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Exciting times ahead

Dear Trainees,

By now you are settling in to your new rotations/cities/states after the yearly changeover and upheaval. Whilst you have all been busy settling yourselves and your families into your new roles here at RACSTA we have been busy working on our five year survey results. Hopefully you have noticed and been diligently responding to our six monthly survey at the end of each term. Now that we have over five years of data we have collated this and released the results as part of the Executive Summary available via the RACS website. Your feedback really does make a difference and we have been presenting this data at RACS Council in order that it can directly impact and improve training.

As you can see  Trainees experiences and opinions are an important impetus for change so we must continue to make our voice be heard.

RACS is currently undergoing re-accreditation by the AMC. One part of this is a survey that you will have been sent to complete and may have been invited to meet with the representatives. I would encourage you all to engage with this process.

Rachel Care
Communications Portfolio

In This Issue...

Exciting times ahead
Survey results
RACSTA update
2017 John Corboy Medal
ICOSET Conference
Disaster preparedness study
Research Scholarship
Who is RACSTA?

Five Year Survey Results

We hope you have had the chance to review the Executive Summary of the five year survey results on the RACS website. For those of you who have not yet had a chance to read the report in full, here is a brief summary of the main findings:

Education and Training:
  • The majority of accredited training posts provide good training
  • Around half of Trainees feel they do not get enough acute operating exposure
  • Over half of Trainees rarely or never have case-based teaching during outpatients clinics
  • 60 percent of Trainees felt the presence of the fellow was a barrier to training
Flexible Training:
  • Less that 1 percent of Trainees completed any part of their training on a part time basis
  • Nearly 30 percent of Trainees would be interested in undertaking some of their training on a part time basis
Bullying and Harassment:
  • On average, 18 percent of Trainees report bullying and harassment occurring in a single six month period 
  • This may be under-reported given the data collection period (2010-2015) preceded the Expert Advisory Group's report. 
Industrial Relations
  • Overall the majority of Trainees feel they are working appropriate hours in order to gain FRACS, however over 30 percent report fatigue
  • Frequent relocation with the loss of employment benefits is acknowledged as an ongoing issue for Trainees
Key areas identified for action by the Specialty Training Boards and  RACS include greater flexibility in training; improving the culture within the training environment; providing regular feedback and moving away from the historical model of training towards a more contemporary competency based educational frameworks; using currently under-utilised clinical encounters to maximise training and develop our next generation of surgeons. 

Update from RACSTA Board

The RACSTA Board met on 18 February for the first meeting of 2017 and welcomed the following new members:
  • Jasmine Wong, NSW Representative
  • Niamh Keenan, Cardiothoracic Surgery Representative
  • Jun Kim, Neurosurgery Representative
The Board also said farewell to a number of members this year. Shehnarz Salindera (NSW Representative), Daniel Breen (TAS Representative), Gareth Crouch (Cardiothoracic Surgery Representative) and Chris Daly (Neurosurgery Representative). Thank you to you all for your time and effort on behalf of all Surgical Trainees. Your contributions were greatly appreciated.

The Board discussed a wide range of topics that impact Trainees and our training including the strike action occuring in New Zealand regarding safe working hours; the Operating with respect pilot courses and the development of a tool that will enable Trainees to use MALT offline. Professor John Windsor presented on the development of a Clinical Trials Network for Trainees. After positive feedback received, the RACSTA Induction Conference will be held later this year with fresh ideas in the mix to keep it relevant.
If you have an idea that will benefit trainees, or are interested in becoming more involved with RACSTA, email the RACSTA Executive Officer. We would love to hear from you!

2017 John Corboy Medal Winner

RACSTA would like to congratulate Dr Genevieve Gibbons on being awarded the 2017 John Corboy Medal. 

Dr Gibbons is a role model for all Trainees. She has been a source of support for Trainees in difficulty and will help Trainees negotiate the SET program as well as provide helpful advice to prospective Trainees in their preparation for the selection process. Dr Gibbons sets the standard for other Trainees to aspire to. 

Along with the medal, Dr Gibbons will be recognised on the Honour Board housed at  RACS and will receive complimentary registration to the ASC later this year. 

If you know of a Trainee who shows outstanding leadership, selfless service, tenacity and is committed to service of RACS Trainees, consider nominating them for the 2018 Medal. Nominations are open now. For more information, contact the RACSTA Executive Officer.  

Rethinking Surgical Training

Over the two days prior to the ASC, on Sunday 7 and Monday 8 May, the 6th International Conference on Surgical Education and Training (ICOSET) will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. The first of these conferences was held at the RACS Melbourne office in 2008. We promise that this meeting will be thought-provoking. 

The meeting includes a session on international issues, leading to perspectives such as "I have my FRACS, now what?" Brief international college updates are provided. There is a debate about the years prior to formal surgical training, especially around the necessity or otherwise of these prevocational years as well as the relationship to the model of training. 

