has swung from bigger the better to small is beautiful. The advent of transurethral prostate surgery heralded this change and even as percutaneous procedures were being perfected laparoscopy has taken the surgeons as well as the patients by storm. We demonstrated the first retropubic prostatectomy and total thyroidectomy live. The procedures were transmitted from the theatre on to a large screen and the two-way communication ensured the interaction between the delegates and the surgeons. When this was done for first time it took a whole night to set up the facilities, Today it is passe and laparoscopic procedures done by outstanding surgeons are shown. The focus is still the Post Graduate in the sense that while the established procedures are shown, the goal is to show what is possible and not what is probable. 

Commitment to the cause of medical education by the members of the Department of Surgery is the reason why this exercise has continued for so many consecutive years – the longest for any such exercise in the country. Successive Heads of Department without fail have considered it their duty to continue this activity year after year, and the faculty has risen as one to see that this happens despite overwhelming financial pressures.  Organizing Secretaries volunteered to shoulder this awesome responsibility.