Philadelphia Surgery Conference Teaches the Fundamentals
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Surgery Conference Teaches the Fundamentals

March 30, 2022

PCOM medical students practice surgical techniques on simulatorsThroughout the global pandemic, opportunities for hands-on experience learning the fundamentals of surgery and, by extension, boosting confidence for third-year rotations have been difficult to come by. First and second-year students from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) had an opportunity to change that recently at the Philadelphia Surgery Conference hosted by the Wisely Surgical Association and held in-person for the first time in two years.

“The hands-on experiences [during the pandemic] have been extremely limited,” said Erin Hart, DO ‘24, president of the Wisely Surgical Association and one of the lead organizers of the event. “The real impact is the confidence we have going into rotations. Having these experiences going into clinical rotations can be really helpful so you’re not overwhelmed.”

Medical students observe as a fellow student practices surgical techniquesFeaturing workshop sessions on basic surgical topics including “Knot Tying and Suturing,” “Gowning and Gloving,” and “Running a Code,” among others, students in the Wisely Surgical Association, Global Surgery Group, PCOM Association of Women's Surgeons, and Emergency Medicine Club learned from general and orthopedic surgery residents as well as attending physicians, including many PCOM alumni. The student-led event was supported by faculty advisor Arthur J. Sesso, DO '81, professor, senior associate dean and chair of the Department of Surgery.

“The alumni are fantastic and they want nothing more than to help,” said Lydia Kersh, DO ‘24, president of the Global Surgery Group and co-organizer of the conference. “I’m really thankful for how easy they made this process.”

Though the conference was primarily geared towards students entering surgical specialities, it also featured workshop sessions focused on areas such as orthopedics. “The cool thing about this conference is that it’s not geared strictly to surgery,” said Hart. “We tried to give a variety of experiences to cover a range of specialities, not just general surgery.”

Asked what they hope students gained from the experience, organizers were hopeful programs like this would help reduce anxiety heading into third-year rotations, but also serve as a moment of reflection. “I want [students] to be confident and comfortable with those basic skills they’ll need for rotations,” said Hart. Kersh added, “An event like this can pull students out of their books and remind them why they want to be a doctor.”

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    Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit or call 215-871-6100.

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