How do I become a surgeon?
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Stage 1 - Medical degree
Firstly, complete a medical degree at an Australian or Aotearoa New Zealand university.
Stage 2 - Pre-vocational training
After university, people who intend to apply to a medical specialty generally undertake one or more years of clinical work and training. This is often called 'pre-vocational' training.
To support junior doctors interested in surgical training, RACS has developed the JDocs Framework and ePortfolio. This provides a comprehensive online curriculum, and a basis for junior doctors interested in a career in surgery or other procedural specialties
Stage 3 - Postgraduate vocational training
Specialty medical training - or postgraduate vocational training - is attained under the auspices of a specialist medical college, like the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).
Surgical trainees work and train in hospitals under the supervision of experienced surgeons. The training year begins in February in Aotearoa New Zealand and in Australia. The main components of SET training are:
- placements (or rotations) in hospital posts
- short courses - College run skills courses and specialty-specific courses
- research - each specialty has research requirements
- assessments - including work-based assessments and generic and specialty-specific examinations
Stage 4 - Fellowship and continuing professional development
Successful completion of a specialty medical training program results in fellowship of the specialty and is an endorsement that the fellow may practise independently in that specialty. All medical practitioners must maintain the currency of their skills and knowledge through continuing professional development.
Medical Education in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand
Medical education in Australia and New Zealand (PDF 1021.81KB) is an overview of the four stages of Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand medical education and the organisations involved.
Essential Surgical Skills
Essential Surgical Skills (PDF 1.15MB) recommends skills to be gained by the end of PGY2, prior to entry into SET and for General Practice Proceduralists. This guide will also be useful for
- Medical students and pre-vocational doctors - to build a portfolio in preparation for application to surgical training
- Hospital supervisors - to assist in providing relevant clinical experiences for residents intending to apply for SET
- Educators - to assist in developing learning resources relevant for SET.