Everything you need to know about being a STARSurg Regional Lead

Hey, our names are Omar and Sanchita, some of the new STARSurg steering committee this year. We both joined after being RECON regional leads, and so are well placed to give some insight into the role!

About us

Omar (Final Year at University of Dundee): I first joined STARSurg as a collaborator for the OAKS-2 project three (long) years ago. I gained an invaluable insight into surgical academia and assimilated the ethos of collaborative research into my practice as a medical student. I went on to become a regional lead for RECON, contributing to one of the most significant collaborative studies ever conducted by a student-led research collaboration, with a whopping 12,000 enlisted patients!

Sanchita (4th Year at University of Cardiff): I got involved with STARSurg as a data collector in IMAGINE, and became a regional lead last year for RECON. I have always been interested in research and have been involved with a myriad of research projects, from lab-based to larger data-based clinical studies. However, the collaborative model of STARSurg is very unique as it is very student-led and has supported me to push my own boundaries, develop more skills – not only skills in research methodology but also develop organisational and team-building skills. 

How do you feel being part of STARSurg?

The opportunity to be a part of this wonderful collaborative family – run by students for studentshas been energising (to say the least). Every single role within the STARSurg community, collaborator to committee member, is an integral part of the success of STARSurg and the delivery of high-quality research projects with the aim of improving patient lives.

What was gained from being a regional lead?

Regional leads are crucial for delivering STARSurg studies locally and ensuring the smooth operating of the collaborative throughout the country. Securing this role opens up a myriad of opportunities and develops the fundamental set of skills necessary for a future career in surgery and academia. During our time as regional leads, we were involved in recruiting collaborators, supporting audit registration, and handling the day-to-day running of STARSurg

We significantly enhanced our confidence and leadership skills through coordinating a national study at our own individual trusts, built upon our research skills and networked with enthusiastic students and surgeons both locally and nationally. We’ve also found out this now counts for Core Surgery Training (CST) applications as it’s a regional leadership position for a year!

What was the most rewarding aspect of this role?

We both agree that we found this role very rewarding as we were able to meet like-minded students; revelling in the opportunity to guide them through their own academia pathways. This role acts as an avenue to get involved with STARSurg at a national level, as well as opening doors to greater national opportunity through the extended collaborative network. It is an amazing feeling when each of us as medical students can successfully take ownership to deliver and implement research projects of this scale! 

What are the extra benefits of being regional lead?

As a regional lead, you would also be in first priority to reap the benefits of several opportunities such as the annual STARSurg project launch, GRANULE courses, and Hack days. This would further improve your academic research skills, including writing papers and even your communication skills in recruiting patients into randomized trials. On top of all that, you have the chance to meet keen and supportive academics and STARSurg committee members that have your best interest at heart.

What was the most challenging aspect of this role?

The time commitment to the role differed from day to day; however, an average of 1-2 hours of dedication a day would be required once the project was running. As the regional lead, we had to troubleshoot any problems that arose on the ground in the different centres – whether it may be issues with the audit registration, problems with data collection or mitigating mini-team conflicts. However, the steering committee was incredibly supportive of all regional leads to address these challenges, and we even supported each other if we had faced similar issues! 

What advice would you give to incoming regional leads?

From our experience, we recommend getting audit registration process started much in advance of the project start date, as there can be many challenges in getting that off the ground initially. Audit departments each have their local requirements and need to be addressed specifically. Furthermore, we recommend having a meeting (albeit fairly informal) to go over the data collection process with all the data collectors prior to start date, in order to discuss any issues anyone may have about the study design, data collection process, getting access to the data, etc.

Would you recommend applying for regional lead?

STARSurg is a collaborative network that nurtures excellence in surgical research through support, mentorship, and guidance. We would strongly recommend all keen medical students, no matter what stage you are in, to apply for a regional lead position and join the STARSurg family. We’re looking forward to working with you all over the next year!

New STARSurg Committee and STARSurg Regional Lead applications

Still revelling in the success of the data collection stage of the RECON project, the months of June and July brought new excitement to the STARSurg steering committee as we sought to recruit our newest members. We invited applications for the STARSurg steering committee across the network, receiving over 56 high-quality applications.

All submissions were triple marked by committee members and senior advisors. As always, this was a difficult process in exploring shortlisted candidates’ views for innovation and ideas for future STARSurg prospects in informal discussions via subsequent telephone interviews.

As we move into the new academic year, STARSurg are delighted to be able to welcome 5 new student committee members to the team. We look forward to continue to build on the success STARSurg with their support, enthusiasm, and novel perspectives.

  • Isobel Trout – 4th Year at Birmingham University(RECON collaborator)
  • Omar Kouli – 4th Year at Dundee University (current Dundee Regional Lead)
  • William Cambridge – 3rd Year at Edinburgh University (RECON collaborator)
  • Samuel Brown – 3rd Year at Leicester University (IMAGINE collaborator & RECON Hospital Lead)
  • Sanchita Bhatia – 4th Year at Cardiff University (current Cardiff Regional Lead)

Remaining true to one of the core STARSurg ethos established at its inception, the group remains a predominantly student-led initiative, with 69% (n=11) of the steering committee at present being students. Since the collaborative was founded in 2014, the steering committee has included 38 committee members over the past 5 years, encompassing 21 medical schools across the UK and Ireland.

