Message from the Convener
Instant gratification, adrenaline rush, and a very hands-on approach are what come to mind when thinking about life in the OR. What is often overlooked are the years of hard work, blood and sweat that go into reaching that point. Few are aware of the uphill battle that goes on behind the scenes, whether it is studies, relationships, or mental well-being, trainee surgeons have to put in their all to eventually get the satisfaction of saving lives independently and teach others to do the same.
Surgery Interest Group provides a forum for interested students to come together and discuss ideas related to surgery and offers mentorship by our esteemed faculty and alumni. Last year, we organized ourselves into five subgroups: research, alumni outreach, education and skills development, event administration and media and publications. This increased our efficacy significantly. Despite being hit by an unprecedented global pandemic, we were able to organize sixteen talks and panel discussions, five workshops and provided seventy-four research and related positions.
This year, even though most activities are expected to be virtual, we plan to hold sessions related to each surgical specialty each month and start a national collaboration for research in alliance with our 150 ambassadors registered from over seventy medical colleges across Pakistan along with many other exciting opportunities.
We hope to take the society one step forward despite the high standards achieved last year and showcase what a brilliant field surgery is and why all the efforts are worth it if that is your calling!
Welcome to a new decade!
Surgery once considered to be a luxury is now regarded as a necessity with increasing demand every day. As of today, there is a need of 2.2 Million more surgeons and anesthetists in order to fulfill global demand. A surgeon in today’s world, therefore, works towards a mission of making timely, affordable, and quality surgical care possible. It is, therefore, imperative that young aspiring surgeons are exposed to the right opportunities at the right time. Surgery Interest Group (SIG) serves this very purpose by utilizing the resources available to the students and leveraging them to structure workshops, talks, surgical camps, and a host of other activities while serving as a platform connecting Faculty, Residents, Alumni, and students.
Since its inception 3 years ago the group has established itself within AKU and has enabled numerous aspiring surgeons studying at AKU to pursue their dream career. With the introduction of a new structure, the group is ready to take on new challenges. The group now has five departments including Education & Skills Development, Alumni Outreach, Research, Admin & Finance, and Media & Publications, working in close coordination to bring about a greater volume of outcome in the shape of added opportunities for students without compromising on the quality. Surgery is a small community and it is imperative that we grow in Synergy instead of Silos. This year we have taken the initiative of joining hands with students and surgery-related groups working in other medical colleges across the country and internationally in an effort to share opportunities for the mutual benefit of all aspiring surgeons. Together we will make the impossible possible, In Sha Allah!
Dr. Aisha Tariq
In my hostel room, in the middle of my soft board are some of my most prized and sentimental possessions: the service line badge from general surgery, organizer badges from the annual surgical conferences, and a few scattered sutures stuck to the foam - mementos from one of the best parts of my medical school. I joined SIG back in 2016, and over the past three years, I had the incredible opportunity to work with incredible people and see SIG grow. Everyone including my wonderful team of driven and enthusiastic medical students, to our patron Dr. Sadaf Khan, co-patron Dr. Amir Shariff, Chair of the Department of Surgery Dr. Ather Enamand mentors Dr. Muneer Amanullah and Dr. Aneela Darbar. Not to mention the irreplaceable Dr. Gulzar Lakhani and Mr. Murad Bana, as well as Mr. Shariff Charania - all of whom encouraged each and every one of us to help SIG accomplish new heights in line with its vision of providing surgically inclined students with a platform to explore and advance their interests. This past year SIG had monumental firsts. We hosted our own student-run session as part of the 4th Annual Surgical Conference: Global Surgery - Bridging the Gap. We collaborated with international student groups such as Global Surgery Student Alliance and InciSioN to successfully organize a session solely ‘by the students, and for the students’ on academic global surgery, regarded as a highly successful session. Following the conference, we organized the first surgical camp and educational visit with Dr. Philomena Drago, AKU PGME alumna, at Love and Trust Hospital, Chachro - a memorable and eye-opening experience for everyone. As per tradition, we hosted our annual Suturing and Knot Tying Workshop with AKU surgical faculty and held a multitude of interactive talks and sessions with AKU alumni and visiting surgeons to educate students about what it means to be a surgeon and the path to pursuing it. This year we recreated the panel discussion ‘Women in Surgery’ to address the obstacles women face in the field of surgery, where everyone in attendance learned to persevere in the face of adversity. Looking back, the year 2018-2019 was filled with many successes and learning opportunities. SIG has established itself well as a strong foothold of mentorship and guidance for students in pursuit of becoming surgeons. There has been an increase in the involvement of students clinically, as well as in research after SIG’s efforts. I can safely say SIG has worked hard in fostering an environment of encouragement, support, and mentorship for the student body. As the year comes to an end, I want to wish the best of luck to the new team for future SIG endeavors. I have faith in the students AKU shapes in becoming fearless and thoughtful leaders, diligent team workers, and good people. May the coming year be filled with more opportunities for success and prosperity!
