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100 years of urology at the Royal Society of Medicine

In 1920 the specialty of urology was in its infancy, with almost all urological surgery carried out by general surgeons. The cystoscope, that most basic of urological tools, was at a rudimentary stage. Fast-forward 100 years to 2020 and we share in the celebrations that mark the centenary of the RSM’s Section of Urology, established all those years ago to foster the academic dream of like-minded surgeons who envisaged a time when urology would stand on its own.

The establishment of urology as a distinct specialty was consolidated 25 years later with the founding of its own specialist association, The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS).

Early cystoscope

The first 99 years

For most of its first 99 years the Urology Section, like other Sections, lived on a diet of in-house meetings at the RSM, with only two outside meetings annually – the President’s Day, and the ever-popular Overseas Winter Meeting.

Covid-19, though, has precipitated massive and rapid change, with many trainees across all areas of medicine facing huge challenges in continuing their specialty education. Stepping into the breach, the Urology Section Council moved swiftly to run a series of webinars between April and July this year to deliver an emergency package of continuing education for urology trainees.

The webinars, all of which featured high profile speakers, were generously supported by The Urology Foundation and the Hadley Trust, and the Section is very grateful for their financial assistance. The webinars were very well attended with up to 200 delegates, thanks in no small way to the event executives and AV team at the RSM for their expertise in making the series an overnight success.

A Millin's resectoscope

Looking ahead

To mark the start of the new academic year, the Section held two webinars to celebrate the 100th anniversary, one a historical perspective and the other a future gaze at the next 25 years of healthcare, with Professor Sir John Bell from Oxford and Dr Jennifer Dixon from the Health Foundation.

The Section also held its first virtual MDT. The format worked well with crisp patient scenarios and an expert panel, and feedback was excellent. Further virtual MDTs are planned for the spring, alongside state-of-the-art webinars and further trainee curriculum-focused webinars.

What of the future? Will we go back to in-house meetings when restrictions are lifted? You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, and the future will be a mixture of in-house meetings, streamed of course for those who don’t want to travel, and webinars.

But the winter meeting? Somehow a virtual overseas meeting doesn’t have the appeal of actually being there for seven days; after all, the thing we all miss most about the webinar format is we don’t get to share a glass of wine with friends!

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