Australia and New Zealand Surgical Skills Education and Training (ASSET)


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On this page:

Course overview
Schedule and fees

Course overview


The Australian and New Zealand Surgical Skills Education and Training (ASSET) course provides an educational package of agreed generic surgical skills required by surgical Trainees in the Australian and New Zealand context. ASSET is a compulsory component of surgical training for all specialties except neurosurgery. The emphasis of this course is on small group teaching, intensive hands-on practice of basic skills, individual tuition, personal feedback to participants and the performance of practical procedures.

Four modules are undertaken over the two day course:

  • Suturing and dissection
  • Tubular structures and electrosurgery
  • Endoscopic surgery
  • Musculoskeletal surgery

Experienced surgeons teach on the ASSET course and enable successful transfer of valuable knowledge and skills. Visits by industry representatives also provide for a valuable networking environment.

Target audience:

  • Trainees of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  • Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Trainees
  • Post-graduate year (PGY) 2+ registered medical graduates (e.g. MBBS) working and training across the range of surgical disciplines

Please note, it is not necessary to complete this course prior to applying to the Surgical Education and Training (SET) program.


By the completion of the ASSET course, participants should be able to:

  • Demonstrate integration of incision, tissue handling, instrument, suture and needle selection, and suturing/tying skills
  • Practice standard precautions
  • Safely practice electrosurgery
  • Demonstrate traumatic wound assessment and management skills
  • Demonstrate simple bone manipulation techniques
  • Display competence in a variety of basic practical skills relating to different endoscopic environments and the mechanics of instrumentation


The ASSET course is made up of fourteen modules:

  • Session 1 - Surgical Instruments
  • Session 2 - Knot Tying
  • Session 3 - Needles and Sutures
  • Session 4 - Standard Precautions: Barriers, Sterile Technique and Safety
  • Session 5 - Introduction to Incisions, Local Anesthetic and Excisions
  • Session 6 - Suturing - Principles and Practice
  • Session 7 - Electrosurgery
  • Session 8 - Advanced Dissection and Vessel Management
  • Session 9 - Handling and Suturing Tubular and Delicate Structures
  • Session 10 - Integrated Tissue Management Exercise: Laparotomy and Fascial Closure
  • Session 11 - Extensile Exposure (Incision & Dissection for Surgical Exposure) & Tissue Repair
  • Session 12 - Wound Management
  • Session 13 - Bone Handling and Plaster Skills
  • Session 14 - Principles and Practice of Rigid Endoscopy


For an outline of the two day course please view the ASSET course program (PDF 88KB)

Course materials

The ASSET course materials include access to 10 eLearning modules, a suture jig and disposable instruments, and a copy of the "Fundamental Skills for Surgery" textbook. Course participants receive access to these course materials prior to attending an ASSET course.

The "Fundamental Skills for Surgery" textbook can be ordered separately by downloading the order form (PDF 60 KB).

Surgical skills videos

Videos previously available only to ASSET course participants can now be accessed through the JDocs website on the following topics:

  • Standard precautions
  • Incisions
  • Knot tying
  • Suturing
  • Surgical instruments

Please note, these videos are included in the preparatory eLearning modules.

Equivalent courses

The College recognises that the ASSET course is equivalent to the Intercollegiate Basic Surgical Skills (BSS) course delivered by the following Colleges:

  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland


For information about course governance please visit ASSET Committee.
For information about course policies please visit Skills Training Policies.

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Schedule and fees

Course schedule

ASSET courses are held on various dates and locations across Australia and New Zealand: 

ASSET Course Schedule 2016 (PDF 198KB)

ASSET Course Schedule 2017 (PDF 94KB)


The 2017 course fee for ASSET is:

  • Australia - A$3,625.00 (incl. GST)*
  • New Zealand - NZ$4,130.00 (incl. GST)**

*In Australia, the ASSET course is an approved course under the tax system. This exempts surgical Trainees of the College from having 10% GST levied on their course fees. Australian fees for all other ASSET course participants are subject to 10% GST.

**Courses conducted in New Zealand will be invoiced in NZ dollars, regardless of residential country of applicant.


  • Cancellations of more than 10 weeks prior to course:  90% refund of course fee
  • Cancellations of less than 10 weeks prior to course:  50% refund of course fee
  • Cancellations of less than 6 weeks prior to course:  No refund of course fee

This policy applies should you elect to enrol in an alternative course within this timeframe. Please note, refunds take approximately ten business days to process.

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ASSET course is not a mandatory eligibility requirement for selection to the SET program. Priority for courses is given to surgical Trainees. To attend ASSET you must be a medical graduate. Places will only be available to doctors post-graduate year 2+. You must be eligible at the time of enrolment.

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Online enrolments for 2017 ASSET courses are open to all eligible applicants.


Course release phases:

Course period      2017 enrolments open (SET Trainees / General)

Feb-May 2017  17 Oct 2016 / 17 Nov 2016
Jun-Aug 2017   19 Jan 2017 / 19 Feb 2017
Sep-Oct 2017    5 April 2017 / 5 May 2017

*Dates subject to change without notice

Please note that you are encouraged to enrol at least six weeks prior to course commencement to ensure adequate preparation. Enrolments close four weeks prior to course commencement.

How to enrol:

  • Visit online enrolment 
  • Log in or create a College account 
  • Have your medical registration number on hand (your eligibility to attend is determined by your date of first registration)
  • Full payment is required at the time of enrolment
  • Trainees and existing waitlist applicants are given priority access, therefore some courses may already be fully booked
  • You may nominate up to six reserve places for courses that are already full (please note: six reserve places are across all programs)
  • Join the Skills Training  mailing list to be kept up to date with release dates

Eligibility and advanced access:

  • SET Trainees and International Medical Graduates required to complete skills courses are given priority access and will be contacted prior to release dates
  • All other eligible applicants are then able to enrol for skills courses

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ASSET Program Administrator
Skills Training Department
Division of Education Development and Assessment
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
College of Surgeons' Gardens
250-290 Spring Street
East Melbourne VIC 3002

Telephone: +61 3 9249 1227
Fax: +61 3 9249 1298

New Zealand 

Administration Officer
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
PO Box 7451
Wellington South Wellington 6242
New Zealand

Telephone: +64 4 385 8247
Fax: +64 4 385 8873

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