Dr. Syed Arish Haider
The Surgery Interest Group at AKU has now been functioning for two years, and it is only with the combined effort of our dedicated core group that it has achieved so much in such a small amount of time. This year saw SIG being at the forefront of the 3rd Annual Surgical Conference held in February 2018. In a first of its kind of collaboration with the Department of Surgery, SIG bridged the gap between students and faculty outside the daily academic setting of medical school. Our involvement in several aspects of the conference led to widespread praise from several local and international faculty. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dr. Muneer Amanullah for guiding us every step of the way, and Mr. Shariff Charania of the Department of Surgery for going out of his way to help us with logistics. The overwhelming support from the student body this year has been encouraging. With registrations pouring in for our surgical skills workshop, and our principle of not leaving anyone out, we enthusiastically organized two separate events. With our very own star-studded faculty being instructors, our workshops became surgical skills masterclasses with students and faculty coming together for a shared passion for surgery. This year has seen a rise in student involvement in our surgical specialties in both a clinical and research capacity. More and more undergraduate students are becoming part of projects due to mentorship efforts SIG has spearheaded. From advising our juniors on how to go about looking for research or field-specific clinical exposure, to connecting faculty with interested students, SIG members have played their part. As the outgoing convener for what I can safely say is the most active and hard-working student society at AKU, I wish my juniors all the best for all future endeavors. From our foray into the world of Global Surgery in the upcoming surgical conference to our promise of furthering the presence of SIG on both a national and international level, I am sure we have a lot to look forward to. Best of luck!
How it all started!!
Dr. Ayesha Quddusi
Founding Convener 2016-17
The idea to start the Surgery Interest Group came to me around the beginning of 2016. I had already made up my mind to pursue a career in surgery. As such, I kept myself updated with things happening in the surgical world in terms of research and innovation, both locally and globally. And so, I came across student bodies called surgery interest groups based in different universities abroad. They appeared to be enthusiastic groups helping medical students in different ways to make a career in surgery. These seemed very interesting and helpful. So I looked for a surgery interest group at our medical college and found out there was none. I knew of several of my class fellows and juniors who wanted to become surgeons but did not have any place to discuss their concerns and ideas about following this path, or what it really meant to go into this field.
We could also arrange workshops on surgical skills for those students, which would be a fun activity in our tedious medical school routine that often becomes mundane. Now that there wasn’t a pre-existing surgery interest group, I decided to start one. The first person from the faculty I approached was Dr. Sadaf Khan. She was and still continues to be, of great help to us medical students and our Surgery Interest Group. Without a faculty supervisor, starting an interest group would not be wise. What else wouldn’t be wise is to think you can do everything on your own. You will need others for help. You will need a team.
Luckily, I found my teammate in my friend and colleague, Marvi. Not only is she a surgery enthusiast, but she also has experience in organizing events as she has been part of other student groups’ core such as SRF. How it all started…by Ayesha Quddusi, Class of 2017. Another person to approach me then was Karim, who was quite eager to be part of any core body that we may form in the future. Together we held the first event, which was an interactive session with Dr. Rizwan Azami. At this time, we did not have a budget, and we did not have a formal structure or general members, but we wanted medical students to know that there is such a group where they can meet like-minded students both juniors and seniors, and not feel overwhelmed by their career interests. The second event we held was a knot tying workshop supervised by Dr. Sadaf Khan and instructors from the surgery department, which turned out to be quite fun and educational as everyone was able to learn at least two types of surgical knots. This was held almost near the end of our 4th year in med school.
I realized that the next year would be our final year, and once we graduate, unless we don’t have proper by-laws and a formal structure for the core there will be no one to carry on SIG. Hence, after consulting Dr. Sadaf, Marvi, and I began working on the by-laws and after her approval, they were sent for final approval to the Chair of Surgery, Dr. Ather Enam. After tremendous efforts, and a thorough meeting with Dr. Ather himself, by the end of 2016 we were able to get the by-laws approved, structure the core group, and were granted an annual budget as well. SIG is affiliated with the Department of Surgery at AKU, and over the past year has accomplished so much. I feel honored to have been able to contribute something to my Alma Mater that hopefully will continue to be of benefit to our medical students.