Interview with Christopher Choy | President of the UNE Surgical Society

This month, we’re spotlighting the University of New England Surgical Society (UNESS), a vibrant part of our Clubs & Societies program. In this interview, we spoke with society president, Christopher Choy, to delve into UNESS’s mission, the exciting events they organise, and how they create enriching educational experiences for their members. From hands-on workshops and academic sessions to social gatherings and online resources, UNESS offers a comprehensive space for UNE students passionate about surgery.

Read on to explore how this community contributes to both personal and professional development, fostering a supportive environment where future surgeons can thrive.

1. In a nutshell, what’s your club/society all about?

The University of New England Surgical Society (UNESS) is primarily aimed at encouraging surgical interest for the local medical student community studying in Armidale. Our vision this year has been to provide more opportunities in surgical education and professional development.

2. What’s your role within the club and what does it involve?

As the president of UNESS, my role mainly involves helping coordinate and run all of the club’s educational events and initiatives aimed at fostering interest in surgery. Some of my key responsibilities so far have included helping develop the educational program for the year and expanding the committee.

3. What are some of the most popular events or activities your club organises?

UNESS hosts a diverse array of engaging events and initiatives throughout the academic year. Our calendar is filled with popular traditional offerings as well as exciting new programs.

On the educational front, we continue to run our trademark fun, hands-on events like the emergency medical challenge and suturing skills night. These interactive workshops allow students to get practical experience in key surgical skills. We also provide formal academic sessions such as anatomy and embryology revision for years 1 and 2, plus a VIVAs workshop to prepare students for clinical examinations.

This year, we launched our inaugural Surgical Speakers Night – bringing in practising surgeons to share their experiences and insights with students. It was a huge success and we hope to make the Surgical Speakers Night an annual event.

Later this year, we are also aiming to host our first-ever Golden Scalpel Games, an entertaining surgical skills competition.

Last but not least, we also have a few exciting events coming up on our social calendar. Highlights include our legendary Scrub Crawl pub night and a Halloween costume party in collaboration that are always big hits with members.

4. How can someone with a strong interest in surgery get the most out of being a member?

The Surgical society provides a lot of invaluable opportunities to learn more about the surgical field, beyond what is covered in the classroom. There are a number of things members can do to make the most out of the opportunities offered by the club.

  1. Attend our hands-on skills workshops like suturing and the emergency medical challenge to build your technical abilities. These are invaluable opportunities to learn directly from experienced surgeons and practitioners.
  2. Make it a priority to go to events like our Surgical Speakers Night and surgical careers night. Hearing firsthand perspectives from surgeons across specialties can help solidify your interests and provide mentorship.
  3. Come to our anatomy/embryology review sessions and VIVAs workshop to reinforce your medical knowledge foundation for surgery.

5. For online students who can’t make it to campus events, what are some ways they can still be involved with UNESS?

Unfortunately a lot of the events run by the surgical society take place on campus given their interactive and engaging nature. Nonetheless, for a lot of the educational events we do have online recordings available as well as online resources such as powerpoint slides to help out with your learning.

6. Does your club have any online platforms or social media groups, where students can connect with you?

UNESS has a number of social media platforms through which we share upcoming events, opportunities and updates to our student members. We mainly use Facebook and Instagram to promote surgical experiences, competitions and fun social nights. Join us on Facebook at University of New England Surgical Society and on Instagram @uness_official.

7. How has being a member of UNESS added to your student experience?

Being an executive member of the Surgical Society has greatly enriched my student experience at the University of New England.

This role has allowed me to collaborate with a diverse group of individuals, enhancing my teamwork and leadership skills. Organising events and workshops has also provided me with practical experience in project management and event planning. Most importantly I have made a lot of great friends along the way.

All in all, being a part of this organisation has been an invaluable experience for both my personal and professional development. It has not only broadened my horizons but also equipped me with essential skills that will benefit me throughout my career.

8. Looking ahead, are there any exciting events or initiatives planned by the club that students can look forward to?

Of course! We have an anatomy and embryology night coming up this semester that will be a great exam revision opportunity for our preclinical students in year one and two.

9. Is there anything unique or quirky about UNESS that you’d like to share?

One of the most exciting, upcoming events is our annual scrub crawl. Everyone dresses up in colourful scrubs and we bar hop around town. Come along for some drinks, food and good vibes.

10. For someone who might be hesitant to join a club, what would you say to convince them to give yours a try?

Our club offers a welcoming and supportive environment for all. Our events are a great opportunity to make new friends and connect with like-minded peers during your time at university. We have something for everyone!

Find your fit with Clubs & Societies and become a member of the UNE Surgical Society (UNESS) by heading to their UniOne profile and selecting ‘Join or Renew’.