Plastic Surgery Training in Australasia

 

Dr Hanh Nguyen
Hand Surgeon
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Confusion has arisen over the qualifications and authentication of plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons in Australasia. There is currently much debate between plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons regarding the 'code' to which the respective disciplines adhere, the roles they perform and the procedures they undertake. So what is plastic surgery? What does it take to become a qualified plastic surgeon?

Confusion has arisen over the qualifications and authentication of plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons in Australasia. There is currently much debate between plastic surgeons and cosmetic surgeons regarding the 'code' to which the respective disciplines adhere, the roles they perform and the procedures they undertake. So what is plastic surgery? What does it take to become a qualified plastic surgeon?

What is a plastic surgeon? The best way of reviewing this situation is firstly to understand the qualifications, training process, accreditation process, associations and college structure for each discipline. Outlined here are the basic principles pertaining to the specialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery in Australasia. Plastic surgeons undertake training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and specialize in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery. The training process involves a competitive selection process; a primary examination; training courses provided by the RACS; compulsory research and after a period of 5-6 years - a final examination. Training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery may involve 2 years of General Surgery followed by 4 years of specialized training in Plastic Surgery. Following completion of surgical training time, and having completed the RACS examinations to attain the fellowship [FRACS (Plast)] - fellows of the College typically undertake a further 1-2 years of semi-supervised training in their particular subspecialty area of interest.

Qualifications:

  • FRACS (Plast) - Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons with specialized training in Plastic Surgery
  • FRCS Plast - Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in England with specialized training in Plastic Surgery
  • FACS - Fellow of the American College of Surgeons
  • FRCS - Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • FRCS (Ed) - Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • FRCS (Glas) - Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Glasgow 
  • FRCSI - Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Associations, Societies and Foundations: Qualified surgeons often belong to a number of 'surgical societies'. In general these associations have an educational and consolidative role and hold clinical meetings and discussion groups for the benefit and interest of members. The societies do not usually examine the expertise of their members but may exclude those who have minimal or no training or expertise. ASPS - Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons

NZAPS - New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons

  • Not-for-profit professional association representing plastic surgeons in New Zealand
  • The association accepts as members only Surgeons who hold the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) or an equivalent qualification in Plastic Surgery
  • Currently has around 35 members

ASAPS - Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons

  • Not-for-Profit professional association.
  • Devoted to maintenance of excellent ethical and professional standards within the field and the provision of information to all interested parties.

NZFCPS - New Zealand Foundation for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

  • Members are RACS trained plastic surgeons with a particular interest in cosmetic surgery.
  • Cosmetic surgery forms a large part of their surgical practice

The aims of both ASAPS and the New Zealand Foundation are ongoing education of its members, peer review, quality control and the education of the general public about cosmetic surgery. Both are attempting to influence government and the Ministry of Health in setting appropriate surgical standards to protect people who have cosmetic surgery, either in New Zealand or Australia Other Organizations of which your plastic surgeon may hold membership, fellowship with, include:

  • ASPS - American Society of Plastic Surgeons
  • ASAPS - American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons
    • Board-certified plastic surgeons specializing in cosmetic plastic surgery.
    • Active-Members of the ASAPS are plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • BAPRAS - British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons
    • Full membership requires the surgeon to be listed on the Specialist Register of Plastic Surgery in the UK and hold or has held any consultant appointment working as a plastic surgeon in the National Health Service