Student Committee Member Buket Gündoğan reflects on her time as Local Lead and her new role on the Steering Committee earlier this year.

Reflections on Being a STARSurg Local Lead and Being a New Steering Committee Member

Being involved in STARSurg for over 2 years has proved to be an interesting time indeed. The collaborative has offered me a unique chance to develop multiple skills as well as expand my interest in research.

Being Local Lead involves recruiting and coordinating collaborators at each of the affiliated medical school hospitals and answering their questions. This role can get very busy, particularly around September – October time when we recruit collaborators for the new project of the year. If you thought you receive many emails already, then think again. Naturally, you do adapt to this and become efficient over the coming weeks. My advice to Leads would be to try to reply at the end (or beginning) of the day in one go – or a couple times in the day, rather than constantly checking it – for the sake of your sanity and studies.

Sometimes as Lead, I would be asked questions I had no idea to how to answer. The Steering Committee were always very helpful – special thank you to Chetan for answering all my calls despite having his finals looming. We now have the WhatsApp group for Leads which I think has proved to be a very useful Q&A platform.

Perhaps the most special part of being a Local Lead is the skills you develop. The learning curve is steep from writing audit applications for the first time to being proactive in gaining audit approval from departments. Not only can you have the opportunity to be involved in working in large teams but also produce meaningful audit and research whilst becoming more organised and efficient.

Local Lead to Steering Committee

It’s been a pleasure to be on the Steering Committee over the last 6 months. I applied for a committee position towards the end of the academic year last year and was fortunate enough to be offered a role on the team. I chose to apply because I was keen to continue my involvement in STARSurg and contribute as a committee member.

Currently I’ve been coordinating the London region for the OAKS Project, helping to develop the website as webmaster, contributing to organising the annual meeting and most recently leading Journal Club. The role has grown since I first started, which has been interesting for me.

Coordinating the London region has been similar to coordinating a medical school as Local Lead – it involves being proactive and efficient with emails and being organised, which being Local Lead has put me in good stead for. The committee have been very supportive in accommodating me as a new member. My advice to current Leads who wish to be involved as a committee member would be to be enthusiastic, keen and committed to the collaborative.

What have I gained from being involved in STARSurg? The skills developed and gained have been numerous but I think most valuable for me professionally has been that the collaborative has fostered my interest in research and provided a pathway into academic medicine at an early stage – I think this is a crucial pathway which medical students who are so inclined should have access to and I’m honoured to be a part of the first student collaborative developing this. Moreover, the development in research skills and aptitude at an early stage for medical students is key to ensuring that the future leaders of academic surgery are equipped with the skills and experience necessary to contribute to evidence-based and innovative research for our patients.

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