It is not every day that Yale medical students come away from a learning event with hoots, hollers, and high fives, but that was the scene at Yale Urology’s recent surgical skills fair, which drew a record number of participants. The annual event is a staff, student, resident, and faculty favorite and provides hands-on learning for everything from gown/glove donning and suturing to Foley placements and ureteroscope navigation challenges.
“We’re quite a multidisciplinary field and this is a great opportunity to showcase that,” said Piruz Motamedinia, MD, residency program director. “There are many diagnoses that overlap with us. Even if these students don’t go into urology, it’s good for them to be familiar with the specialty.”
The exposure can be convincing. Fola Laditi, a fourth-year medical student at Yale, remembers first coming to the event three years ago. He admits at the time it was an afterthought. He registered for the event late, in fact. But as soon as he made it to the first interactive station, he describes a warm, inclusive, and enthusiastic environment. “It’s definitely what helped me pick urology as my subspecialty for my surgery clerkship … The faculty and residents made me feel a part of the team, even as a med student.” Today, Laditi is an officer for Yale’s urology student interest group and hopes to match into a urology residency program in the coming months.
That is music to many ears, particularly Yale Urology’s leader. Professor and Chair Isaac Y. Kim, MD, PhD, MBA, opened the event by explaining his steadfast support of this kind of education initiative. “My personal mission is to train as many surgeon-scientists as possible.” And the key to building interest in urology is building interest in surgery. Several took the bait.
“My biggest takeaway?” answered first-year med student Karthik Chetlapalli, “I didn’t realize minimally invasive and robotic surgery were such a big part of urology.”
“I was anti-surgery coming into school,” said Elena Wilson, also a first-year med student. “But I’ve done some shadowing with urology … It’s great to see the breadth of the field.”
Immersion at the interactive booths and spontaneous networking with faculty and residents sparked further discovery. Allison Law, first-year med student, said she was surprised to learn female urology was part of the discipline. Katherine Rotker, MD, who had a penile prosthesis at her station, said many students were “amazed” the prosthesis is a common treatment for erectile dysfunction and Peyronie’s disease.
Second-year med student Hale Jaeger noted that urology is great at helping connect the dots. “I think many of us were drawn here because we’re learning skills that are really generalizable.”
Faculty discover, as well. “I’m reminded how much we take for granted,” said Thomas Buckley, MD, who led one of the suturing stations. “So many little steps of our surgeries—our care—are routine. I don’t even think about it,” he said. “Events like this help remind me to break things down so I can teach them to others.”
Even residents got in on the action and found that being on the teaching end for a change can be quite refreshing. “I love this,” said PGY-4 Amir Khan, MD. “It’s great to see the enthusiasm. Seeing others excited about what you’re excited about never gets old!”