Improved global surgical training reaches far beyond the operating room

Improving the surgical skills of physicians improves their skills in the operating room, and has far-reaching benefits for the health of the community, according to Professor Sir Murray F. Brennan, one of the judging panelists for the Global Surgical Training Challenge.

“If we can improve the quality, safety and outcomes for surgical patients by improving surgeons’ skills, then you improve the confidence of the community in the providers,” he says. “A patient will be more likely to come in for an earlier diagnosis if there is confidence in the surgical team.”

In oncology, the vast majority of treatment protocols includes a surgical intervention. “If we have trained surgeons in function-preserving procedures,” says Dr. Brennan, “then people will be less likely to delay their visit to the physician, and we have a better opportunity for a successful treatment.”

“If we can improve the quality, safety and outcomes for surgical patients by improving surgeons’ skills, then you improve the confidence of the community in the providers”

Professor Sir Murray F. Brennan

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Surgical procedures that preserve or improve function also have a positive impact on the economy, as functional patients are able to return to their jobs. They can be a support, rather than a financial liability, for their family. “It is an imperative for municipalities and public health officials to invest in improving access to quality surgery,” says Dr. Brennan. “It is an investment in the economy when you can return people’s function in the community.”

The improvement of a surgeon’s skills has a significant return on the investment. ‘Surgeons can have a remarkable impact with very inexpensive surgical instruments,” he says. “We are not talking about very expensive, high-tech diagnostics or the latest equipment like MRI-guided surgery. It can be simple, and it can be very cost effective.”

These kinds of investments and innovative approaches to surgical skills training can yield far-reaching improvements in the health of a community. Gaining the confidence of the population can then lead to a willingness to seek earlier diagnosis, which can positively influence a health system to address upstream toward disease and injury prevention.

Dr. Brennan is an oncologic surgeon that has lectured around the world and authored scientific papers, chapters, and books on soft tissue sarcoma. He has earned several accolades with various global medical organisations/associations. He has been awarded Honorary Fellowships in Ireland, Scotland, England, Australasia, and more. In 2015 he was appointed as Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.