An enthusiast organizes world congress for surgeons in Gothenburg – for the third time

This article is translated from Vårdskiftet, which is published by region Västra Götaland. Translation by Juuso Kuikka.

Orthopaedic surgeon Margareta Berg thought for thirty years about deficiencies in the manual training of surgeons. Ten years ago she took the initiative to organize the first World Congress for Surgical Training in 2011 and it became a success. The congress took place again 2013. Next year she organizes the congress for the third time, with participants from all over the world, once again in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Surgicon Project is a non-profit scientific global network that emphasize the need for science-based training methods for surgeons. The network brings together surgeons interested in the topic. 

The project was founded by Margareta Berg who has spent an incalculable amount of hours and even money on the project. After ten years she still continues to volunteer for the project, working half-time organizing training courses at the new Surgical Anatomical Training Centre which is a joint venture between Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the University of Gothenburg.

Scientific methods

Margareta wanted to improve the practical training for aspiring surgeons, thinking that surgery is a form of medical treatment, and therefore the training of surgeons should be based on scientifically validated training methods.

“ I tend to introduce my discourse with the phrase: Anyone who’s never going to need a surgical procedure can stop listening now. Anyone can end up on the operating table as soon as tomorrow”, says Margareta Berg.

Ten years ago Margareta established a group of eminent surgeons to build a board for the project, where among others the president of American College of Surgeons was a member. The decision was taken to organize a congress and Margareta made this happen all by herself, without the help of any congress bureau. She wanted to keep highest standards on both the contents and organization. In September of 2011, 200 participants from 30 countries over 6 continents were assembled at Svenska Mässan in Gothenburg, where 32 surgeons, among the most eminent ones in the world, lectured.

“ The congress became a success and was dubbed as “Davos for surgeons” Margareta recounts.

Grant denied

Two years later the congress was organized a second time. This time 45 eminent surgeons were engaged as speakers.

“ After the congress in 2013 I was invited to cooperate with WHO in Geneva, but I got my grant application rejected and thus the project came at a hold for a while”, Margareta explains.

But now it’s time for the third congress. This time Margareta has about ten enthusiastic volunteers helping her. The congress will be organized 5th -7th May 2021 – obviously in Gothenburg even this time. Internationally known surgeons have already agreed to lecture. The congresses place Gothenburg and Western Sweden on the map and strengthen Sweden’s position in the field of “surgical training”.

“ If we want to, there’s the possibility of gearing up on this and building a unique research centre based on courses at KAT and the congress”, Margareta says.

Driver’s licenses for surgeons

“The congress deals with various topics such as for example quality and safety, simulation, pedagogical models and the role of the industry. Many have tried different ways to structure surgical training and they have some results to show. The long term goal is to create a kind of internationally valid Driver’s license for surgeons”, Margareta explains.

Why Gothenburg?

“ My thought was to do something big for my home city. Besides, Gothenburg is a wonderful congress city that has more to offer than many other big congress cities”, says Margareta Berg.