Investing in the future: a call for strategies to empower and expand representation of women in neurosurgery worldwide

As progress is gradually being made toward increased representation and retention of women in neurosurgery, the neurosurgical community should elevate effective efforts that may be driving positive change. Here, the authors describe explicit efforts by the neurosurgery community to empower and expand representation of women in neurosurgery, among which they identified four themes: 1) formal mentorship channels; 2) scholarships and awards; 3) training and exposure opportunities; and 4) infrastructural approaches. Ultimately, a data-driven approach is needed to improve representation and empowerment of women in neurosurgery and to best direct the neurosurgical community’s efforts across the globe.

ABBREVIATIONS AANS = American Association of Neurological Surgeons; CNS = Congress of Neurological Surgeons; COSECSA = College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa; FIENS = Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery; LMIC = low- and middle-income country; WINS = Women in Neurosurgery; WiSA = Women in Surgery Africa.

Peer-led surgery education: A model for a surgery interest group

We present a systematic, sustainable, student-led model for a Surgery Interest Group in a low and middle-income country setting to encourage other medical students to establish similar groups in their institutions. Our model was developed at the Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi, and is comprised of medical students, teaching associates, residents, faculty and alumni. The group focuses on connecting medical students with an interest in surgery with opportunities to help them match in surgery training programs. The opportunities include, but are not limited to, skill development, personal development, mentorship and research. Our model has shown growth and expansion over the last four years, and can be successfully replicated in medical colleges across similar settings.

The Impact of Delivering High-Quality Cataract Surgical Mentorship Through Distance Wet Laboratory Courses on Cataract Surgical Competency of Second and Final Year Residents.

Background: This study aimed to assess the acceptability and effectiveness of training second and final-year residents, at the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, a tertiary-level ophthalmic training center in Trujillo, Peru, in phacoemulsification cataract surgery through structured distance surgical mentorship wet lab courses.

Methods: Delivered three five-week distance surgical mentorship wet lab courses, administered through Cybersight, Orbis International’s telemedicine platform. Weekly lectures and demonstrations addressed specific steps in phacoemulsification surgery. Each lecture had two accompanying wet lab assignments, which residents completed and recorded in their institution’s wet lab and uploaded to Cybersight for grading. Competency was assessed through the anonymous grading of pre- and post-training surgical simulation videos, masked as to which videos were recorded before and after training, using a standardized competency rubric adapted from the International Council of Ophthalmology’s Ophthalmology Surgical Competency Assessment Rubric (ICO-OSCAR). Day one best-corrected post-operative visual acuity (BVCA) was assessed in the operative eye on the initial consecutive 4-6 surgeries conducted by the residents. An anonymous satisfaction survey was administered to trainees’ post-course.

Results: In total, 21 second and final-year residents participated in the courses, submitting a total of 210 surgical videos. Trainees’ average competency score (scale of 0-32) increased 6.95 (95%CI [4.28, 9.62], SD=5.01, p<0.0001, two sample t-test) from 19.3 (pre-training, 95%CI [17.2, 21.5], SD=4.04) to 26.3 (post-training, 95%CI [24.2, 28.3], SD=3.93). Among 100 post-training resident surgeries, visual acuity for 92 (92%) was ≥20/60, meeting the World Health Organization’s criterion for good cataract surgical quality.

Conclusions: Structured distance wet lab courses in phacoemulsification resulted in significantly improved cataract surgical skills. This model could be applicable to locations where there are obstacles to traditional in-person wet lab training and can also be effectively deployed to respond to a disruptive event in medical education, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic