Surgical Education and Training (SET)


Reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery covers a broad scope of practice from procedures to improve your aesthetic appearance to reconstructive surgery. Specialist Plastic Surgeons are integral to the public hospital system. Through their research, plastic surgeons make scientific contributions to advance the body of knowledge relevant to the specialty. Plastic surgeons volunteer their time to the education and training of the next generation of plastic surgeons.

The Specialty of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is one of nine surgical specialties governed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). The five-year Surgical Education and Training Program (SET) is administered by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) on behalf of RACS. Entry into the training program is highly competitive. Visit the Selection for Training page for more information.

RACS Surgical Education and Training (SET) Program

RACS is the only training institution accredited by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Medical Council (AMC) officially authorised to provide surgical training for the nine specialist areas of medicine, including Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

The Australian Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (the Board) is responsible for developing the training program and the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) provides administrative support. RACS produces principles-based policies which are available on its website. The Board develops specialty-specific regulations where SET varies from model College policies. These include Assessment of Clinical Training; Recognition of Prior Learning; Research During SET; Surgical Supervisors; Trainee Misconduct; Variation to Training. The regulation for Selection into SET is revised annually.

Successful applicants begin their five years of training in the RACS Surgical Education and Training (SET) program in either February or August rotations. Each year of training is divided into two surgical terms. Trainees advance from general surgical assisting to undertaking more advanced plastic surgical procedures. Trainees always work under supervision.

Trainees are required to maintain logs of all reconstructive and cosmetic procedures either observed or undertaken. RACS Training Supervisors review and sign off on these logs. These documents serve as a record of surgical workload and are used to monitor current training and guide future training placements.

Training milestones and opportunities for assessment are frequent and accelerate the learning process. Trainees undergo major examinations during their first, second and final training years. Examinations are augmented by mandatory annual conferences and performance assessments.

High achievers in the training program are rewarded through overseas training opportunities at leading institutions, research scholarships, and funding to attend conferences.

Plastic surgery trainees who complete the five-year SET Program and succeed in the examinations are eligible to be awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS). A FRACS (Plast) award provides a range of career opportunities in both public and private settings.

More information on the SET Program can be found on the RACS Website.

Surgical Supervisors

Surgical supervisors are fully qualified and experienced surgeons. They oversee and control the quality of training throughout Australia. Their contributions include hands-on teaching, trainee assessment, non-surgical skills training, attendance at training meetings and participation in trainee selection. Supervisors dedicate a significant amount of pro-bono time to ensure that the high standard of Australian training is maintained.

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