Coffee Break Conversations with Surgical Supervisors

This new series of podcasts has been developed to support Surgical Supervisors and Trainers with their important role of educating and training new surgeons. Each episode of the podcast will include conversations with RACS experienced surgical supervisors and medical educators sharing tips and strategies to address common and curly challenges of surgical supervision.


Episode 1: What makes a great surgical supervisor? 

RACS Medical Educator Catherine Hunt talks with Ms Debbie Paltridge, RACS Head of Education Services (Principal Educator) at RACS and Associate Professor Sarah Aitken, Vascular Surgeon, Head of the Specialty of Surgery at University of Sydney, Deputy Chair of RACS Vascular Training Board and recipient of RACS NSW Supervisor of the year for 2022.




Episode 2: Health Advocacy - Part 1

This episode on Health Advocacy is in 2 parts.

Part 1 focuses on Health Advocacy of the Surgeon – that is how surgeons advocate for the benefit of the recipients of healthcare. How supervisors can teach and assess competence in Health Advocacy. 

The guest for part 1 is Dr Neill Boustred, an Australian-based Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon. He completed his post-graduate training in South Africa and Sydney and is a Fellow of the South African and Australian Colleges of Surgery. He is also a member of the Australian and American Societies of Otolaryngologists.




Episode 2 Part 2: Health Advocacy for Surgeons

In part 2 of Health Advocacy for the Surgeon – the focus is on assessing and teaching trainees and SIMGs to advocate for the wellbeing of the surgical workforce.

Catherine Hunt discusses promoting and supporting the health and wellbeing of Surgeons, Trainees and SIMGs with RACS Council Member, Ruth Bollard, advocate for the health and wellbeing of Surgeons.




Episode 3: Judgement and clinical decision making with Dr Rebecca Garland


Rebecca is an Otolaryngologist based in Wellington New Zealand. She is experienced in surgical education and supervision. She was a supervisor of training for nine years and the Chair of Otolaryngology for New Zealand for 4 years. During this time she became involved in curriculum writing and development. The skills, experience and interest in teaching and assessment prepared Rebecca well to take on the role as Chair of the RACS Professional Skills Curriculum Working Party. During this work she developed a particular interest in today’s topic of Judgement of clinical decision-making.

In this podcast Rebecca provided her insights in response to the following questions:


  • What is competence in the area of judgment and clinical decision making?
  • What do patients and the community expect from surgeons in regard to judgment and decision making?
  • Can critical thinking frameworks be helpful?
  • When might it be challenging to apply the principles of good judgement and clinical decision making?
  • How to assess whether a trainee or SIMG is competent in judgement and decision making?
  • How to support trainees and SIMGs develop their skills in this area especially if they are struggling?



Handling trainee feedback and challenging conversations

RACS Post Op Podcast: Academy of Surgical Educators Recommended

Guest: Associate Professor Andrew Davidson

Topic: Having difficult conversations

Most surgical Trainees respond well to feedback on their performance - they reflect on the advice that's given and make the necessary changes to improve. But, some Trainees are less responsive and conversations with them can be quite challenging. That's according to neurosurgeon, Dr Andrew Davidson, Associate Professor at Macquarie University. Dr Davidson is an educator and trainer with RACS's Foundation Skills for Surgical Educators Course. He's a key educator with the new Advanced Feedback in Surgical Course and the soon-to-be-revised Surgical Teachers Course. In this episode, Dr Davidson describes the process with handling challenging conversations.


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Strategies to build resilience, reduce stress and maintain standards of performance

RACS Post Op Podcasts: Academy of Surgical Educators Recommended

Guest: Professor Richard Turner

Topic: Resilience - is it a dirty word?

Stress can sneak up on anyone over time, and if left unchecked can affect the quality of behaviour and performance. But there are strategies to help build resilience – not only at the individual level, but for teams and organisations as well. General surgeon Dr Richard Turner, who is Director of Hobart Clinical School and Professor of Surgery at University of Tasmania School of Medicine, explains the steps you can take to build resilience.


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