Ibrahim Raza, Awais Raza, Ahmed Banisadar and Syed Ahmed Raza share their GlobalSurg experience from King Edward Medical University, Lahore, Pakistan
I had always considered a long-distance multi-national research setup to be very challenging, so I had little optimism when my consultant surgeon Dr.Ahmad Uzair Qureshi asked me if I’d like to be part of an international collaboration by the name GlobalSurg. Nonetheless, I was excited about this idea for a pan-regional cooperation and so far it has been a very healthy and positive experience!
The single most crucial question, in my opinion, for any international team that is willing to participate in any project on a multi-national scale is, “Is this do-able so that I can follow-through the whole process in my setup?” For me, the descriptive videos and explanations at the website definitely took care of that hesitation. We registered at the website and went through the protocol and the guidelines. The attention to detail and flexibility of options to make the whole process pragmatic really made us feel comfortable with the whole process.
As for the experience itself, there were some things that we had to adapt so as to mould the procedure to our setup:
Firstly, RedCap is an online service and there is no unified WiFi facility inside the hospital complex, so we figured to print the forms and manually enter the forms later. Dr Thomas Drake was extremely cooperative and gave us access to the mobile application where we could enter data offline which would then automatically sync later.
Secondly, being one of largest tertiary care hospitals in Asia meant we had to collect data from nine wards lists and their emergencies several times a day, since discharge time can be short for minimal surgeries. I had a 12 hour shift at the maternity ward during the collection period, so we really had to push the limits on this one; It was hectic but the supportive response of the GlobalSurg team kept the morale high.
Thirdly, and most importantly, one of the aspects of this experience that I consider one of the most valuable assets I gained (and the one, I was not expecting) was the extensive counselling of the patients about the protocol. Being in a developing country, at a tertiary care hospital with catchment area stretching as wide as many adjoining cities meant that many of the patients are referrals from the rural health facilities and for a follow up you need not only to explain the protocol of the research, but the idea of research and audits itself. Interestingly, I, as a medical student, found this counselling part particularly helpful in improving my patient interaction; how to pick up subtle body language signs, better understand different social clues that help in conveying your message efficiently to the patient, how to identify and address patient concerns that are expressed between the lines. At every step of the protocol, there was a new experience and I enjoyed it. Another thing I learned from this experience is the importance of communication between the central faculty and the regional team. I believe that if we have an open, bilateral and continuous communication among ourselves, it not only keeps everyone updated but also , interestingly, removes the idea of distance or geography as a barrier and creates an environment of mutual trust and understanding which can inculcate a solid sense of participation that in itself acts as a potent force of motivation.
Sticking to my view, during the collection and follow up phases, I developed the habit of sending a weekly update to the GlobalSurg team. This not only helped create a conducive working environment but also kept the team motivated so much so that not only did we ended up with 92 patients enrolled in two weeks but also, owing to the amazing cooperation and support from the GS team I was able to form 2 more teams and as of now we stand upwards of 330 entries!
In the end, this all has been an amazing experience, and I cannot appreciate enough the classic Kemcolian vigour and determination showed by my team. We at Team KEMU do believe that the collaboration formed as a result of this project is a solid foundation for future endeavors!
“Collaborators from all over the world have come under the umbrella of GlobalSurg 2 to contribute and coordinate on a topic crucial to the field of surgery and the health care in general. This meticulously gathered data from diverse regions of the world will ensure the authenticity and validity of the results. I believe it’s a great initiative. It has been exciting to be a part of this great project. I wish well to all the collaborators and congratulate GS2 team for carrying this out wonderfully.”
“The experience of visiting patients in a tertiary care health centre like mayo hospital and going through their files has been very informative and wonderful to me as a Medical Student. These 2 weeks at GlobalSurg spent with sheer hard work and vigilance proved to be an excellent hands-on experience of patient care and responsibility as well as clinical knowledge about various surgical procedures being carried out in our hospital. Moreover, it was a much needed project and I thank Global Surge 2 for making me a part of it and I hope it opens up room for improvement with its results.”