Surgical Education and Training Program in Neurosurgery

Specialist training as a neurosurgeon

The Australian and 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 (the RACS) is the body accredited and authorised to conduct surgical education and training in Australia and New Zealand. The Surgical Education and Training Program in Neurosurgery (the Training Program) is the accredited training program to obtain the FRACS and operates in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

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

Training Program overview

The overall objective of the Training 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 Training Program is conducted in accordance with the Training Program Regulations (which can be downloaded here).  The Training Program is structured on a three level sequential curriculum to facilitate the cumulative acquisition of the experience, knowledge, skills and attributes aligned with the overall objective.  The Training Program can be completed in a minimum of five years and a maximum of nine years’ subject to satisfactory progression through the levels in the timeframes outlined in the Training Program Regulations.  The three levels are:

Each level of the Training Program has multiple training requirements which a detailed in the Training 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 Training Program. The Training Program requirements are detailed in the Training Program Regulations and include the following areas:

Entry to Training Program is via a competitive selection process (information on application and selection is available here ). Trainees selected to the Training 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 of Neurosurgery 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 of Neurosurgery for each year of their Training Program. Trainees will rotate through a minimum of four training units with accredited clinical training posts during their Training Program to ensure they receive a wide exposure to systems, supervisors and case mixes.  This will ordinarily include at least one clinical training post in a different jurisdiction requiring a move interstate or between Australia and New Zealand.

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