Use of 'surgeon' in professional titles in Australia

Patient safety must be enhanced by modifying current legal arrangements so as to:

  • Restrict use of ‘surgeon’ as a title by itself and in combination with other ‘qualifier’ or ‘descriptor’ words to medical practitioners who have completed Australian Medical Council (AMC) accredited specialist training in the medical specialty of ‘Surgery’. For clarity this does not refer to any training in surgery which may take place in a primary medical education program.

Exceptions to this rule may be allowed for those in the following categories, in combination with the ‘qualifier’ or ‘descriptor’ words as described:

  1. Those who have completed AMC accredited specialist training in ‘Obstetrics and gynaecology’ or ‘Ophthalmology’ in combination with relevant ‘qualifier’ or ‘descriptor’ words which accurately describe their scope of practice – e.g. ‘Ophthalmic surgeon’, 
  2. General Practitioners in areas of need, where other medical specialists are less accessible, and when they have attained their qualifications via AMC accredited courses which include a surgical component in combination with the words ‘GP’ or ‘General Practitioner’ – i.e  ‘GP Surgeon’.

Additional exceptions may be made for:

  • Professions for which there is little chance that the public may be misled or deceived into believing that a person in that profession provides human healthcare services – such as ‘tree surgery’ or ‘veterinary surgery’.
  • Non-medical health specialties approved by the Health Council as of January 2021 whose titles include the word ‘surgeon’, as long as the full specialist title is used.