WAD – Hannah Thomas

Name: Hannah Thomas 

Role: Events Coordinator
Lifebox-Students for Global Health
University Representatives Programme

“Supporting anaesthetic physicians with the resources they require…is essential.”

#WorldAnaesthesiaDay #CountMeIn

We know that students are the future of global anaesthesia and surgery. In celebration of World Anaesthesia Day, we’re supporting the WFSA‘s Count Me In campaign, sharing perspectives from students advocating for safer anaesthesia and surgical care as part of our Lifebox-Students for Global Health University Representative Programme.

Next up, Hannah Thomas…

You’re the new Events Coordinator of the Lifebox-Students for Global Health University Rep Programme, what motivated you to apply for this role?

I have been the Lifebox-SfGH Rep for St Andrews for the past year. This year, I sought to adopt a more hands-on and involved role in overseeing and organizing the rep programme.

As a future surgeon, safe surgical care, both pre, intra and post-op, resonates with me personally. We cannot ignore our surgical privileges here in the UK. Safe surgical care is a right that we are fortunate to have access too; however, this right is inaccessible in the majority of the world. The dangerous effects of lack of access to adequate surgical monitoring equipment, adequate sterilization procedures, and adequate post-op complication prophylaxis, are all too common phenomena worldwide. Laws must be reformed, healthcare professionals must be trained universally- Ipso facto, there should be the institution of a widescale grassroots activism and reform initiative to help facilitate safe surgical and anaesthesia care in every country. I believe the Lifebox and SfGH missions are tantamount to the future of surgical care worldwide, and I am so proud to be a part of this work.

This year the WFSA’s theme for WAD focuses on human resources for anaesthesia. How do you think students can get involved in supporting the urgent scale-up of the anaesthesia workforce around the world? 

In resource-limited settings, the volume of anaesthetists working on a hospital service can be scarce. This disproportionately affects rural and remote areas where demand may be great but anaesthetic trainees may not be available. In order to scale-up the anaesthesia workforce, these gaps must be filled with physicians’ adept at thriving in leadership positions where a great amount of initiative is required. I believe students can begin to foster such initiative in medical school settings. Furthermore, supporting anaesthetic physicians with the resources they require to perform their jobs adequately, is essential. Fundraising, raising awareness and gathering support through organizations such as MedAID can help implement this support. Finally, as medical students, engagement with career opportunities in anaesthesia should be sought in an attempt to garner awareness towards this specialty.

What do you hope to achieve in your role over the next year? 

In the upcoming year, my priority is to engage with our university representatives through a myriad of platforms in order to further propel the Lifebox-SfGH messages throughout the UK. As the Events coordinator, my role is to support our reps in fostering positive advocacy at their respective institutions. I bring with me a variety of leadership, events and publicity experience from various committees and I hope to be a key contact for students to approach for advice regarding their upcoming local events. I want to encourage our reps to be creative, think outside the box, and be bold in their approach to advocacy and fundraising. I believe it is important to serve as a positive and motivated role model; therefore, I will be curating a series of global health webinars and national events throughout the year as well. Championing an inclusive, collaborative environment is the mantra I hope to instill to ensure the scheme produces high quality events, garnering positive attention for the global surgery cause.

Why do you think it’s important for medical students to be engaged with global surgery and anaesthesia?

In our ever-changing world, you are more likely to be killed by a surgically-treated condition than an infectious disease. If we as medical students are to advance the care of patients worldwide, surgery and anaesthesia warrant investment. Furthermore, it is important to understand that one cannot exist without the other. Medicine is a profession of teamwork and surgical settings are no exception, therefore a cohesive understanding of both surgery and anaesthesia is required. Engaging with external resources and up-to-date resources facilitates awareness of not only the clinical demands of each, but equally the challenges they face in resource-limited settings. There are many opportunities to become involved in these specialties both locally i.e. through university anaesthesia and surgical societies, and nationally- through organizations such as Lifebox.