Having completed an undergraduate degree in Medicine and Surgery you are faced with an enormous array of decisions regarding further training and your eventual career. Wading through all of the available information can be a daunting challenge and often decisions are made with inadequate knowledge of the options. In the end you should choose training and a career that you will enjoy, but the decision must also take into account the nature and duration of training, the eventual career structure and the overall lifestyle that it will afford you.

Purpose of the Guide

This guide was developed in an effort to provide junior doctors with information to allow them to make decisions about pursuing a surgical career. It relates primarily to training in general surgery within Australia and the emphasis is on advanced training. It is not an exhaustive catalogue of all details of training, rather it provides a summary and overview of information available elsewhere, and also practical tips and advice from trainees and surgeons.

There is no clinical information contained within the guide which you will find is divided into sections including RACS requirements for training, details of surgical training positions, the curriculum in general surgery, the part II examination and finally a section detailing various useful resources.

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Overview of training

The structure of surgical training continues to evolve. Currently there are two complementary parts: basic surgical training (BST) and advanced surgical training (AST). The RACS is moving towards integated surgical training with the establishment of a Surgical Education and Training (SET) program. SET applications have been accepted for 2008 and this will replace the divisions of BST and AST.

Basic Surgical Training

Surgical training begins with Basic Surgical Training which involves 2 years of resident medical officer level training. During these 2 years several courses must be completed through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. These include the Basic Surgical Skills course (BSS), the Early Management of Severe Trauma course (EMST), and the Care of the Critically Ill Surgical Patient course (CCrISP).

During the second year of BST you will be eligible to sit the FRACS Part I Examination for entry into Advanced Surgical Training. The selection of candidates into AST is based on several points of assessment including successful completion of the Part I Examination, mentor assessment, and a structured interview.

Unsuccessful candidates at will usually be offered further BST posts for another year until a successful application is made.

Advanced Surgical Training

To enter advanced training you must apply directly to the College of Surgeons. Once you have been selected into training you are then required to rank in order of preference the hospital training programs that you would like to enter.

Advanced training in general surgery involves 4 years as a registrar.

Other Surgical Training

There are nine specialist surgical training programs administered by the College of Surgeons. They are general, ear, nose, and throat, orthopaedics, urology, vascular, paediatric surgery, cardiothoracics, plastics and neurosurgery. All share a common Part I Exam.

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Parts of the Guide

RACS Requirements

This is a brief overview of the minimum requirments of advanced general surgical training that you should be aware of. You should always refer to the RACS website or contact the college directly for the most accurate and current information.


This will provide basic information about all of the Hospitals and units that are accredited general surgical training posts throughout Australia. You will find information about supervisors of training and the consultants working on each unit. There are also details on the workload of each unit and the range of surgical experience. Feedback from trainees to maintain and improve the information on rotations is always appreciated.

Part II Exam

In the fourth year of advanced training you should be eligible to sit the part II fellowship examination. This guide should assist you in preparing for the exam and to be successful you will need to plan and prepare early in your training. Eligibility to sit the examination requires more than simply completing three years of training. Contact the college to ensure that you are aware of all requirements.


There are many useful resources available to asssit you during training and in preparation for the part II exam. You will find websites and other resources here. They have all been used by previous trainees and you will find comments regarding their usefulness.

In this section you will also find practical tips and advice from previous trainees. Obviously each trainee will develop their own style and systems to assist them during training. If you feel that you have something to contribute to other trainees then please email me and it will be considered for inclusion on this site.

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