Surgical Education and Training (SET)


There are several steps involved in becoming a surgeon. The critical step involves entry into the competitive Surgical Education and Training (SET) Program run by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).

The following is a general overview of the steps involved before commencing the SET program.

  • Medical Degree
  • Internship and Residency
  • Zero or more SRMO unaccredited years

Selection for the SET program is competitive and based on a structured curriculum vitae (20%), referee reports (40%), and an interview (40%). The weighting of each component varies between the surgical specialties; however, the percentages above are given as a rough guide.

Although the path to becoming a surgeon may appear long and arduous, students can ameliorate it by addressing the 9 RACS competencies from an early stage.

RACS Competencies

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has specifically highlighted 9 competencies. These competencies are used in assessing the suitability of applicants for the SET program and students can easily address these competencies with extracurricular activities at the medical school level.

The 9 RACS competencies are as follows:

  • Technical expertise
  • Medical expertise
  • Judgement – clinical decision making
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Management and leadership
  • Health advocacy
  • Scholar and teacher
  • Professionalism and ethics

A more detailed description and breakdown of each competency can be found at the RACS website.

Addressing the Competencies

There are a number of activities students can undertake during the course of the graduate medical program that may accrue points within the structured curriculum vitae by addressing one or more of the RACS competencies.

All Stages

  • Develop and practice surgical skills at the SUSS skills lab
  • Attend skills sessions and courses
  • Actively participate with surgical teams: attend ward rounds, theatre lists, and clinics
  • Attend medical imaging and radiology tutorials
  • Apply for scholarships and prizes relevant to your area of interest. Examples include the A M Taylor Scholarship in Orthopaedic and Traumatic Surgery, Dean’s Scholarship, Wolfe Solomon Brown Prize and the Professor John Irvine Hunter Prize. Further details are available at the faculty scholarships website and the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology website
  • Participate in the SUSS mentoring program (from 2017 onwards)
  • Take on a management or leadership role within SUSS or Sydney University Medical Society (SUMS)
  • Explore tutoring and teaching opportunities at clinical schools and elsewhere within the University
  • Take part in research projects and contribute to publications
  • Participate in the SUSS Journal Club or similar
  • Attend the RACS Annual Scientific Congress (ASC)
  • Attend the Developing a Career in Academic Surgery course
  • Join SUSS in running the City2Surf in scrubs to raise funds for the plastic and reconstructive surgery charity Interplast
  • Most importantly, read about the procedures and general management in your area of interest

Stages 1 and 2
Prosection workshop and competition (Anatomy)

Stage 3
Global health elective exchange scholarships
Electives in Surgery
Postgraduate Anatomy by Whole Body Dissection Course