Category: Journal Club

The history of surgical teaching at the University of Sydney

Anderson Stewart Building c1900 courtesy of University of Sydney Archive

The first medical students entered the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney in 1883.  At this time, Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart (1856–1920), a 26-year-old recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh, was appointed Professor of Anatomy and Physiology and charged with organising the surgical teaching program.  As it is today, surgery was a rapidly changing speciality. In particular new techniques such as anaesthesia and antisepsis were in the process of transforming clinical practice. Professor Stewart recalled of his time in Edinburgh:

“I recognised the value of Lister’s teaching, and did as much as I could with him… I had an opportunity of working under the old surgery, and yet observing the new… I remember Mr Spence in an old grey operation coat, which he had used for years, and which was stiff with coagulated blood, and other discharges, so that if you placed it on the floor it stood erect by itself…” (Epps, 1922; Brown, 2016)

Brown and Storey (2016) give a fascinating account of the changes in surgical teaching that have taken place at the university since the introduction of anaesthesia and antisepsis.

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Reshaping the critical role of surgeons in oncology research

In a recent paper published in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, an international team of prominent surgeons examined the barriers to conducting research faced by contemporary trainees and practising surgeons.

“Over the past decade … concerns have been raised about a global decline in the number of surgeons performing basic science research alongside clinical activity – so-called surgeon-scientists.  …  we offer some thoughts on potential strategies and future directions for surgical engagement in oncology research to increase the number of research-active surgeons.” (1)

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