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Surgical Education and Training Program in Neurosurgery

Specialist training as a neurosurgeon

The Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand primary postgraduate qualification required to practice as an independent specialist neurosurgeon in the respective countries is the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) in Neurosurgery.    The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is the body accredited and authorised to conduct surgical education and training in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. The Surgical Education and Training Program in Neurosurgery (SET Program) is the accredited training program to obtain the FRACS and operates in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The administration and management of the SET Program is delegated to the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia (NSA) as an agent of the RACS.  The Board of Neurosurgery (Board) has dual reporting roles and represents both the RACS and the NSA on all matters relating to the Training Program  (information on the governance is available here).

Training Program overview

The overall objective of the SET Program is to produce competent independent specialist neurosurgeons with the experience, knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to provide the communities, health systems and professions they serve with the highest standard of safe, ethical and comprehensive care and leadership (information on the curriculum is available here).

The SET Program is conducted in accordance with the SET Program Regulations (available using the links for training levels below).  The SET Program can be completed in a minimum of five years full-time equivalent and a maximum of nine calendar years from commencement of training subject to satisfactory progression through the levels in the timeframes outlined in these Regulations.   The three levels of training are: 

Each level of the Training Program has multiple training requirements which are detailed in the SET Program Regulations.  Trainees must complete the training requirements for their level to be considered for progress. Trainees who reach the maximum time allowed in their level without successful completion of all training requirements may be dismissed from the SET Program. The SET Program requirements are detailed in the SET Program Regulations and include the following areas:

Entry to SET Program is via a competitive selection process (information on application and selection is available here). Trainees selected to the SET Program will be registered with the RACS and then managed by the NSA and the Board of Neurosurgery.  Surgical training fees are approved by the RACS and the NSA each year and are published on the websites.  Invoices are issued prior to the commencement of the training year. The RACS is responsible for invoicing and collection of fees.

The majority of the training is undertaken in clinical training posts accredited by the Board  in Australian and New Zealand hospitals (information on the training posts is available here). The clinical training posts facilitate workplace hands on service learning and exploration in a range of training environments providing the opportunity for the trainee to develop, with supervision, the requisite experience, knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to become a competent independent specialist neurosurgeon. Trainees are allocated to accredited training posts by the Board  for each year of their SET Program. Trainees will rotate through a minimum of three training units with accredited clinical training posts during their SET Program to ensure they receive a wide exposure to systems, supervisors and case mixes.  

On successful completion of the SET Program, the Chair of the Board  recommends to the RACS the awarding of the RACS Fellowship in Neurosurgery (the FRACS). 
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