Bulletin 132, April 2022

From the Editor, Dr Helgi Johannsson

Welcome to the spring edition of the Bulletin – the trainee edition. I want to thank Drs Sen and Thoms for their excellent work in curating this issue, which is certainly relevant to all of us despite being labelled the ‘trainee’ issue.

When I wrote my last Bulletin editorial in December I was looking forward to being away on a beach over Christmas, and to my 50th birthday. I am now looking forward to taking exactly the same trip over Easter, having had to cancel Christmas, thanks to Omicron visiting the household. I know many of my friends and colleagues were in the same situation, and on a personal level I am extremely glad our work and personal lives are slowly returning to normal.

Over the last two years we have all had to adapt, and the process of training has changed beyond recognition. Necessity is certainly the mother of invention, and it’s been very interesting reading about some of the ways technology is being used to teach and train – virtual reality, 360-degree video, and I’m sure at some point in the future we will enter the Metaverse and be able to experience teaching and training through an entirely different world.

None of this, however, will ever replace face-to-face experience. The way we interact with our patients and with each other cannot be entirely taught using virtual reality, and the article on anaesthesia and the English language shows us just how subtle the way we communicate can be. Our choice of words matters, the intonation we use makes a difference, and subtle body language changes can make the difference between a positive experience and a traumatic experience for our patients. Do we say ‘a sharp scratch’ or not? I remember once supervising a trainee who kept using phrases like ‘you’ll feel like you’ve had a couple of gin and tonics’ and asking what sort of drink the patient wanted. The patient eventually asked the trainee to stop talking about alcohol, they were a reformed alcoholic and really didn’t want to be reminded of their extremely traumatic battle with addiction.

I really hope you’ve seen a change in the way the College conducts its business over the last few months, and I’m looking forward to more changes in the future. We have changed the way we communicate, and I hope you will agree that it’s open and honest, and simply more human. I am also delighted to welcome the seven new Council members to the fold. I am particularly pleased that we have better representation from Council members at the beginning of their consultant careers. I hope you agree that they reflect the diversity of the specialty, and I know they will do an excellent job in their representation of their members. It is also with sadness that I say farewell to some great representatives of the profession who have now become friends through our work together. I must particularly thank Dr Williams for her article and her hard work as SAS representative – Dr Kumar has some (metaphorically) big shoes to fill.