Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Institute of Academic Surgery


Institute of Academic Surgery - Get Involved

'Effective teaching may be the hardest job there is' William Glasser

The training pathway for surgeons starting from a medical student and progressing through to post fellowship level is provided by a number of different organisations with various expectations regarding the performance of the trainees along the way. This includes the University and associated Clinical School, the hospitals where the trainees are based, the College and individual specialty Societies and overall guiding bodies such as the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) and the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC).

Many aspects of the organisation and provision of surgical training at RPA are excellent, especially for advanced trainees on the Surgical Education and Training (SET) program.

The IAS will work in collaboration with surgical departments to deliver and coordinator quality post-graduate surgical education and training.

Education and training for perioperative nursing is often more structured, with a tighter regimen of credentialing for individual competencies, but it sometimes lacks depth in basic science and in understanding of the disease processes that are treated surgically today. The IAS will deliver programs that will enable and empower perioperative nursing professionals in their care of surgical patients.

Education and training in surgery and perioperative care takes many forms. The old model of apprenticeship in theatres still has a role, but it is not enough. Many of the competencies needed to be a surgeon have to be acquired outside the theatre environment. There are two areas where the old model falls down - firstly in non-technical competencies such as teamwork, communication and leadership, where simulation is much more effective, and secondly in lower level technical skills, because the adoption of minimally invasive surgery has removed many opportunities for teaching basic surgical handicraft.

In an effort to augment theatre experience in these areas, many institutions offer short intense courses, often held over weekends. These help, but single exposures can be educationally ineffective with poor retention rates.

The preferred model is the one embraced at the Toronto General Hospital, and adopted locally in the HETI based Graduate Diploma of Essential Surgical Skills. In these, trainees have repeated opportunities for incremental training that incorporates both technical and non-technical skills, and that assesses the trainees for competency over a planned and prolonged program. This will be the preferred model for education and training at the IAS wherever possible. Short courses will still be delivered, however, especially for more advanced trainees.

It is anticipated that the IAS will play an increasing role in the planning and delivery of the training and education sessions that are currently delivered in RPA, with expansion into more structured longitudinal programs as more teachers are engaged from each Department.