As our new members join the team, STARSurg continues forwards as a truly national group with our steering committee now representing 12 medical schools! (Birmingham, BSMS, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, KCL, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton).


We would like to thank all the candidates who submitted applications this year. We are grateful for the time and effort you have taken to invest in the STARSurg vision. 

When considering the steering committee recruited over the years, we are always keen to provide opportunities to progress within STARSurg, irrespective of stage.While the majority of the current committee have been recruited following experience as a regional lead (median involvement of 13 months, range: 5 – 32 months), 6 members were recruited directly from being a collaborator (median involvement of 6 months, range: 3 – 18 months). 

Therefore, we would encourage anyone who was not successful this year (or who may be interested in becoming more involved with STARSurg in the future) to consider applying for the STARSurg Regional Lead positions at their medical school (DEADLINE 14th Aug at 23:59). In addition, there will be future opportunities to remain active in STARSurg as a hospital lead or collaborator in our next project in early 2020.

Steering Committee Applications Now OPEN

Do you want to take a leading role in steering the UK’s most successful student collaborative?

Applications are now open for medical students from the UK to join the STARSurg (Student Audit and Research Society in Surgery) steering committee. Only applicants not in their final year at the time of application will be considered. A role on the STARSurg Steering Committee provides a great opportunity to take on a more senior role in leading the largest student research network in the UK, which has proved invaluable in future job applications, in particular the academic foundation programme.

This role involves the day-to-day running of STARSurg, yearly meetings, assisting in running events, working with sponsors, managing the regional leads and assisting with paper and protocol writing. You will be supported by other students and seniors within the STARSurg network where appropriate.

Role specification:


  • A willingness to work in a team
  • A passion for surgery and research
  • Good leadership skills
  • Effective time management
  • Evidence of organisational skills (eg. Committee roles at Medical School/ other work/ past experiences)
  • Good communication skills, organised
  • A desire to get involved in writing protocols, papers


  • Previous collaborator for STARSurg
  • Previous local/regional lead for STARSurg
  • Participation in event days (Hack Day, GRANULE)
  • Any other research background/ projects/ awareness

To apply, please fill in the application form below which will contain three short questions to test your compatibility with this role, answers will be blind triple marked and those shortlisted will have a telephone interview. Most committee members remain on the committee for a range of 1-2 years.

**DEADLINE HAS PASSED, we have now decided on our team for the ongoing year but if you didn’t get a chance to apply next year, please sign up to our mailing list for future opportunities **

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: starsurguk@gmail.com

NRCM 2018 Blogpost

National Research Collaborative Meeting (NRCM) 2018

This December the National Research Collaborative Meeting (NRCM) 2018, celebrated 10 years of collaborative research. This historic conference was hosted by the NORTHWEST research collaborative and STARSurg at Manchester’s Chetham school of music and library.

This pan-specialty conference welcomed over 250 delegates from around the United Kingdom, including consultants, surgical trainees at all levels of training and medical students. This conference provided attendees with the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and leaders in research and gain exposure to the variety of collaboratives represented at this event.

The day consisted of keynote lectures and numerous breakout sessions, all of which catered well to the varying tastes of the attendees. The beauty of this day was that it was easy to remain interested and engaged throughout the day, due to the variety of the talks. From patient led keynotes to focused talks on designing a successful research project, which addressed topics such as: tips for a successful grant application and asking the right research questions in your study. Presentation of trials and national study results, including IMAGINE, highlighted the great leaps being made by research collaboratives, which was truly inspiring to witness.

STARSurg’s next national audit project REspiratory Complications after abdomiNal surgery (RECON) was also officially introduced at the NRCM 2018. (Please visit the RECON page in our project hub for more information on how to get involved with this study).  STARSurg also delivered useful workshops such as ‘Get me an AFP’, a mini ‘GRANULE course’, which were particularly engaging for the medical student attendees of the conference.

NRCM 2018 concluded with an exhilarating debate with Prof Dion Morton arguing that “this house believes that all collaborative research should be published under corporate authorship” and Prof Torkington arguing against.

This conference highlighted to me how much the collaborative research model has revolutionised the surgical research landscape over the last 10 years. What resonated with me the most from this conference is the idea that collaboratives foster a grass roots approach in their operation. Where they empower keen researchers from all levels, even medical students and equip them with the knowledge and skills to help deliver high quality, impactful studies. All with the end goal of improving patient care and the patient experience.

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

STARSurg Journal Club

A twitter-based surgical journal club targeted at undergraduate medical students and junior doctors in the UK. This ‘melting-pot’ of academic activity seeks to foster a new generation of motivated, skilled surgeon-scientists for the NHS.

Every month, discuss a topical surgical article on twitter in STARSurg Journal Club.

The article will be discussed for around an hour, with the objective of writing a letter to the editor on behalf of the STARSurg journal club.

Anyone can get involved, just keep an eye on the STARSurg twitter feed for the date, time and article to be discussed and tune in!