RCSI study shows people are taking more prescription medication but finds improvement in prescribing quality

A new study from the RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) Department of General Practice has found that people in Ireland are taking more prescribed medications now than they were 18 years ago. However, the research also revealed that despite this increase, the quality of prescribing medications in Ireland has improved with a marked 60% decreased risk associated with prescribing drugs in older people.

The research, which charted how prescribing has changed for medical card patients over a 15 year period, was developed by RCSI in conjunction with the Health Research Board (HRB) Centre for Primary Care Research and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and was recently published in the BMJ Open. This study is based on data from the Health Service Executive Primary Care Reimbursement Service (HSE-PCRS).

The research showed a 250% increase in the prevalence of polypharmacy (the use of five or more medications by a single patient) across all age groups from 1997 to 2012. When demographic changes were accounted for, the number of people being prescribed five or more medications increased four-fold and the number of people taking ten or more medicines increased ten-fold.

The study’s lead researcher, Frank Moriarty

The study also investigated potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP), which is the use of a medication in a way that its risks outweigh its benefits, in those aged over 65. It was found that despite the surge in polypharmacy, a main driver of PIP, there was a 60% decrease in risk of PIP in the older Irish population. Given that polypharmacy has increased and that PIP risk has decreased, the study suggests that clinicians are now prescribing more appropriately.

The medications which have seen the highest prescription increases over the 15 year period of the study include statins for cholesterol, anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin and proton pump inhibitors for stomach acid. Prescriptions for drugs such as aspirin and digoxin, which when prescribed at higher doses are unlikely to provide further benefit but increase the risk of side effects, were found to decrease over the course of the study.

Speaking on the findings, the lead author of the study Frank Moriarty, HRB PhD Scholar in Health Services Research at the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research in RCSI, said “We have seen an escalation in the number of people, particularly those in middle and older age, taking multiple regular medicines in recent years and it is now normal for someone aged over 65 to be prescribed at least five different drugs. The more medicines a person is prescribed, the higher the chance of drug interactions, side effects or adverse events. So with more people taking complex combinations of drugs than ever before, it’s reassuring that the risk of potentially inappropriate prescribing has reduced when this is accounted for.”

Mr Moriarty added, “However, quality improvement strategies and interventions are needed to further improve prescribing appropriateness, particularly for PIP medicines that have increased or remained prevalent in the last 15 years, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and benzodiazepines. Patients and doctors discussing and making decisions together may help to reduce any unnecessary drugs and lower the risk of prescribing problems.”

RCSI is ranked among the top 50 most international universities in the world (Times Higher Education University World Rankings, 2015-16). It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.

RCSI Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St Stephens Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.  Tel: +353 1 402 2100

Graduate entry may be the best medicine for doctors

Students who take a post- graduate approach to studying medicine have the edge over those who enter straight from school, according to new research from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

The findings emerge as a debate rages about the pressure on Leaving Cert students to score high points in order to be in with a chance of getting a place on prestige courses.

There has also been controversy about how colleges deliberately limit places in order to drive points up.

Higher Education Authority (HEA) chief executive Tom Boland said it was important that colleges publish the number of places available on courses and the number of offers made, and of greater importance was that there were more broader entry routes.

While there is transparency about the places available in medicine, the fevered competition among CAO applicants for medical schools has pushed points requirements to the limits.

The RCSI research involved comparing students on its undergraduate and graduate entry medicine programmes. Graduate entry students do not come straight from school, arriving instead from a range of backgrounds having done another degree first – perhaps law, Irish or English.

The research found graduate entry students performed at least as well, even though they do their medical course over four years rather than five or six.

Professor Seamus Sreenan, Director of Graduate Entry Medicine Program, RCSI
Professor Seamus Sreenan, Director of Graduate Entry Medicine Program, RCSI

And, in what may come as a surprise, graduate entry students with non-science backgrounds do as well as those who come with a science-related degree.

It is, however, a costly route, because on top of funding an undergraduate degree, entrants pay about €16,000 a year for each of the four years of the programme.

Commenting on the findings, Prof Seamus Sreenan, the RCSI’s director of Gradate Entry Medicine, said graduate entry medicine students in their final two years did “slightly better in assessment” than undergraduate students at the same stage, despite the shorter duration of the course.

He said the study found that “having a scientific background at time of entry to graduate entry medicine confers no significant advantage in the final clinical assessments”.

