Medical student wins top research prize in field of doctors

28 March 2018
Navneet Singh receives his award with Mr Amul Sibal (consultant cardiothoracic surgeon from Auckland City Hospital) and Professor David McGiffin (head of cardiothoracic surgery at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne).
Navneet Singh receives his award with Mr Amul Sibal (consultant cardiothoracic surgeon from Auckland City Hospital) and Professor David McGiffin (head of cardiothoracic surgery at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne).

A 5th Year medical student has taken first place at a research seminar competition against established doctors and surgical registrars.

Navneet Singh, who is studying medicine at the University of Auckland and is attached to Waikato Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Department, won the Best Registrar Prize at the New Zealand National Cardiac Surgery Meeting in Rotorua for his presentation into his research on EuroSCORE II, a stratification tool used to assess the operative risk level for patients being considered for cardiac surgery. It is the first time an undergraduate has won the prize in over 20 years of the conference’s existence.

His seven minute presentation was done on the main stage without any notes or cue cards in front of about 100 people including experienced cardiac surgeons and his academic supervisors. In it he detailed how the EuroSCORE II is made up of predominately overseas patients with different health characteristics than New Zealanders, and so using the model could cause difficulties in our local population as it would not give an accurate prediction of what risks cardiac surgical procedures could pose.

But despite the pressure, he was not nervous.

“I didn’t actually feel nervous! This is partly because of my innate enjoyment of public speaking but also due to my thorough preparation in the lead up to the presentation.”

“It was an absolute honour to be able to present my research at a national-level conference in my field of interest at this early stage of my career. My gratitude goes to my research supervisors for their support.”

Navneet was the first speaker in a field of 12 other research presentations from predominantly surgical registrars including trainee cardiothoracic surgeons from across Australasia. The competition was judged by an international panel, including world-renowned cardiac surgeons from Australia and the USA.

He says winning was an “absolute joy”.

“There were many other superb talks given, and so winning was one of the highlight moments in my professional career so far. I am more driven than ever to continue to work hard and pursue my passion of cardiothoracic surgery.”

The 22-year-old decided to study medicine after he volunteered at a private hospital near his Papakura home. He visited an elderly wheel-chair bound man weekly and kept him company.

“Over time we developed a great friendship. He shared with me his battles with ill health during his lifetime, and I learned more and more about the incredible impact that healthcare and medicine has on individuals.”

“I wanted to be able to do more to help people like him beyond the capacities of a volunteer role, and realised that a career in medicine would allow me to do just that.”

Now Navneet plans to use the $1500 prize money towards travel to the Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting being held in Queensland this November.

As he continues towards his goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon, Navneet has some good advice for others considering a career in medicine.

“Develop a mindset of taking initiative in life. It is important to put yourself out there and actively pursue your interests as early in your career opportunities do not come to you, you need to seek them out.”

“By having this model of thinking and approach to life from a young age, you can get involved in activities like I did such as volunteering in order to attain a better understanding of whether medicine is right for you.”

Navneet is supervised by Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon David McCormack.

“Navneet has proven to be a dedicated, motivated and capable academic and clinician, I am thrilled that he has won this award and I know he has a great future in medicine in front of him,” he says.

As well as David, Navneet is supervised by Damian Gimpel (registrar), and Honorary Associate Professor Adam El Gamel (cardiothoracic surgeons) at Waikato Hospital.


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