Selection, seen to be a controversial area by many, will be discussed by Dr Brian Dunkin as a plenary, then workshop groups will follow, leading to all of conference discussion and consensus statement.

An optional dinner at the National Wine Centre is available for the Sunday night.

The second day provides perspectives and reports around in-training assessments including a panel discussion. After morning tea, there will be presentations from Dr Ian Incoll, Mr Simon Fleming and a video presentation about the 'Surgical Black Box" and training , narrated by Dr Teodor Grantcharov. 

After lunch, professional behaviours will be presented, followed by "Where I see SET in 5-10 Years" and the Dean of the Adelaide Medical School, Prof Ian Symonds, will provide his thoughts on where surgery sits in the medical school curriculum.

The day wraps up prior to the ASC Convocation ceremony.

Trainees are accorded a special registration fee of AU$200 (standard fee is AU$330). For more information or to register, please visit the ICOSET website.  

Disaster preparedness and training for Surgical Trainees

As a key member of the surgical and critical care team now and in the future, you will be called upon during disasters, whether natural or man made. Trainees are exposed to highly variable experiences in disaster medicine throughout their training, with many receiving little or no formal teaching or learning opportunities before being confronted with a real life situation. 

As a way of gauging surgical Trainees experience and preparedness for disasters, a link to the survey has been added to the RACS website. This is an entirely anonymous survey and has the full support of  RACSTA. A few minutes of your time will help us to collect evidence as to Trainees abilities to contribute in disasters and will shape the way training in this critical area is delivered. Your participation in this survey is appreciated. 

Rob McCusker
NT/SA Representative

Do you use Twitter?

Are you a regular user of Twitter? If so, did you know that #RACSTA is actively used and monitored? 

If you are posting tweets that you think Trainees will be interested in, make sure you use #RACSTA. Otherwise, have a look and see what is going on with your Association. 

Academy of Surgical Educators (ASE) Surgical Education Research Scholarship

Are you conducting research into the efficacy of existing surgical education or innovation of new surgical education practices?

Applications for the ASE Surgical Education Research Scholarship will be open from 1 March to 26 April 2017. RACS Fellows, SET Trainees, SET Applicants and IMGs are eligible to apply. For more information, visit the website

Who is RACSTA?

RACSTA is the Trainees' representative body to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), giving a voice to all Trainees. RACSTA aims to improve the training experience, protect the interests of Trainees, and provide an avenue between the trainees and RACS.

As a Trainee of RACS, you are automatically a member of RACSTA. We can represent you or discuss specific issues at training or regional meetings as well as provide support for complaints.

RACSTA has an Executive Committee that is made up of the Chair, Immediate Past Chair and a number of portfolios. These portfolios are:
  • Education: Ensures excellence in surgical education, focusing on the curriculum and facilitating the RACSTA End-Of-Term Survey of trainees.
  • Training: Also ensures excellence in surgical education, focusing on matters relating to the training environment.
  • Support and Advocacy: Advocates for the health and wellbeing of trainees and is the contact person for complaints or concerns with bullying or harassment.
  • Communications: Manages internal and external communication matters including coordinating articles for Surgical News, social media management and RACSTA brand management.

The Board

Chair: Ruth Mitchell (Neurosurgery, VIC)
Education: Philip Chia (General Surgery, ACT)
Training: Su Mei Hoh (General Surgery, VIC)
Support and Advocacy: Stewart Morrison (Orthopaedic Surgery, VIC)
Communications: Rachel Care (OHNS, NZ)

NZ Representative: Heath Lash
NSW Representative: Jasmine Wong
QLD Representative: Damian Fry
VIC Representative: Nicholas Low
TAS Representative: TBC
WA Representative: Leigh Archer
ACT Representative: Rudyard Wake
SA/NT Representative: Robert McCusker

Cardiothoracic Representative: Niamh Keenan (SA)
General Surgery (AU) Representative: Thomas Arthur (QLD)
General Surgery (NZ) Representative: Roberto Sthory (NZ)
Neurosurgery Representative: Jun Kim (QLD)
Orthopaedic (AU) Representative: Scott Taylor (VIC)
Orthopaedic (NZ) Representative: David Lees (NZ)
OHNS (AU) Representative: Marco Raftopulos (NSW)
OHNS (NZ) Representative: Benjamin Chan (NZ)
Paediatric Representative: Kim Aikins (NZ)
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AU) Representative: Sarah Tolerton (NSW)
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (NZ) Representative: Andrew Sanders (NZ)
Urology Representative: Ross Fowler (QLD)
Vascular Surgery Representative: Shrikkanth Rangarajan (VIC)

Co-Opted/Member by Application Representatives:
  • Laura Wang (General Surgery, NSW)
  • Yogeesan Sivakumaran (Vascular Surgery, NSW)
  • Mark Stringer (Orthopaedic Surgery, NZ)
  • William Perry (General Surgery, NZ)
  • Danielle Nizzero (Plastic Surgery, VIC)
Copyright © 2017 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trainees' Association, All rights reserved.

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