Prof Sreenan said the typical age of their graduate students was 25, though some were older.

He said graduate entry created greater diversity among students, and students were generally older and more mature.

“We believe this creates a richer mix of experience in the students graduating and ultimately working in our hospitals,” he said.

It is the first time in Ireland that there has been objective analysis of the performance of graduate entry and undergrad- uate entry medical students.

As well as the RCSI, a number of universities run graduate medicine programmes that are open to candidates who hold a minimum 2:1 honours degree in any discipline and attain a certain standard in an aptitude test known as Gamsat.

The pressure on Leaving Cert students to achieve high points for entry to undergraduate medicine was one of the reasons for a significant expansion of graduate entry medicine programmes.

Between 2008 and 2010, the number of places at graduate level more than doubled to 240, compared with about 470 in undergraduate courses. The competition for places is less pressurised than through the CAO.

The RCSI research, carried out between 2008 and 2013, has been published in leading journal BMC Medical Education.

RCSI – Global Research Team Achieve Breakthrough in the Treatment of Hereditary Emphysema

Team involving Professor Gerry McElvaney from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland involved in global study

Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have made an important breakthrough in the understanding and treatment of hereditary emphysema.  The findings of this global study, published in the premier medical journal, Lancet, indicate that early introduction of A1P1 protein augmentation therapy to patients with emphysema may be beneficial in the treatment of the condition.

Professor Gerry McElvaney, Department of Medicine, RCSI led a team of international colleagues to scientifically validate that A1P1 protein augmentation therapy is successful in slowing the progression of emphysema and loss of lung density, signalling a breakthrough in the treatment of hereditary emphysema.

Alpha 1 is an inherited disorder that results in low levels of the alpha 1-antitrypsin (A1P1) protein in blood and in the lungs. In adults, this genetic condition often results in debilitating syndromes such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which comprises emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is characterised by destruction of the lung tissue needed to carry oxygen from the air into the bloodstream and chronic bronchitis leads to the over production of mucus in the lungs. This causes shortness of breath in its mildest form and in its severest form, patients must use an oxygen mask and may need a lung transplant. The first single lung and first double lung transplant recipients in Ireland were people with Alpha-1.

Alpha-1 is much more common in Ireland than most other countries. After cystic fibrosis, it is the most common fatal inherited lung condition in Ireland. Alpha-1 is estimated to affect more than 3,000 people nationally in its most severe form and the less severe form may affect as many as 200,000 individuals in Ireland. 1 in 25 Irish individuals carry the gene for the disease.

The findings of this study increases the chances that this form of therapy will be licensed and reimbursed in Ireland in the future. Augmentation therapy is the use of alpha-1 antitrypsin protein (AAT) purified from the blood of healthy human donors to increase the alpha-1 levels circulating in the blood and lungs of Alphas diagnosed with emphysema.

The study, which was carried out in 28 centres across 13 countries, measured the efficacy of augmentation therapy over a four year period. A total of 23 patients from Ireland were involved in the study, the majority of whom are still receiving the medication today.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine, RCSI said, “The findings of the study shows that augmentation therapy involving a naturally occurring protein is successful and early treatment is of benefit. This research gives new hope for a better quality of life for sufferers of hereditary emphysema and COPD and thus bridges the gap between research and treatment.”

The research findings were published in Lancet, a prestigious journal that highlights medical advances resulting from scientific research. The study was carried out by a team of global physicians from countries including Canada, Denmark, Australia and Ireland on behalf of the RAPID Trial Study Group and was funded through CSL Behring and the Alpha One Foundation.

RCSI is among the top 50 most international universities in the world (Times Higher Education University World Rankings, 2014-15). It is a not-for-profit health sciences institution focused on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.


Malaria vaccine tested at RCSI proves successful in first human trial

Two new malaria vaccines which have undergone a clinical trial in humans, carried out by researchers at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) in Dublin, have been proven to be well tolerated and produce a strong immune response. The results of the clinical trial are published in the current issue of the journal PLOS ONE. The clinical trial was conducted by researchers at RCSI’s Department of International Health & Tropical Medicine at the RCSI Clinical Research Centre in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, in collaboration with the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. The project is funded by the European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) with the support of Irish Aid.

This is the first time the new vaccines were trialled in humans and the first human clinical trial of any malaria vaccine to be carried out in Ireland. Completion of this type of “first in human” study (phase one) in Ireland is significant not only for malaria vaccine research, but also for translational research in general in Ireland.

