“The future is here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
The author of this quote from the 1990’s could not have foreseen the pandemic, the consequent adversity and the worldwide response to it - one of humankind’s greatest challenges. For surgeons, it has us focused on new ways of managing the health crisis and by planning for the future in a sustainable way.
We knew before 2020 that the workplace was changing, and that technology was causing shifts in our patient management flows. The pandemic has accelerated this, and brought us hubs, hybrids, bubbles and telehealth. All of these have had to be applied to the business of the College - healthcare delivery, advocacy, selection, training and assessment and ongoing education. The new toolkit of the workplace has made us ready for a decentralised and flexible workforce. It has placed us in a better position to support our colleagues in remote, regional, and global communities. By necessity, we have become more dispersed.
The pandemic has made our big world contract a little. We have become not only more conscious of our previous notions of limitless growth but have also begun to challenge such notions. Even the triaging of vaccinations has made us reconsider some basic questions in surgery such as which procedures are high or low value to patient outcomes. We have had to reorganise our daily management of health resources, reset surgical quality initiatives, and reinforce the goal of low outcome variability. When it comes to surgical rationing, we have had to choose wisely and avoid treatment futility. All of this has required innovation while maintaining our commitment to quality.
To paraphrase Charles Darwin, it is not the strongest nor the most intelligent that survive but those that are most adaptable to change. Surgeons are responding. Surgeons leadership in meeting these changes in the diversified and dispersed world are enhancing the future survival of our high surgical standards. We would love to showpiece all that our community has accomplished during these changed times.
The organising committee of the RACS 90th Annual Scientific Congress welcomes you to Brisbane from Monday 2 May 2022 for all that southeast Queensland has to offer. We also want to share with you the latest advances in surgical specialisation, to enjoy the Fellowship and networking, and to exchange big ideas as we adapt and embrace our new normal.
Professor Deborah Bailey
ASC Scientific Convener