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Have you Completed the Survey?

Dear Trainees,

It's winter, and unless you are blessed to be working in Darwin or Cairns, or somewhere warm, you are cold and probably exhausted. Perhaps you aren't getting enough operating time in theatre, or your new boss doesn't speak to you. Or maybe you are having the time of your life, having just done your first abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, or your best ever dynamic hip screw. You might be saving lives, alleviating human suffering or stamping out disease. Whatever your circumstances, you are almost certainly working really hard. Which is why I know you might not consider filling out this term's RACSTA survey as a high priority. It is a high priority for us, This survey is how we, your Trainee Representatives, find out from you what life is like on the ground, across nine specialties, and two countries. And we do everything we can with what we learn.

We are in the final stages of developing a five-year picture of what it is like to be a Trainee Surgeon in Australia and New Zealand, and we couldn't do it without your survey responses. Five years of survey data will increase our platform to advocate for you, and ensure your concerns are taken seriously. 

 If you were in a training post for the first half of 2016, you will by now have received an email link to the RACSTA survey.  Thank you for taking the time to do this. Filling out the survey helps us to be your trainees' organisation to the full. If you didn't get the link, or have any questions, contact the RACSTA Executive Officer

And so you know what we've been up to since the last survey, we have developed a newsletter to keep you informed. Please send us any feedback you like!


Ruth Mitchell
SET 4 Neurosurgery Registrar

In This Issue...

End Of Term Survey
Update from RACSTA
NZ Representative Update
RACS ASC Experience
Women in Surgery
Who is RACSTA?

Update from RACSTA

The RACSTA Board met on 12 June for a very productive meeting. The Board was able to welcome new members Philip Chia, Shrikkanth Rangarajan, Mark Stringer and Yogeesan Sivakumaran. Since the meeting, we can also welcome Benjamin Chan who is the new OHNS (NZ) Representative and Marco Raftopulos, the new OHNS (AU) Representative.  

RACS Fellowship and Standards Director John Biviano provided a presentation regarding complaints and how they will be managed in the future. He was able to answer a number of questions and the Board is confident the changes suggested will make it easier for Trainees to speak up when they have a concern.

Dr David Murray, Chair of the Indigenous Health Committee responded to a number of questions from the Board  in light of the recently launched Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reconciliation Action Plan. RACSTA and the Indigenous Health Committee will continue to work closely together and to emphasise this, RACSTA passed the following recommendation:
  • In support of the RACS Indigenous and Maori Health action plan, RACSTA commits to mentoring indigenous surgical training aspirants and providing resources to RACS and affiliated associations such as AIDA as appropriate.
RACSTA has advocated for trainees through RACS hierarchy for recognition of employee entitlements when transferring hospitals for new rotations. If there is any news on the progression of this issue, we will be sure to pass it on.

RACSTA continues to be invited to various expos and conferences with our contribution being greatly valued. 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!


Kia Ora from your New Zealand Representative 

I have recently attended two board meetings: The National Board meeting in Wellington and the RACSTA Board meeting in Melbourne. There are several action points from these meetings that I will be working on with the New Zealand Trainee Representatives in the coming months.

The National Board is working hard with the local DHBs to achieve collaborative MoU's for open communication between the key stakeholders with regards to complaints collection and reporting.

As some of you may be aware there was a Ophthalmology complaint lodged with the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) and the outcome of this complaint is less than ideal with the HDC failing to grasp the negative implications of his statements and at times their inaccuracy. The NZ National Board is awaiting a response via the Council of Medical Colleges who will be having a meeting regarding this case. I am also formulating a submission to the HDC that will go alongside supporting documents from the EDSA and NZ National Board and will push for a direct meeting with the HDC .

I continue to be impressed by the NZ Board's commitment to identifying our viewpoints and their responsiveness to our concerns. RACSTA has also been a great support of NZ. We also now have the biggest representation at Melbourne meetings compared to previous years. Our understanding of health inequality and the founding frameworks of the Treaty of Waitangi gives us an advantage when it comes to bridging health gaps. We were able to contribute positively to the current discussions around Indigenous Health and surgical training to coincide with the College's Reconciliation Action Plan.  

If you have any feedback with regards to any of the points or issues raised here, please feel free to get in touch with me via email.

Dr Ramez Ailabouni 

Learning about Different Surgical Training Paradigms in Australia

Edward Shipper, III, MD, is a postdoctoral fellow in general surgery at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. He attended the RACS Annual Scientific Conference in May as the International Exchange Scholar to Australia, representing the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RACS-ACS). Read what he had to say about his experiences

Women In Surgery Section

The Women in Surgery (WIS) Committee would like to invite all surgical trainees to join the section. WIS is focusing on mentoring, leadership, flexible training as well as recruitment, retention and advancement of women in surgery. These areas are not gender specific and all trainees are invited to join. To join the Women in Surgery Section, just send an email to

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 (VIC)
Education: William Perry (NZ)
Training: Su Mei Hoh (VIC)
Support and Advocacy: Stewart Morrison (VIC)
Communications: Rachel Care (NZ)
Immediate Past Chair: Grant Fraser-Kirk (QLD)

NZ Representative: Ramez Ailabouni
NSW Representative: Shehnarz Salindera
QLD Representative: Sarah Byrne
VIC Representative: Luke Bradshaw/Nicholas Low
TAS Representative: Daniel Breen
WA Representative: Leigh Archer
ACT Representative: Philip Chia
SA/NT Representative: Robert McCusker

Cardiothoracic Representative: Gareth Crouch
General Surgery (AU) Representative: Daniel Foley
General Surgery (NZ) Representative: Roberto Sthory
Neurosurgery Representative: Christopher Daly
Orthopaedic (AU) Representative: Todd Mason
Orthopaedic (NZ) Representative: Ramez Ailabouni
OHNS (AU) Representative: Marco Raftopulos
OHNS (NZ) Representative: Benjamin Chan
Paediatric Representative: Kim Aikins
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AU) Representative: Sarah Tolerton
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (NZ) Representative: Andrew Sanders
Urology Representative: Ross Fowler
Vascular Surgery Representative: Shrikkanth Rangarajan

Co-Opted/Member by Application Representatives:
  • Sally Ng
  • Thomas Arthur
  • Laura Wang (Section of Academic Surgery Representative)
  • Yogeesan Sivakumaran
  • Mark Stringer
Copyright © 2016 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trainees' Association, All rights reserved.

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