The clinical trial involved 24 Irish volunteers who received the vaccines to assess safety and the immune responses. The vaccines were found to have an excellent safety profile and produced the appropriate immune response, generating specific T cells that are primed to respond to malaria proteins. Combining these vaccines with others in development may lead to a vaccine that could prevent malaria, which would have a huge impact on human health as a result. The vaccines have now progressed to the next phase of clinical trials at the University of Oxford.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 207 million cases of malaria occurred globally in 2012 and 627,000 malaria deaths. Most cases (80%) and deaths (90%) occurred in Africa and most deaths (77%) were in children under five years of age.

The first author on the study is Dr Eoghan De Barra, Research Fellow, RCSI Department of International Health & Tropical Medicine, who worked with collaborators at RCSI and senior author Professor Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute at University of Oxford.

Minister for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Cooperation, Mr Seán Sherlock, TD said: “Irish Aid has contributed €8 million to EVI since 2007 and will continue our support into 2015. I am very encouraged to see the positive outcome of this important trial being carried out by Irish researchers as part of an international effort to address a global health problem that affects millions worldwide. Irish researchers are making a contribution to finding new and better products to improve the health of some of the most vulnerable populations in low income countries, and this is supported by longstanding Irish Aid work in vaccine development internationally and through support to EVI.”

Professor Sam McConkey, Head of the RCSI Department of International Health & Tropical Medicine and Senior Author on the study commented: “Malaria remains a major cause of mortality in the world, with almost 700,000 deaths annually. In low income countries where malaria is endemic, the expensive multi-drug therapy required to treat malaria is often not an available option so there is a need for new preventative tools.The results of the RCSI malaria vaccine trial, which demonstrate both safety for the patient and a positive clinical and immunological response, are very promising and represent an important step in the development of an effective vaccine for the disease.”

“Conducting this first in human trial at the RCSI Clinical Research Centre moves Ireland’s research capacity for developing better interventions for human diseases into a new space. All stages of clinical development of new drugs and devices, can now be carried out in Ireland, as well as manufacturing and distribution. This new clinical trial capacity at RCSI in Ireland will enable biotechnology companies and major pharmaceutical manufacturers to carry out the critical steps of moving potential products into human trials in Ireland.” Professor McConkey concluded.

Dr Odile Leroy, Executive Director of EVI said: “It is a great pleasure and honour to see our long-lasting collaboration with RCSI and University of Oxford adding a major piece to the complex scientific puzzle of designing the second generation of malaria vaccine. This would not have been possible without the support of Irish Aid.”

The two new malaria vaccines (ChAd63 CS and MVA CS) were developed at University of Oxford and use the gene for malarial circumsporozoite protein inserted into a weakened adenovirus.


Malaria vaccine trial
Pictured at the RCSI Education and Research Centre, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin are (L-R), Prof. Samuel McConkey, Principal Investigator and Head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine, RCSI, Ann Collins, Research Nurse, RCSI, Liz Fogarty, Research Nurse, RCSI, Kerrie Hennigan, Research Assistant, RCSI and Dr. Eoghan de Barra, Research fellow, RCSI.
RCSI is a not-for-profit health sciences institute which focuses on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree-awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.

EVI is a leading European non-profit Product Development Partnership that has the principal objective to develop effective, accessible, and affordable vaccines against malaria and other diseases of poverty. Since its inception in 1998 it has contributed to the development of 32 malaria vaccine candidate formulations with 16 vaccine candidates being advanced into phase I clinical trials, three of which have been transitioned for further clinical development in sub-Saharan Africa. EVI leads global efforts in the development of vaccines against diseases of poverty, while also acting as coordinator of several initiatives/consortia to create harmonisation between all global stakeholders in vaccine research. EV is co-founder of the Malaria Vaccine Funders Group and is hosted by Heidelberg University in Germany. EVI is currently funded by Irish Aid, the European Commission, EDCTP, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Topical health issues to be explored at new RCSI MiniMed lecture series

Mental health, breast cancer, pregnancy screening, antibiotics and anxiety lectures to form part of the series

RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) today announced the programme for its RCSI Open Lecture Series for 2014/2015. The series of health lectures is open free of charge to the public and will be held on the last Wednesday of every month from October 2014 to March 2015 (excluding December 2014).

