Day Zero AFP: STARSurg/SARS Pre-conference day

Over 30 delegates joined us on the 9th January 2018 at the Queens Medical Centre at the University of Nottingham for our first joint event with the Society of Academic and Research Surgery (SARS): Day Zero AFP. We were fortunate enough to be joined by the distinguished faculty of SARS, who delivered “speed dating sessions” for students, in areas such as accessing research grants all the way through to AFP interviews.

The day began with a general overview of the AFP, with a talk from ASiT on getting the most from surgical training. Career development was then focussed on which was individually delivered by SARS faculty over lunch, giving opportunity for informal networking as well as general advice from SARS for students. Heading into the afternoon, a bitesize GRANULE (GeneRAtiNg StUdent Recruiters for Surgical TriaLs) course was then delivered by STARSurg. A session on “How Not To Publish” by BJS was delivered, specifically aimed at encouraging and assisting medical students to publish and how to avoid the common mistakes that lead to rejection.

Medical students were given the opportunity to brainstorm in groups and become a collaborating member in a potential future consensus publication surrounding a strong AFP application. We hope that the nature of this potential publication demonstrates to medical students that it is not impossible to contribute and publish research, even at the early stage of medical school.

We are grateful to have been given this opportunity by SARS, we would also like to say thank you to our platinum partner BJS for allowing us to run these events for medical students, and look forward to more like this. Thank you to ASiT and Wesleyan for supporting us on the day.

NRCM 2017

The National Research Collaborative Meeting 2017 was host to over 250 delegates from across Europe (and beyond)! With representation from 25 nationwide collaboratives, the NRCM 2017 was the biggest of its kind so far.

It was truly a great experience to witness surgical trainees, research leaders, and medical students from around the UK showcasing collaborative research from across all specialties and training levels. Further to this, the opportunity to meet various like-minded individuals from across the world who share a passion for research was truly invaluable.

The fact that numerous talks were available for a variety of audiences was remarkable. It catered for the wide range of interests held by those in attendance. The parallel sessions that featured throughout the day meant that medical students and trainees were able to engage in more directed and focused talks that were specifically designed to discuss and highlight key areas of interest.

The talks held in the main hall were conducted by a range of academics from various backgrounds, with aim of coming together in order to share both successes and opportunities for future growth within the field of surgery. As part of this, I was able to witness the ambition and determination to drive collaborative research to the very forefront of the surgical field.
All in all, the NRCM 2017 presented as an opportunity to remove oneself from the familiarity of day to day work, study or research and come together with individuals from across the UK and Europe to learn, share and celebrate achievements towards better patient care.

This blog post was written by Ibrahim Yasin, a 4th year medical student and STARSurg committee member from the University of Southampton Medical School.

Develop Your Research Skills

A solid grounding in key research concepts is essential for medical students building an academic career. STARSurg recommends the following videos and slides for learning the core concepts:

Introduction to Medical Statistics

– A short video that outlines the role of statistics (its uses and limitations), review of variable types, descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.

Introduction to Managing a Research Project

– A short video providing one way (of many) to structure a research project, from conceiving, planning, doing and concluding. A great summary before starting on your own research or audit project.

Effective Applications and Interview Techniques

 – A short guide to understand the types of  potential questions that can be asked in an interview for an academic application, hints and tips on how to approach them, how to present your evidence for these questions and how to prepare prior to interview.

Effective Applications & Interview Techniques

To find out more and get all you need to apply to a competitive academic foundation programme join us for our Day Zero AFP Course

STARSurg partners with the British Journal of Surgery

STARSurg is delighted to announce the British Journal of Surgery as a platinum partner. The BJS has published our two first national projects DISCOVER and STARSurg 1 and this agreement further strengthens our relationship. The BJS is rated one of the top surgical journals in the world.

BJS is published on behalf of the BJS Society Ltd by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The Journal’s influence and standing has grown over the years through the ownership of its registered charity, the BJS Society. The Society’s objectives are to advance and improve education in surgery and to diffuse knowledge on new and improved methods of teaching and practising surgery in all its branches. It does this primarily through the promotion of the Journal but it has also developed strategic European partnerships. The BJS Council of Management is drawn mainly from these partner surgical associations whose relationship has increased the Journal profile and broadened its attraction globally. The Council is proud of the quality of the journal, the content of which is further enhanced by a hands-on approach by its editorial team in improving submitted manuscripts and the journal content.

BJS is the premier peer-reviewed surgical journal in Europe and one of the top surgical periodicals in the world, with an impact factor of 5.899. Its international readership is reflected in the prestigious international Editorial Board, supported by a panel of over 1200 reviewers worldwide.

BJS features the very best in clinical and laboratory-based research on all aspects of general surgery and related topics. BJS has a tradition of publishing high-quality papers in breast, upper GI, lower GI, vascular, endocrine and surgical sciences.

