TOTY 2015 – Niall Eames (Northern Ireland)

TOTY Niall Eames

Question 1: Excellent Orthopaedic trainers often go out of their way to ensure their trainees have a variety of learning opportunities during their job. How does this consultant go above and beyond what is expected from an Orthopaedic trainer?

This trainer goes above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis. The following are but a few examples:

  1. (1)  FRCS examiner – trainees attend his home on a regular basis for mock viva and clinicals during the 12months prior to the exam. He co-ordinates other consultants to attend so that all specialties are covered.

  2. (2)  Research – In 2012 he founded a local research group that has produced prize-winning papers and projects including Britspine 2014

  3. (3)  Fellowship – In 2013 he personally applied for and set up a Spinal Fellowship within the unit despite service crisis.

  4. (4)  Education – He developed a local teaching curriculum for spine in response to the critical CBD’s and CCT requirements. He has paid actors to attend teaching to simulate clinical scenarios for assessment.

  5. (5)  Journal Club – He founded and hosts a monthly spinal journal club and invites speakers from Europe to attend and lecture.

  6. (6)  Pastoral care – He takes responsibility for the pastoral care of the trainees. He has helped many in difficulty both at work and at home. We feel that he is someone to talk to, not just a teacher or a role model…a friend.

Question 2: Trainees often say that working for outstanding and inspirational trainers makes them enthusiastic, motivated and confident about whatever sub-specialty that trainer practices in. How does this trainer support and enthuse his trainees in learning and developing during their post?

This is the THIRD year in a row he has been unanimously nominated for TOTY. Having attended Carden Park last year as a finalist it goes without saying that the trainees in this deanery are passionate about his recognition.

Despite service pressures, he trains and inspires. As spinal surgeon to the National Rugby team he employs the sports psychology used for elite athletes to motivate and influence his trainees. His goal is trainee progression and all who work for him aspire to be like him in all aspects of life. His calm and effortless nature provides an excellent learning environment that puts the trainee at ease. Every case is a training case and he is proactive throughout. He is critical when necessary but never humiliates. He is held in such high regard amongst his peers… his good opinion is invaluable.

In busy clinics training remains a priority. Every patient is discussed and any case he feels of benefit to the trainee (with his FRCS hat on) will be highlighted and presented in a case based manner. This allows for work-based assessments to be completed in real time.

One fifth of trainees in this deanery wish to become spinal surgeons…enough said.

Question 3: Regional training programmes often have several good trainers within their rotation, however, the contribution of the rare “great”, standout, trainer is often significant. What would your rotation miss the most if this trainer were to retire or move to another unit?

He is our regional training treasure and our rotation would not wish to consider losing him.

What more can be said that has not already been said in previous nominations. He is above and beyond in every aspect of training. The guidance and reassurance offered in the 12 months pre- exam are invaluable. He offers advice about the importance of balancing life/family/work, which is so important during the dark exam months. His positivity and enthusiasm are inspirational. There is nobody more deserving of this award.

Not only has he provided this rotation with an award winning research group, he has flown guest speakers from mainland Europe to give lectures on ‘hot topics’ in spinal surgery relevant for the exam. He is largely responsible for the preparation this rotation receives for the FRCS and the 100% pass rate we enjoy is undoubtedly due to him.

Last but by no means least; he has supported a few of our trainees that have experienced personal difficulties over the last year. Inviting them into his home, he has provided them with encouragement, hope and guidance. What would this rotation miss the most? Our teacher, our role model…our friend.

Nomination written by Ciara Stevenson, Northern Ireland Linkman