Honors Track in surgery, operating theatre doors are now open

Choosing a specialization can be the result of love at first sight or of an interest built up over time. Medical students at Hunimed have the opportunity to take part in the Honors Track: an intensive programme that includes lectures and seminars but also some hands-on experience in the operating theatre, the Simulation Lab and the Anatomy Lab. The annual call for applications is open to fourth-year medical students on track with their exams. In addition, the programme confers 10 additional CFTs that may be useful for admission to Masters’s courses in Italy and abroad.

A real experience of the operating theatre

The Honours Track involves lots of hands-on activity. “Unlike all other medicine and surgery courses, here we focus heavily on teaching practical skills in the operating theatre” explains Professor Efrem Civilini    Associate of Cardiovascular Surgery at Humanitas University. “It seems illogical, but usually practical experience starts during post-graduate specialisation when it is perhaps too late. The ‘hidden’ purpose of the track is to somehow attract more students towards our profession. The surgeon carreer is fascinating, despite the difficulties and sacrifices required. He adds – We want to provide students, step by step, with the possibility of experiencing fundamentals of surgery that we often had to learn on our own or through fortuitous encounters with enlightened masters”.

Only first-hand experience can allow to really understand the dynamics of an operating theatre: its peculiarities, how to work in a team and what soft skills are needed to approach a patient during his or her surgical journey.

“The Track in Surgery was created as a response to a clear need of Humanitas University students – informs Professor Luca Viganò    Associate Professor of General Surgery at Humanitas University – namely a greater exposure to the surgical world, which is hardly “transmissible” by theoretical lessons alone. The students interested in surgery want to ‘breathe the air’ of the operating theatre and challenge themselves to see if they have the right attitude and manual dexterity for the job. The simulation allows to tackle the student’s lack of surgical practice, from sutures to laparoscopic and robotic surgery. And he continues – the HT’s theoretical lectures offer the opportunity to discuss topics which are often little known to surgeons but really important for proper training, such as operating room requirements and risks, as well as quality criteria in surgery.

High value for students

To support the students, the track coordinators work together with mentors and resident doctors to create a close group. The small number of participants creates a sense of sharing that really brings the students into the surgical reality of the hospital. “The Honors Track is a challenging course since it’s several weeks longer than normal lectures or seminars and, very importantly, it allows to learn through practical activity,” says Soumya Kotha, a 6th-year medical student. There are several sessions in the operating theatre and in the Simulation Centre, and we often discuss clinical cases with the team. We are few students and this allows us to exchange views with the lecturers and to be close to the patients”.

The value of this track is the opportunity for students to experience surgery first-hand and challenge themselves. “The Honours Track in surgery,” explains Mariachiara Tamburrini, a 6th-year medical student, “quickly confirmed my strong interest for surgery. The sessions in the operating theatre and in the Simulation Centre were a very important and diverse training experience; in fact, I was able to experience different areas: cardiac surgery, urology, ENT, neurosurgery, general, vascular and thoracic surgery. This is a unique opportunity to get a well-rounded perspective on surgery.

Next year, new tracks will be opened in new medical areas: oncology, orthopaedics, allergy and clinical immunology, and emergency-urgency.

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Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.