Wits Students' Surgical Society

The Wits Students’ Surgical Society is based at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

We are a group of Health Science students passionate about the world of surgery. As of 2021, the society consists of a committee and our loyal society members.

The committee is divided into four different portfolios namely skills, events, outreach and public relations. Our skills workshops are highly anticipated and range from basic suturing skills to more niche ones like anastomosis.

Our events are annual and include lecture series and a range of panel discussions. Our outreach is primarily involved with nearby schools, the Smile Foundation and Surgeons for Little Lives.

We work closely with the Wits department of surgery to ensure that we always deliver the best quality to our students. We are currently a sub-committee of the Wits MSC and member of SASSIT. We also enjoy collaborating with the other medical societies at Wits such as the physician and pathology society.

Activities we host:

Lecture Series (themed by each planning)

Throughout the year we have three lecture series which consist of either a single surgeon or a surgical team. Each lecture series is focussed on a particular topic and field of surgery. The purpose of these events is to provide our students with an insight into a variety of surgical fields which they would not usually get to experience until they start doing clinical visits or even after graduation.

Great Debate

Our great debate is an incredibly comedic and light-hearted event that many look forward to throughout the year. Being one of our most well-attended events, it consists of a selected panel of surgeons from different specialities.

The surgeons verbally battle it out for the top spot, voted for by our attending students, as the “best speciality”.

Women in Medicine Panel Discussion

This panel takes place during the South African Women’s Month in August and allows a power packed women-only speaking team to get real with the audience about what it truly means to be a woman in the field of medicine.

While the panel may consist of women only, the event draws many of our students, from all backgrounds and allows them to experience the inspiration such speakers have to offer. While many would agree that being a women in such a profession is no easy feat, the women that come to speak to us are awe inspiring and power filled.

Most panels comprise of speakers from a range of professions from the medical field, not only surgery, and many speakers have a number of qualifications and experience in multiple areas of theirs lives, from being a mother, sister or daughter, to running a hospital, writing award-winning novels and challenging social norms.

The event is an important dose of ‘I-can-do-this’ for all of our students and will continue to be so as women continue to excel as they do best.

Burnout Panel Discussion

Mental Health Week is when all the societies come together to organise different events to help raise mental health awareness as well as deal with key causative factors that contribute to mental illness in the health sciences faculty.

The panel event consists of a range of speakers, from diverse backgrounds, that have various qualifications and are at different stages in their medical careers. The purpose of the event is to allow students to submit questions in the days leading up to the event so that they can be answered by professionals who have the life experience to answer them. We use this event to break down feelings of isolation amongst our students and build hope and a strong sense of mental unity.

Suturing skills workshops

We run both basic and advanced suturing workshops, both of which teach students various methods of suturing. Our basic workshops focus on hand tying, discontinuous and continuous suturing, as well as gloving and gowning. Advanced suturing workshops build on the skills taught in the basic workshops, and include coagulation sutures, vertical and horizontal mattress sutures, as well as subcuticular sutures.

Specialised workshops we’ve run previously include bowel anastomosis, trauma, orthopaedics, intercostal drain insertion, and laparoscopy. We try to include as many specialised workshops into the year plan as time permits, as they are definitely favourites among our society members.

Outreach

We run multiple drives every year. COVID has shown us the need for so much and stretched us to do outreach in new ways as we can no longer rely on our students for donations.

The Easter Eggs drive, Blanket Drive and Women’s drive are the most note worthy. This year we are hosting a blood drive with SANBS too.

Our other outreach events include the school outreach which is a day we spend with highschool students introducing them to the world of medicine and encouraging them to follow their passions. There is also the Women’s Shelter visit which is a day of sharing with the women of MES. Last year also saw a tutoring program when all the schools were closed.

Kilimanjaro Climb for Smile

Every 2 years WSSS partners with Smile once more to gather a group of students to raise funds and summit Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately the summit hasn’t happened since 2018 as the 2020 climb was cancelled due to travel restrictions.