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General information and selection tools
Refer to the Specialty Board's selection regulations (PDF 182.96KB) for further information. RACS has approved the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Selection Initiative policy and the Board of OHNS has implemented this policy.
The following is a list of selection tools and their contributions to the overall score:
- Structured online curriculum vitae - 20 per cent
- Reference reports - 40 per cent
- Semi-structured interview - 40 per cent
Successful progression to interview
Only top ranked suitable applicants will progress to interview. The number of applicants interviewed will be based on the estimated number of positions available in 2020.
|Surgical rotations||Minimum duration||Validity period1||Completed by|
|OHNS2||10 weeks||3 years||Time of application|
|Surgery in general3||20 weeks||3 years||Time of application|
|Emergency Department4||8 weeks||NA||Time of application|
|Intensive Care Unit4||8 weeks||NA||Time of application|
|Selection Eligibility Form||N/A||N/A||Time of application|
Download and complete the selection eligibility form (PDF 75.65KB) which must be submitted to be eligible.
1. Rotations must have been completed within the specified validity period. Future rotations must be verifiable.
2. For current SET Trainees, OHNS unit must be completed within 2 years of first application to SET and for applicants in full-time research, within the 2 years prior to commencing research
3. Surgical rotations include those commenced after 1/1/2016 and completed by 31/12/2019. Surgical rotations include: Cardiothoracic Surgery, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Paediatric Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Urology, Vascular Surgery. All rotations must be verifiable on hospital letterhead stating duration and rotation type.
4. Please refer to list of Hospitals with pre-approved Emergency and ICUs (PDF 96.19KB). Other hospitals will be investigated on a case by case basis.
Structured online curriculum vitae (CV)
CV will score information on, and require documented evidence for:
- surgical and medical experience
- qualifications (Masters, PhD, FRACS, etc.)
- presentations (regional, national and international)
- skills courses.
No additional CV information will be accepted from applications.
Certification of Rural Origin is required from an independent source(s) and must be uploaded using the RACS template letter (PDF 154.87KB) with the application.
The Health Workforce Locator available on the Department of Health website can be used to determine rural origin.
Frequently asked questions
Q: If I have lived for almost five years in a rural area (e.g. four years and 11 months), am I an applicant of rural origin?
A: No, you must have lived in an ASGS-RA 2-5 area for at least five years consecutively or at least 10 years cumulatively to be classified as being of rural origin.
Q: Am I an applicant of rural origin if my address is 20 metres from a RA2 area?
A: No, you must live within a ASGS-RA 2-5 area for you to be classified as being of rural origin.
Q: Half of my street is counted as rural and the other half is not. If I live on the part of the street that is outside the ASGS-RA 2 area, can I be considered as a rural applicant?
A: No, you must live within an ASGS-RA 2-5 area to be classified as being of rural origin.
Q: Can time spent living in an ASGS-RA 2-5 area for shorter periods be added together to make up the five years?
A: No. Under the Australian Government's definition, 'Rural origin' is defined as residency for at least five years consecutively or at least 10 years cumulatively. Shorter periods of time may be added together but must make up 10 years cummulatively in an ASGS-RA 2-5 area.
Q: Does time spent in a boarding school in a major city count if my home address is in an ASGS-RA 2-5 area? Am I defined as a rural applicant if I went to primary school in a rural area, and then to boarding school in Sydney?
A: Time spent in a boarding school in a major city does not count towards the requirement. However, the time you spend at your home address in a rural area during school holidays does count towards the 10-year requirement.
If you went to primary school in a rural area and spent your secondary school holidays at your home address in a rural area, you will be defined as a rural applicant only if the total amount of time you spent living in a rural area amounts to any five years consecutively from the age of five upwards or 10 years or more cumulatively.
Q: Does time residing at a university residential college count if I return home to a rural area during semester breaks?
A: Time spent residing at a residential college will count towards the 10-year requirement only if the University is located in an ASGS-RA 2-5 area.
Structured referee reports
Applicants must provide current contact details, including a valid email address for:
- A minimum of eight (8) surgical consultants including all OHNS consultants who have worked with the applicant since 1 January 2017 and prior to the closing date of applications.
- Four (4) non-surgical staff members they have worked with from 1 January 2018 and prior to closing date for applications including at least one Nursing Unit Manager
Who can qualify as a referee?
- Referees must have worked with the applicant for a minimum of eight (8) weeks (or full-time equivalent).
- Surgical referees must be able to comment on all aspects of the applicant's work-place performance. They cannot be a RACS SET trainee or IMG under assessment at the time of rotation.
- Non-surgical referees provided may be: Nursing Unit Managers, Nurse Practitioners, Surgical Nurses, Operating Theatre Nursing Managers or Speech pathologists attached to the OHNS department.
- No more than two (2) non-surgical referees from any one rotation.
- If in full-time research, refer to the selection regulations.
What is the time period in which a non-surgical referee will be considered valid?
- Referees must be from within the last two (2) clinical years.
How are referees selected?
- The preparation of the reference report for each applicant will be the responsibility of two people approved by the Board Chair (the assessors).
- In selecting the surgical consultants and non-surgical staff, the assessors may contact any consultant or non-surgical staff member the applicant has worked with in Australia or New Zealand in the two years prior to application.
How are the structured referee reports collected and scored?
- The assessors together (via teleconference or in person) will personally speak with three surgical consultants and one non-surgical referee.
- Having considered the responses from all interviews, the assessors will arrive at a consensus score which will be recorded as a percentage.
- Applicants must score a minimum of 50 per cent for the reference report to be eligible to proceed in the selection process.
Date of interviews: TBC
Date invitations to interview sent: no later than 10 business days before the interview day.
Announcement of offers
Announcement of offers to successful applicants will be made by 30 November 2020.
Feedback to both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be made in accordance with the Selection to Surgical Education and Training policy (PDF 107.13KB).
In 2010 six (6)* Trainees were appointed into the SET program to commence in 2011.
In 2011 fifteen (15)* Trainees were appointed into the SET program to commence in 2012.
In 2012 fifteen (15)* Trainees were appointed into the SET program to commence in 2013.
In 2013 nineteen (19)* Trainees were appointed into the SET Program to commence in 2014.
In 2014 twelve (12)* Trainees were appointed into the SET Program to commence in 2015.
In 2015 six (6)* Trainees were appointed in the SET Program to commence in 2016.
In 2016 thirteen (13)* Trainees were appointed in the SET Program to commence in 2017.
In 2017 twenty two (22)* Trainees were appointed into the SET Program to commence in 2018.
In 2018 seventeen (17)* Trainees were appointed into the SET Program to commence in 2019.
In 2019 twelve (12)* Trainees were appointed into the SET Program to commence in 2020.
*Includes deferred offers.