The first lectures in the series on 29th October will explore the important topic of mental health. Ms. Helen Coughlan from the RCSI Department of Psychiatry will give a guide to nurturing mental health and also discuss how to recognise and respond to signs of mental health problems. The second topic of the evening will deal with leg ulcers and will discuss the cause, the care and prevention.

In November, leading breast cancer specialist Professor Arnold Hill will give a talk on breast cancer and give an update on the latest research and what is now known of this disease. The second lecture of the night on screening in pregnancy will be given Professor Fergal Malone, a leading Obstetrics & Gynaecology consultant.
In 2015, lectures will include a feature evening dedicated to exploring the history of anti-anxiety medicines from the phenomenon of ‘Mothers Little Helper’ in the 1960’s to the Irish context today. This event will also feature a panel discussion on anti-anxiety medication use in Ireland. Additional topics to be explored include concussion, expedition medicine and antibiotic resistance

Dr Maria Morgan, Director of the RCSI MiniMed Series said ‘This year’s RCSI MiniMed lecture series explores health related topics that are very relevant in Irish society today.  I would encourage anybody who is interested in learning more about topical health issues to register to attend the RCSI MiniMed Lecture Series. In an age of increased patient participation and greater health awareness, these free public talks affords people the opportunity to learn more about health related issues from leading experts. Another unique feature of these talks is that they are easy to understand and are presented to attendees in layman’s terms’.

The RCSI MiniMed Open Lecture Series is free of charge to the public; however registration is essential in order to guarantee a place.  Previous lecture series have attracted widespread public interest with demand for places far outstripping availability. Register online at www.rcsi.ie/minimed. You can also follow the topics and join the conversation on the night, on Twitter using the #RCSIMiniMed hashtag.

What is the 2014/2015 RCSI MiniMed Lecture Series:
Find out more with this short video featuring Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO / Registrar, RCSI

Wednesday 29th  October 2014
‘Mental Health Matters: a guide to nurturing your mental health and to recognising and responding to signs of mental health problems ‘ (19.00-20.00)
Helen Coughlan, Clinical Research Fellow, RCSI Department of Psychiatry

‘Leg Ulcers – More Than Just Skin Deep’ (20.00-21.00)
Professor Zena Moore, Head of RCSI School of Nursing & Midwifery; & Julie Jordan O’Brien, Tissue Viability Nurse, Beaumont Hospital

Wednesday 26th  November 2014
‘Breast Cancer – What do we know now?’ (19.00-20.00)
Professor Arnold Hill, Head of School of Medicine and Professor of Surgery, RCSI

‘Screening in Pregnancy – Is my baby normal?’ (20.00-21.00)
Professor Fergal Malone, Professor and Chairman of the RCSI Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Wednesday 28th January 2015
‘Management of Concussion’ (19.00-20.00)
Professor Michael G. Molloy, Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (FSEM), RCPI & RCSI

‘Emergency Care in Remote Areas – Wilderness Medicine on Kilimanjaro’ (20.00-21.00)
Dr Padraig Sheeran, Dean of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (FSEM), RCPI & RCSI

Wednesday 25th  February 2015
‘Mammy’s little helper – the Irish relationship with anxiety medication’ (19.00-20.00)
Dr Helena Kelly, Senior  Lecturer in the RCSI School of Pharmacy; and Professor Paul Gallagher, Head of the RCSI School of Pharmacy

‘Anti-anxiety medication use in Ireland today – problem cause or cure?’ – A panel debate (20.00-21.00)

Wednesday 25th  March 2015
‘Have the superbugs won; antibiotic resistance’ (19.00-20.00)
Dr Fidelma Fitzpatrick, RCSI Senior Lecturer in Clinical Microbiology & Consultant Microbiologist, Beaumont Hospital

‘Insights into Antibiotic Use from a General Practitioner’ (20.00-21.00)
Dr Nuala O’Connor, ICGP Lead for Healthcare-associated Infection & Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention


RCSI welcomes SFI funding to support early career researchers

On July 7th, Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Seán Sherlock, T.D. announced €23 million in new funding to help support 40 of Ireland’s most promising young research talent to become fully independent researchers. The funding is being awarded through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) and Career Development Award (CDA) Programmes.

