The Surgical Interest Group (SIG) at the West Virginia University School of Medicine (WVU SoM) has recently become much more robust, inclusive, diverse, and active. Over the past two years, a significant amount of time and effort have been put into developing programs to introduce students to surgical fields earlier within the curriculum, through a variety of lecture and simulation based sessions.
The group caters mostly to MSI and MSII students and exposes them to general surgery and all of the surgical subspecialties. Surgical faculty involvement with activities has markedly increased over the past year and is now vigorous and growing. MSIII and MSIV students have recently been incorporated as educators in the curriculum to assist with suture workshops and simulations and to provide advice for USMLE studying and residency application.
Lectures over the past two years are well attended (by 30-50 students) and have included speakers from specialties such as: trauma surgery, neurosurgery, pediatric surgery, otolaryngology, general surgery, vascular surgery, plastic surgery, surgical oncology, urology, colorectal surgery, orthopedics, breast surgery, and cardiothoracic surgery. In addition, each year the group holds multiple simulations utilizing the state of the art West Virginia Simulation Training and Education for Patient Safety (WV STEPS) Center. http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/steps/ These simulations include a suture workshop each fall (attended by nearly 100 students annually), a robotic simulation in the winter, and surgical simulations each spring (with endoscopy, laparoscopy, suture techniques, and central line insertions).
The WVU SoM SIG is also dedicated to giving back to the state of West Virginia. For each simulation, students volunteer to provide canned goods and personal items to donate to local charities, In addition, medical students help provide information to the general public on the Stop The Bleed Campaign (https://www.dhs.gov/stopthebleed), common sources of trauma in our area (four-wheelers, bicycle helmets, etc), and breast cancer awareness at University sporting events. Finally, students also volunteer their time in collecting and donating medical and surgical supplies to local surgical mission organizations.
Success for the WVU SoM SIG cannot be measured solely by the number of students who match into general surgery or surgical subspecialty residencies. Although, as an aside, that number has risen substantially in the last several years. Rather, success is defined by activities for students that are both fun and educational and raise the awareness for surgical disciplines in the eyes of all students. In addition, the group has excelled at connecting students to faculty members early on in medical school, creating lifelong mentors to help guide them through their careers.