After successfully sitting both parts of the FRCS(Urol) examination in 2021 and still basking in the knowledge that I would never have to sit another examination again, it’s fair to say there was a certain amount of consternation when I received an unsolicited email from the Joint Committee on Intercollegiate Examinations (JCIE) in January of this year. Prior to this, JCIE emails were synonymous with sweaty palms and tachycardia due to pending examination results.
However, much to my surprise the email explained that I was the highest scoring candidate for the July 2021 diet of section 1 of the FRCS urology exam. The reward was twofold; a nomination to represent the BAUS Section of Trainees (BSoT) in the Residents’ Bowl at the American Urology Association (AUA) Annual Conference in New Orleans and a £750 BSoT Travelling Bursary combined with a $500 AUA stipend to help cover travel and accommodation costs.
The Residents’ Bowl runs each year at the AUA Annual Conference and pits trainees / residents against each other in a University Challenge style quiz, testing residents’ knowledge on the different urological subspecialties, history of urology and general knowledge. There were eight teams known as ‘sections’ based on geographical location within the states. Each team consisted of four American / domestic residents and one international candidate. I was lucky enough to join the New York section as their international candidate (photo above). We sailed through the first round against North-Eastern and after swaggering on to the podium for the semi-finals with our new-found confidence we were promptly thrashed by the formidable and eventual competition winning South-Eastern section. Winners received the mutual respect of their fellow urology eggheads, a cash prize and a trophy. All participants received a rather fetching t-shirt. The competition was great fun and provided an excellent opportunity for networking and interesting discussion with peers across the pond.
The AUA conference was held in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the sixth biggest convention centre in the US. With 1.1 million square feet of exhibition space, the conference was vast and the scientific programme was first-rate. I was easily able to fill four days from start to finish with informative presentations and interactive sessions. Fellow attendees were warm and friendly and I even managed to find a few enthusiasts for a chat about the beautiful game… ‘Soccer’!
New Orleans was a fantastic place to explore and due to the most lenient drinking rules in the US, 33°C heatwave and the abundance of jazz on every street corner, it made for a very lively and memorable trip. Particular highlights include watching a show in one the oldest jazz venues, Preservation Hall, meandering through the streets of the French Quarter and sampling the local delicacies (Beignets, Po-Boy and Seafood Gumbo).
I would recommend any interested urologist to attend the AUA Annual Conference and I am very grateful to BSoT / AUA for the opportunity provided.