Four RCSI researchers were among those to be awarded funding. Two senior post-doctoral researchers from RCSI were recipients of the Starting Investigator Grants: Dr Eva Jimenez Mateos and Dr Tobias Engel. Both work in the epilepsy research laboratory in the Physiology Department at the RCSI and are mentored by Professor David Henshall. Both projects focus on molecules called microRNAs which work to control of protein levels in cells.

Career Development Awards were announced for two RCSI Senior Lecturers: Dr Annette Byrne, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, for a project on metastatic colorectal cancer; and Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics (MCT), for research into genetic biomarkers for epilepsy.

Professor Ray Stallings, RCSI Director of Research said: “RCSI welcomes the announcement to provide major funding to four RCSI research projects through the Science Foundation Ireland Programmes. This is a fantastic achievement and underlines the cutting-edge and competitive research work performed at RCSI. The funding will enable the SIRG awardees to develop new research interests and establish themselves as independent researchers, while CDA awardees will have the opportunity to further develop and strengthen their independent research programmes. These awards reflect the immense hard-work and outstanding research and translational achievements being carried out by the awardees.”

A further 12 projects were also deemed scientifically excellent by the International Review Panel and are on a reserve list to be funded by SFI, if budgets permit later in the year. RCSI researchers on the reserve list were Drs Steven Kerrigan, Markus Rehm and Stephen Madden.

SFI’s Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG) provides support for excellent postdoctoral researchers who wish to take steps towards a fully independent research career, while the Career Development Award (CDA) aims to support early and mid-career researchers who already hold a salaried, independent research post and who are looking to expand their research activities. Both programmes aim to support the development of young researchers with the potential to become excellent, fully independent research leaders in their chosen fields.

Minister for Research and Innovation, Mr Seán Sherlock TD said: “Funding for researchers at the outset of their careers is an important element of the Government’s strategy for job creation in research and innovation under our Action Plan for Jobs. SFI’s funding schemes for early career researchers help ensure that excellent research with the potential for real economic and societal impact is properly supported in Ireland. Investment like this is important for Ireland’s developing international reputation for excellent research with impact. The 40 research projects being awarded by SFI today demonstrate the enormous talent and potential that exists among Ireland’s young researchers.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Both of the programmes under which funding is being announced today will help promising young researchers to create and develop impactful careers here in Ireland and in turn enable the pursuit of scientific research that has potential economic and societal impact. These programmes are also an important factor in ensuring that Ireland can succeed in persuading top young scientific talent from abroad to base their research efforts here in Ireland.”

Founded in 1784, RCSI’s mission is to develop healthcare leaders who make a difference worldwide. RCSI is a not-for-profit health sciences organisation which focuses on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.

Pictured at the announcement are (l-r) Professor David Henshall, Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Professor Mark Ferguson (Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government) Dr Eva Jimenez Mateos and Dr Tobias Engel
Pictured at the announcement are (l-r) Professor David Henshall, Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Professor Mark Ferguson (Director General of SFI and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Irish Government) Dr Eva Jimenez Mateos and Dr Tobias Engel

List of RCSI Funded Projects

SIRG Awards
SFI Research Scientist                                                                                    Total Award

Tobias Engel, RCSI
Novel treatments and diagnostics for epilepsy via the ATP-gated P2X7 receptor
Eva Jimenez-Mateos, RCSI
microRNA in the pathogenesis and prognosis of neonatal brain injury
2013 CDA Approved Awards

Annette Byrne, RCSI
ColoForetell: A Xenopatient Discovery Platform for the integrated Systems based Identification of Predictive Biomarkers for Targeted Therapies in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Gianpiero Cavalleri, RCSI
Genetic biomarkers for epilepsy predisposition and treatment

Reserve List CDA

Steven Kerrigan, RCSI
Endothelial dysfunction in severe blood stream infection

Markus Rehm RCSI
Improving melanoma treatment and prognosis by deciphering and exploiting an autophagy-dependent pathway towards apoptotic cell death

Reserve List SIRG

Stephen Madden, RCSI
The Molecular Characterisation of Ovarian Cancer

Novel training approach to management of ruptured aneurysms introduced to Ireland

A new approach to the management of ruptured aneurysms from presentation in the emergency department through to keyhole surgery and aftercare is being implemented by a team at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and Beaumont Hospital. The first team training day to enable this minimally invasive approach in a hospital setting in Ireland took place at Beaumont Hospital, led by Mr Peter Naughton and Mr Daragh Moneley, Consultant Vascular Surgeons, RCSI.