Content includes Leading Articles, Reviews, Original Research Articles, Systematic Reviews, Meta-analyses and Randomized Clinical Trials.

An online subscription to BJS gives you instant access to content directly from your desktop or mobile device:

Get instant access to important general surgery research from around the globe
Read issues back to 1998
Download the BJS app for access to content on the move
Access the top cited and most popular papers
Get the latest articles ahead of the print edition with Early View
View articles in HTML, PDF or the interactive Anywhere Article
Search by keywords, author, and much more
Get the latest articles delivered direct to your desktop or mobile device with Content Alerting
Copyright STARSurg ⓒ 2017

ESCP 2017

STARSurg were lucky enough to be invited along with our partner collaborative Eurosurg to the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) Annual Conference in Berlin last week. The ESCP conference is one of the largest conferences in surgery worldwide.

Before the conference, STARSurg was invited to deliver a half day version of it’s GRANULE course, for training students to recruit patients to randomised trials. This the first time it has been delivered internationally, with participants from 7 countries, including New Zealand!

Sign up to our mailing list or follow us on social media for the latest details of our GRANULE courses in the coming year.

The three day course featured experts from around the world presenting some of the recent landmark studies conducted in colorectal surgery. Eurosurg and STARSurg were delighted to launch our upcoming IMAGINE study and our previous work alongside these eminent speakers.

Eurosurg were given the opportunity to discuss their previous Eurosurg 1 study as well as two sessions to launch the IMAGINE project: a presentation and a dedicated parrallel session. At the parallel sessions delegates from new partner countries including Austrailia. New Zealand and more were introduced to the IMAGINE project and advised on launching a collaborative for the first time in their countries.

STARSurg also had 5 posters accepted to the conference, which may be viewed below:

















STARSurg’s Educational Impact on Students: A National Study

Education Paper Infographic

STARSurg published the above paper in 2015, see the full text free here:

This study was conducted by surveying the collaborators of our original STARSurgUK study in 2013. The collaborators reported a number of benefits to their participation in STARSurg including: increased confidence in clinical data collection, increased confidence in presenting findings, increased appreciation of research, audit and the quality improvement cycle.

These are all skills and values essential to the GMC’s outcomes for medical graduates in Tomorow’s Doctors which includes ‘the doctor as a scholar and scientist.’ Many medical students struggle to find the opportunity to engage in high quality research and STARSurg fills this gap.

Since the initial 2013 study, STARSurg has conducted 3 larger national cohort studies with many more thousands of medical students participating.

STARSurg will be running it’s first pan-European collaborative with partners Eurosurg, this year, see here: This will offer research opportunities to many more students across Europe and further increase STARSurg’s educational impact.


STARSurg Featured by the Journal of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland

We’re delighted to announce that a feature on STARSurg has been published in the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI). The issue may be viewed here:

ASGBI generously offered us the opportunity to deliver a keynote presentation of the OAKS project at their national conference this year in Glasgow, details available here:

ASGBI is one of the largest surgical organisations in the UK and the only organisation covering all branches of general surgery. Their annual international congress is one of the largest international surgical conferences in the UK and will next year be taking place in Liverpool.


Introducing our New Steering Committee- Ibrahim

Earlier this month we announced 5 new student committee members following a very competitive application process.

Ibrahim Yasin is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Southampton. He talks through his route through STARSurg:

My progression through STARSurg initially began when I volunteered as a collaborator for OAKS-1. This involved collecting data from computer systems for an hour or two most evenings (This was flexible as my mini team would split the work load).

Shortly after completing OAKS-1. STARSurg e-mailed with regards to regional lead positions being available. The application process was quick and easy. It involved completing an online form with personal details and some questions. At this particular time, I had little experience of audit and research but was able to demonstrate examples of transferable skills that would be most beneficial. Once I had submitted, it wasn’t long before I had heard back with the news that I was accepted for the role.

STARSurg had also e-mailed about available steering committee positions. I felt however that becoming a regional lead first would provide me with the necessary experience and insight in order for me to apply to join the steering committee.  The application process was very much the same. You had to demonstrate active interest and involvement in STARSurg activities and write about what makes you suitable for the role. This was followed by a quick telephone interview which was informal and friendly.

I personally believe that STARSurg offers some of the best opportunities to get involved in audit and research. There is great advantage to being part of a collaborative, it means that you can be fully involved in the entire process whilst having the necessary guidance and support when needed!

When I became a regional lead for STARSurg, I held the responsibility of delivering the OAKS-1 follow-up study (OAKS-2) across different hospital sites in Wessex. This region contained 11 active hospitals, which is one of the highest numbers in the UK for this project. This meant that organisation and time management were key to serving the role to its full potential.

