When I first heard of GlobalSurg3 (GS3), I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the collaboration, and recruited a colleague to embark on data collection. I was on a general medicine rotation at the time, making the local set up of GS3 a little more involved for me and my colleague.
However, after receiving the green light, we divided our four week data collection block in half, each taking two weeks. Coming in to hospital early before clinical commitments began, and staying late to update our records, meant our hospital lives for those four weeks revolved around achieving high quality, consistent and complete data collection.
Having been involved in research projects and clinical trials previously, going into GS3 I thought I’d got a good working understanding of how the project would run. Yet, given our team of only 2 medical students were simultaneously working around the busiest placement of our medical school careers to date, I was not expecting to be confronted with the larger amount of work which we went on to complete.
We found ourselves starting the day excited to see if any new patients were eligible for inclusion, scouring theatre lists, ward hand overs, and even checking medical wards to avoid missing outlying patients. There really was a buzz to the work we were doing, and on reflection I think this was our first real taste of clinical research, involving real patients; so much more tangible than the data points that we’ve previously experienced.
When the four weeks came to an end, the relief of a quieter week to follow was overshadowed by a huge sense of accomplishment. The same reasons that forced us to work so hard from set-up through to data collection (small team, conflicting clinical commitments, absence of a senior leader), allowed us full ownership of our achievements.
Now, around 3 months later and into the validation phase of GS3, we wait with the excited nervousness so familiar to many students before a results day. I look forward to not only reading the final study reports, but to the middle and long term impacts GS3’s findings might, and I’m sure will, have on the provision of global cancer surgery and most importantly on patient outcomes.
GS3 was the beginning of what I hope to be a long clinical career dotted with research activity. I hope our involvement may give future medical students the confidence that they too can engage in clinical research, despite its falsely assumed unreachable status. Research isn’t just for the professors of today, it’s for the clinicians and patients of tomorrow. Take every opportunity you can, push your limits and let your enthusiasm persuade supervisors to give you a chance. I think a career in research is cultivated through a sequence of opportune events, but is fed by the resilience that powers through the more frequent setbacks along the way.