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Meet one of tomorrow's surgeons

Miss Abirami Kathiravelupillai, intercalated in Anatomy, Developmental and Human Biology at King’s College London, is currently a final year medicine student at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. This is her third year sitting on RSM Students Section Council. In 2022, she led the annual national RSM Tomorrow’s Surgeons 2022 Students Conference at the RSM.

We caught up with her about life as a final year med student, what it’s like to be on an RSM Section Council leading educational events, and her hopes and dreams for her future career.

Miss Kathiravelupillai pictured at her graduation at King's College London

My biggest inspiration for pursuing medicine is my godmother, a German doctor whose father was a Prussian surgeon.

She frequently accompanied me to the Kinderarzt (Paediatrician), bought me my first German anatomy textbook (Lehrbuch der topographischen Anatomie) and taught me needlework.

My early positive childhood experiences inspired me to pursue surgery and dentistry with hopes of becoming an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (OMFS) in the future.

As a medical student, I’ve attended many events run by the RSM Students Section.

Engaging in RSM courses regularly throughout your degree can be incredibly beneficial to your medical studies and future specialty application.

Participants at the Porcine skin closure and anaesthetic infiltration workshop

A particularly memorable event is the audit lecture series two years ago. The interactive series taught me the fundamental steps of the audit cycle and how to successfully plan, undertake and implement research findings to clinical practice.

Having undertaken my audit on gaining ‘Consent in the Age of Montgomery: A Review of Myringotomy and Grommet Practice at a UK Teaching Hospital’, I was invited to showcase my poster presentation at the 2020 Association of Surgeon in Training (ASiT) annual International Conference in Birmingham and received many compliments.

Participants being taught Basics in skin closure by Consultant General Surgeon and 2011 Associations of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) President Mr Goldie Khera

When applying to medicine, it is important to undertake work experience across different medical specialties.

Undertaking work experience as a student will allow you to appreciate the breadth of medicine and decide if pursuing a medical degree is suitable for you. Volunteering at local hospitals, St John’s Ambulance and care homes will highlight the importance of teamwork in medicine.

The current medical outcomes for graduate doctors have a strong focus on research, leadership and education.

Demonstrating these skills when applying to medical school will show your early dedication and commitment to the career.

During my application, I spoke about the immunology research that I undertook at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel as well as the developmental biology research that I undertook at Cambridge University during my gap year. 

Miss Kathiravelupillai at the Gurdon Institute with Sir John Bertrand Gurdon, 2012 Nobel Prize winner for Physiology and Medicine, during her gap year. 

Having been a regular Students Council member during my secondary school years, I found it very appealing to be able to be part of a national team of medical student representatives.

The RSM Council has a democratic voting process and, each year, a new team of executive committee members and Students Council members collaborate to put together an exciting series of events for all the RSM Students Section members to attend.

Miss Kathiravelupillai and the 2022 RSM Students Section Council

From my previous experience of being Regional Ambassador for ASiT (Association of Surgeons in Training) and Student Representative for StarSurg (Student Audit and Research in Surgery), I was very keen to increase the number of surgical-themed resources available to medical students nationally.

By being on the RSM Section Council, we were able to address these unmet needs and run more surgical-themed events throughout the year which were a great success!

If you are on the fence about joining, I would advise going for it!

The RSM is a welcoming and supportive institution and you never know where opportunities will take you.

Having attended several RSM public events as a GCSE student, I would have never imagined that, 10 years later, I would be in the same building, on the RSM Students Section Council and leading the annual national RSM Tomorrow’s Surgeons 2022 Student Conference.

Always have courage in your choices because you never know where the future will take you.

I feel absolutely honoured to have been selected to lead the Tomorrow's Surgeons Conference 2022.

This year’s conference was the first in-person student conference since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having attended the annual conference in the past, I was determined to make this year’s event memorable to both attendees and event organisers.

Miss Kathiravelupillai leading the RSM Tomorrow's Surgeons Conference in June 2022

With the support of the RSM’s Dean of Education and the RSM events team, we were able to run an unforgettable event with more than 17 speakers, four surgical skills workshops and numerous poster presentations and prizes.

Former RSM Dean Professor Scott awarding prizes for Poster Presentations

Having led local conferences at my medical school, running a national event at a prestigious institution like the RSM allowed me to showcase my experience in events planning, time management and delegation of tasks to the wider team.

The event received enormously positive feedback and is set to run again next year.

The Students Council has many exciting events planned for this year including Tomorrow's Doctors Conference (the new name for the Tomorrow's Surgeons Conference).

It has been very rewarding to see previous RSM student members progress onto executive council and lead this year’s events.

The Students Council is seeking to expand the educational resources available to students, including revision notes for finals.

Participants at the Porcine tendon repair workshop

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of digital healthcare with many advances in remote surgery, medical imaging and education.

Robotic surgery is growing more sophisticated by the day, and virtual reality is helping globalise medical education to the remotest areas of the world.

Virtual reality in medicine and surgery (VRiMS) was founded at my medical school and is currently part of Health Education England’s (HEE) National Strategic Plan in Simulation and technology enhanced learning (SIM-TEL).

Participants being shown how to access Virtual reality in medicine and surgery (VRiMS)

It has been very exciting to be involved in bringing VRiMS to the RSM and I look forward to facilitating upcoming RSM VRiMS collaborative events.

Upon completion of my medical degree and foundation training, I look forward to pursuing a Postgraduate degree in Dentistry in preparation for a career in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMFS).

In the future I would like to embark on a PhD as part of the NIHR Integrated Academic Training Pathway in preparation for a career in Academic OMFS Surgery.

As an Academic Surgeon, I hope to conduct ground-breaking research that will improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

With a passion for medical and surgical education, I also look forward to contributing to training the next generation of healthcare professionals by embarking on a PGCert in Clinical Anatomy with Medical Education.

With a lifetime of learning ahead of me, I look forward to pursuing my future career goals with diligence, perseverance and humility.

Miss Kathiravelupillai perfecting her suturing skills at the 2021 Royal College of Surgeons Surgical Skills for Students and Health Professionals workshop

Learn more about the RSM Students Section on this page


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