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The Surgical Education and Training (SET) programme in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery takes a minimum of five years to complete. The aim of the programme is produce competent independent plastic and reconstructive surgeons with the experience, knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to deliver the highest standard of safe, ethical and comprehensive care.

Programme Objectives

Upon completion of their SET programme in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery the graduating trainee will be able to:

  • assimilate, assess and evaluate knowledge in order to apply it to the care of patients.
  • exercise sound clinical ability and judgement in a wide range of clinical settings.
  • have the capacity to undertake complex work and demonstrate surgical dexterity.
  • communicate effectively and appropriately with patients, colleagues, allied healthcare workers and hospital administration staff.
  • assume the responsibility required of a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in meeting the health and welfare needs of the community.

Programme Structure
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.

Hospital Placements
Trainees may be required to participate in training rotations in all four training units which are located at Middlemore, Waikato, Hutt and Christchurch hospitals. Hospital placements are determined by the New Zealand Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Trainees complete assessments, skills courses and examinations as part of their training and their performance is reviewed regularly by their Supervisor of Training, who is a fully qualified and experienced surgeon. Trainees maintain a logbook of their surgical experience which is also reviewed by their supervisor. A trainee’s progression through the programme is dependent on satisfactory completion of all assessments.

Australasian Registrars Conference
The annual, Australasian, Registrars’ Conference is usually one week in duration and is held in March. The venue rotates around the cities of Australia and New Zealand. Attendance is compulsory for SET 2 to 5 trainees. SET 1 trainees must attend a separate annual training event. The majority of the course curriculum will be covered over a three year period, in a format determined by the conference convener.

Research Requirement
Trainees are required to complete research on a topic of relevance to Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Research activities can be categorized as publication, presentation oral/poster, or full-time research study with enrolment in a higher degree.

Plastic Surgery trainees who complete the five year SET Program and succeed in the Fellowship Examinations are eligible to be awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS).

Further Study 
It is common for surgeons to travel to other countries after obtaining their Fellowships to study for three to four years before returning to New Zealand. During this time, those interested in cosmetic surgery as a focus for their career seek additional experience and gain added expertise in this area.

It is not unusual for newly qualified New Zealand and Australian plastic surgeons to go to the US, Canada, the UK and Europe to find that they have greater experience and expertise than local surgeons at the equivalent stage.