American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Learning about Different Surgical Training Paradigms in Australia

Edward Shipper, III, MD in Australia

This past May, I had the opportunity to represent the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS) as the International Exchange Scholar to Australia. Having an interest in becoming a general surgery residency program director, I had originally approached the program in hopes of learning about the different surgical training paradigms around the world. The annual meeting of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)—the leading organization for the surgeons of Australia and New Zealand—immediately drew my attention, with numerous lectures and workshops planned to explore various aspects of surgical education. Several months later, I was fortunate enough to board a plane for Brisbane, Australia, home of the 2016 RACS Annual Scientific Congress.

While in Brisbane, the RACS graciously extended Dr. Ruth Mitchell, a neurosurgery “registrar” (Oceania parlance for what we would call a “resident”) and Chair of the RACS Trainee’s Association, as my host during the conference. My first evening in Australia, Dr. Mitchell invited me to the Trainees and Younger Fellows Dinner at the historic Brisbane Customs House situated along the banks of the Brisbane River. I am pleased to report that our colleagues Down Under share with us the same verve and vigor for professional conviviality during their College’s evening program. The iridescent glow from the sun setting on the river made for a memorable backdrop as I hobnobbed with Australian registrars, learning firsthand about their experiences as surgical trainees. The next day, Dr. Mitchell sat down with me for an hour to explain the nuts and bolts of the RACS training paradigm, layered with the rich insight of the leader of the Trainees Association.

In many ways, the challenges facing surgical training in Australia and New Zealand mirror those facing our residents and fellows in the United States. Seeing how our international colleagues approach these problems has given me new perspective on how to design solutions at home. I am grateful for the resources made available to me by the American College of Surgeons and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons; they allowed me to immerse myself in an environment where I could gain a deep and nuanced understanding of a topic that is meaningful to me.  Reflecting on my time at the conference, I am also reminded of the depth and breadth of opportunity to explore other areas of the surgical profession through collaboration with our international partners. I encourage all RAS-ACS members who are interested to pursue their passions abroad to apply to the RAS-ACS International Exchange Scholar Program!

Edward Shipper, III, MD, is a postdoctoral fellow in general surgery at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.