Basic practical skills in obstetrics and gynaecology

Authors: Sumeet Tuteja 

Publication date:  08 Jul 2009

What is it?

The basic practical skills in obstetrics and gynaecology course is run by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and at other approved centres to introduce trainees to safe surgical techniques and obstetric clinical skills in a structured workshop environment. The course is intended particularly for year 1 and year 2 specialty trainees and is a mandatory requirement before moving on to year 3; however, foundation doctors are also allowed to take this course.

What is the course structure?

The course runs over three days and is held at the royal college and also at various regional centres approved by the college. The course is standardised to ensure that common objectives, content structure, and assessment methods are followed. The course consists of three modules that cover basic surgical skills and basic skills in obstetrics and gynaecology. Trainees get the opportunity to practise the skills under direct supervision.

I did my course at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds. The course is run three times a year at this centre. Trainees sit round a working table and a basic practical skills DVD is played. After each session trainees carry out the procedure seen on the video with input from the faculty. Faculty members included consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology and senior registrars from the region.

Day 1 of the course covers general surgical skills including gowning and gloving, handling of instruments, knot tying, suturing, haemostasis, and tissue handling and abdominal closure. Day 2 covers basic obstetric skills including ventouse delivery, forceps delivery, episiotomy repair, appropriate management of shoulder dystocia, postpartum haemorrhage, manual removal of placenta, and surgical documentation. I found day 3 particularly exciting: it included an introduction to endoscopic surgeries and training in basic endoscopic skills with exercises in box trainersfor example, cutting simple figures made on gloves, taking sugar cubes out of a match box, stacking cubes on top of each other, and unwrapping a sweet while looking at the monitors. All these exercises help in improving hand-eye coordination. Day 3 also includes training in skills of gynaecological and hysterscopic examination, intrauterine device insertion, and uterine evacuation.

The course does not have an examination, but at the end of each day trainees are required to get the performance assessment forms signed with feedback from the instructors.

What are the benefits of the course?

I found the course useful and enjoyable, and the course faculty was friendly and supportive. The course gives trainees a firm foundation for a career in obstetrics and gynaecology. The course is good hands-on experience for participants, improves your surgical skills and confidence levels, and prepares you for registrar grade. Places on the course are strictly limited to 18, thus allowing excellent interaction between trainees and trainers and a good chance to practise and improve your skills.

Taking the course before entering specialty training shows your commitment to the specialty and allows you to demonstrate your skills at interview, which I believe is useful for getting on to the training programme.

How to prepare for the course?

A few days before the course you receive a participant’s manual approved by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Participants should read the manual before going on the course. I also found it useful to practise some procedural skills such as knot tying.

What is the cost?

The cost of the course in London is £700; at other centres the cost varies from £450 to £700. This cost could be included in your training package if you are already in the training programme. It is advisable to contact your deanery about the cost and any possible concessions.

Where can I do the course?

A list of regional centres with dates and contact details can be found on the royal college website. It is advisable to do the course at your regional centre as it gives you a good chance of securing a place.

Competing interests: None declared.

Sumeet Tuteja year 1 specialty trainee in obstetrics and gynaecology Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, Yorkshire and the Humber Deanery


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