In general, I could summarise my duties as follows:

  • Recruiting collaborators via an application based system
  • Providing collaborators with detailed instructions on how to conduct the audit
  • Coordinating mini teams and placing them in contact with audit offices
  • Communicating between the steering committee and mini teams
  • Publicising other ongoing STARSurg events

(The steering committee were extremely helpful if I was facing any difficulties and I would be able to contact them over social messaging platforms for quick advice)

As a regional lead, you have the opportunity to write papers for publications and attend massively oversubscribed courses such as Hack day and GRANULE. You also have the chance to develop a network with other like-minded individuals across the UK which opens a whole new window of opportunities.

All in all, I am grateful for being part of a collaborative that places medical students at its heart and I would definitely recommend the position of regional lead to anyone. It is truly an amazing opportunity with great and rare experiences that allow you to develop a unique skill set and have a great time whilst doing so.




Introducing our New Steering Committee

Earlier this month we announced 5 new student committee members following a very competitive application process.

Emily Mills is a 3rd year medical student at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. She had the following message for any student interested in STARSurg:

Hi, my name is Emily. I was appointed as late local (regional) lead this year for Brighton, in order to assist with the OAKS2 project, a follow up audit from a previous project regarding outcomes after acute kidney injury. The application process was straight forward and had a quick turnaround. As a third year medical student, I had no prior experience in research/academics outside of the medical school curriculum. I’d been in the committee in my Surgical Society at medical school but didn’t have much opportunity to get involved in research. Despite this, with support from STARSurg I found it easy to register and gain approval for the audit. This involved contacting the audit department at my trust and obtaining approval for data storage and collection. I also used the e-learning modules provided to understand the importance of data protection within a research environment.  My role and tasks were clearly defined and I found the Steering Committee extremely approachable and helpful.  I appointed another student as a collaborator and approached a consultant general surgeon to be my supervisor, who was also extremely helpful and answered any concerns or queries I had.


I have now recently obtained a position on the Steering Committee, with one of my main roles being to support local leads in future projects. This means that several members of the Steering Committee have been in your role and experienced the same challenges, and so will understand and expect you to ask them for help. I faced very few challenges within my role, and when I did I simply asked for advice and resolved them.


I would strongly encourage any student interested in research or surgery to apply for a local lead position, as it is a unique opportunity to independently gather knowledge about how audits and research are initiated, carried out and finalised. This is all whilst feeling completely supported by others and never left without help.


There is no need to worry about time commitments, the role is perfectly manageable alongside your studies and other interests or hobbies if you are proactive and focused. We are looking for those that will be dedicated to the role and are looking to join an ever-expanding network that has links across Europe and the globe. Not only will this role give you an opportunity to contribute to the academic side of clinical practice so early on in your career but it will also enhance your CV and future applications (AFP especially!).

GRANULE Delegates and Faculty

Highlights from Second GRANULE Course

STARSurg ran it’s second GRANULE course on Monday in Birmingham, designed to train medical students to recruit patients to Randomized Control Trials. 

The one day course consisted of plenary sessions by leading researchers in trial recruitment and practical sessions with simulated patients to try and recruit them. Delegates also attained the Good Clinical Practice qualification which is necessary in the UK to recruit patients to clinical research.

Feedback from one of the delegates is below:

Firstly, I would like to say, prior to the course, how replies to emails were informative and speedy so thank you for this.

 Upon arrival on the Sunday night, I found the hotel clean and comfortable. I also enjoyed the meal at the Cosy Club, it was good to get to know the other delegates in an informal and relaxed setting prior to the course. I enjoyed the food (even if it was a little meat heavy!). Myself and a couple of others also commented on how convenient it was having the hotel, the restaurant and the RCS Ed in such close proximity to one another.

 The day of the course was very enjoyable.  I am a younger medical student and being alongside senior professors and junior doctors can often be intimidating, however, I felt welcomed and encouraged from the start. I was also worried that the course may be aimed above my level but I found it pitched perfectly and appropriate for all members of our group, regardless of whether they were a junior doctor or a first year medical student.

 The live demonstration was very helpful and allowed us to see how it should be done- definitely something that should be continued in the future. The most valuable part of the day was without doubt the afternoon interactive sessions- these really allowed us to learn and enhance our techniques and develop skills that will be very applicable in the future. It definitely was beneficial to keep rotating the actors/staff members as they had very different teaching points and styles and allowed us to pick up on different things- this also broke up the afternoon a bit which otherwise may have felt too samey.

 In summary I have had a great time on the course and in Birmingham and thank you very much for all your hard efforts. I look forward to future teaching events in the future.

We hope to be running more of these courses in the coming year, please sign up to our mailing list or follow us on social media to keep up to date with GRANULE and more.