An innovative scheme which gives medical students experience of heart surgery early in their training has been praised.
The Lancashire Cardiac Centre, based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, is one of the first such specialist centres in Britain to offer the experience to medical students in an effort to help them gain valuable experience in cardiothoracic surgery early in their training.
Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Mr Antony Walker and Cardiothoracic Registrar, Miss Gillian Hardman, from the Cardiac Centre, decided to set up the course to encourage more students to think about heart surgery as a career.
Miss Hardman, who is the course organiser, said students would not normally gain heart surgery experience until they had been qualified as a doctor for at least four years and had reached Senior Registrar level.
Miss Hardman said: “I am a new Registrar and I’ve known I have wanted to do this for a long time, however, we have been finding that fewer and fewer people want to do it.
“As a young Registrar, and especially as a female, I try to take part in events and talk to junior people about heart surgery.
“If students come here, hopefully they might think about coming here again in the future.”
Mr Walker and his team have two students at a time so the young people get a valuable insight into what it’s like to work as a heart surgeon. They sit in on operations, learn bypass surgery skills, spend time in A&E and observe Mr Walker and his team at work.
Mr Walker said: “This is the second year that we have run this course and it has proved extremely successful.
“It gives students an insight into what we do every day of the week. It’s not just about practising skills – it’s more about seeing if you might want to do this.
“The skills the students learn can also be used in other types of surgery.”
Daniel James, a fourth year from the Lancaster Medical School, said: “It has been an amazing week. To get the chance to be a part of the team and learn so much in such as short period of time has been brilliant.’’
Fellow fourth year student at Lancaster, Mariam Gaddah, added: “I have really enjoyed seeing the operations and talking to patients. I have learned so much and it has been a great experience.’’
Mr Walker added: “I think it’s important to have students here as we have so much to offer. It’s good for their confidence.
“We are one of the busiest units in the country. It’s a very dynamic unit and we embrace new technology.”