Previously, ruptured aortic aneurysms (a swelling of the artery) were treated by open surgery. In recent years, minimally invasive ‘keyhole’ endovascular techniques have been developed which can avoid open surgery in certain cases. This incurs a number of changes in the management of the patients at the time of arrival in the emergency department.

The multidisciplinary team training which has taken place at RCSI and Beaumont Hospital involved doctors in the emergency department, interventional radiologists, vascular lab, ward and theatre nurses to enable implementation of this new minimally-invasive approach to the potentially life-threatening condition. The training involved virtual reality simulation on a symbionix simulator and bench models to practise open repair.

Mr Peter Naughton, Consultant General / Vascular Surgeon, Clinical Lecturer, RCSI said: ‘Multi-disciplinary team-training with clear treatment protocols for ruptured aneurysms may facilitate improved performance and treatment of patients presenting with this catastrophic condition. It is important that surgical trainees and theatre staff are appropriately trained to expediently and efficiently perform both open and endovascular repair of patients with ruptured aneurysms. Access to minimally invasive treatment in suitable candidates will contribute to improved patient care by avoiding increased recovery times and risks associated with open surgery.’

RCSI is a not-for-profit health sciences institute which focuses on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.

250 doctors celebrate making the cut at College of Surgeons

Graduates (from left) Ciara Nolan from Mount Merrion, Elaine Houlihan from Kildare, Michael Flanagan from Sandymount, Nasayem Alquraini and Elias Chamely from Trinidad.
Graduates (from left) Ciara Nolan from Mount Merrion, Elaine Houlihan from Kildare, Michael Flanagan from Sandymount, Nasayem Alquraini and Elias Chamely from Trinidad.

SCALING the lofty heights of medicine is a given for the 250 future doctors who donned caps and gowns to graduate from the Royal College of Surgeons – but for one, the aim is even higher.

Neil Naik (24) from Toronto, Canada, hopes to be the doctor on board Elon Musk’s planned flight to Mars in 2030 – and is not bothered by the fact that it is likely to be a one-way ticket.

“Medicine was not my first choice – space was,” revealed Neil, who has been studying at the RCSI for the last four years.

However, shooting past the necessary height restrictions of 5ft 11ins and not having perfect vision meant a career as an astronaut was off-limits.

But he never abandoned his childhood career aspirations and followed his older sister, Sapna, into medicine because he “didn’t want to sit behind a desk”.

He now hopes to spend 16 years building up his skills as a doctor in rural Newfoundland to make him the perfect candidate for Musk to select as a medic for the SpaceX mission.

Meanwhile, former actuary Mary Coughlan from Blanchardstown, Dublin, had graduated from RCSI with flying colours despite having a very junior – sometimes unruly – study companion.

Her young son Darragh was born just five months ago in her final year of medicine. “It was a juggling act and it was pretty difficult to study when I was pregnant,” Mary said.

She is now working in the medical oncology unit in Beaumont hospital and loves it.

“It’s very satisfying,” she said. “I was earning a six-figure sum as an actuary but I wanted a different challenge and you just make it work.”


Written by Nicola Anderson for the Irish Independent. View the original article here.

RCSI Hosts Inaugural National Surgical Skills Competition

RCSI is hosting the first National Surgical Skills Competition grand final today in the National Surgical Training Centre to give aspiring surgeons from Irish medical schools the opportunity to develop and showcase their surgical skills. The competition will involve the students competing in a range of surgical challenges, from suturing and knot-tying to undertaking key-hole surgery skills tests.

Regional heats have been taking place over the past three months across the six medical schools in Ireland – RCSI, University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and NUI Galway and 12 students have been chosen to go through to the final today.

Explaining the competition, Mr Eunan Friel, Managing Director, Department of Surgical Affairs, RCSI said: ‘As RCSI is the body responsible for setting the standards for surgical practice, training and examinations in Ireland, we strive to achieve the best outcomes for patients. The medical students who are competing here today are our future surgeons and we are delighted to give them the opportunity to experience relevant skills-based challenges at this early point in their careers.’

‘The RCSI National Surgical Skills Competition is a great opportunity for medical students to showcase their surgical skills and gain valuable surgical experience. The competition provides valuable practical experience to support the early skill development of the aspiring surgeons of tomorrow. The competition has been a great success and it is something we will definitely include on the annual surgical calendar.’