The inaugural Skills Assessment and Demonstration Weekend (SDAW) took place on Saturday and Sunday August 11 and 12.

It was a very busy weekend for all involved, and the culmination of 4-months work and 1 year of planning moving the college from the old practical skills weekend to the new format.

One of the biggest tasks was securing a specialist to instruct the initial part of each skill alongside a fellow of the college, to give extra insight and deeper learning to the registrars for that area. 10 specialists and 5 senior nurses and technicians supported 14 fellows to deliver the intense training. The material was originally created by the subgroup from best-practice textbooks and then tweaked by those delivering the skills.

Overall the weekend was a huge success.

33 registrars rotated through 8 stations per day, each 45 minutes in duration giving time for the specialist or fellow to demonstrate the skill and then the registrars to practice in pairs. Most were able to get the new skills checklists signed off as well.

The 16 stations encompassed five orthopaedic joints, four eye and ear skills, two plastics procedures, two abdominal /pelvic examinations, two upper limb splinting stations and two medical investigations.

Feedback from registrars was positive, most felt that the skills stations were pitched at the right level, teaching them new skills that they weren’t previously confident in. For those with a specific interest or training (for example orthopaedics) it consolidated information that they already knew, and gave them unique access to a specialist to push themselves further.

The specialists gave focused feedback as well, and several the younger consultants really enjoyed having the opportunity to teach the registrars and weaving into their examination technique the pearls for referring to their service at the hospital.

With a new weekend like this, especially one with so many aspects (skills checklists, increased specialist involvement, increased fellow involvement, new models, enlarged group of registrars) there were always going to be a few small issues, but the college staff and organising group could not have handled things more professionally.

All those involved can be immensely proud of the first of many skills weekend, and we look forward to 2019.

Dr Matt Wright

Convener, SDAW 2018.