Chair's Message

Dear Rural Surgery Section Members,

It’s nearing two years since the Rural Surgery Section proposed the Rural Health Equity Strategic Action Plan (RHESAP) to RACS Council. Under the great leadership of the Rural Health Equity Steering Committee ably chaired by Councilor A/Prof Kerin Fielding, I’m pleased to note there have been significant strides made since its approval. The latest action to be ratified is that all RACS committee meetings must have rural as a standing agenda item. We hope to have rural representation incorporated into the composition of committees adopted next. It would be an integral step to ensure that rural voices are included in the decision-making process. Several projects implementing deliverables of the RHESAP are also well underway. These include: 

  • The investigation and development of a rural-facing surgical curriculum and evaluation of next steps (with support from the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care STP support project) – more about it below 

  • Asynchronous videocoaching in rural settings (with support from the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care STP support project) 

  • Rural Accreditation of hospital training posts (with support from the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care Flexible Approach to Training in Expanded Settings program) 

As a follow-up to my presentation delivered at the 2022 ASC Brisbane, this is now a published journal article and can be cited in the latest edition of ANZ Journal of Surgery entitled Rural Health Equity Strategic Action Plan: excellence through equity.  

The matter of non-medical surgical assistants has been at the forefront of the Section’s advocacy. This Australian-centric issue arose from the Medicare Benefits Schedule Continuous Review on expanding MBS access to non-medical surgical assistants. Their report recommends that appropriately trained and experienced non-medical surgical assistants (including advanced practice registered nurses, perioperative nurse surgical assistants and nurse practitioners) should be able to claim current MBS items for surgical assistant services. 

This is an important issue in rural, regional and remote areas where non-medical surgical assistants have reliably provided assistance under the supervision of rural surgeons for several years when there has been a lack of medically trained surgical assistants. Surgeons are best placed to determine who can surgically assist with reference on the complexity of the procedure, the assistant’s level of competence and available local workforce. Whilst this presents a great opportunity, it must not be supported in circumstances where there is an available pool of medically trained surgical assistants (especially in urban settings), for complex operative cases, and where it might interfere with surgical trainees’ ability to access training in the operating theatre. Working with the relevant stakeholders, RACS can play a significant role in defining what constitutes adequate past experience, and adequate training for a non-medical surgical assistant. More information about the consultation is available on the MBS consultation website.  RACS’ submission is available on the RACS website and received input from the Rural Surgery Section, Rural Health Equity Steering Committee and the Health Policy and Advocacy Committee.

I’m thinking of those of you currently affected by the widespread floods, suffering damage to homes or businesses or the impacts of roads still under water or damaged and impassable. Our home and farm are ok, but we are still taking long detours around closures to get to work and out-paddocks and to get the kids to and from school. It’s such a tough time for many rural and urban people and not easy or quick to recover from.

Thank you to Dr Damian Fry for his work and presentation as the Rural Coach at Provincial Surgeons Australia (PSA) Annual Scientific Conference (ASC).  Feedback from Trainees and Junior Doctors on his presentation was great. Read the reports in the article below "Reflections from Trainees and Junior Doctors on the PSA". 

I encourage you to contact me to let me know about your local challenges or successes in your area. This will allow me to advocate and help where possible or share successes for the benefit of all. 

Dr Bridget Clancy MBBS FRACS GAICD

Upcoming Events
Kenneth Jamieson Lecture - rescheduled for 20th October 2022

The annual Kenneth Jamieson Lecture ‘Trauma and the Rural Generalist: Haemorrhage control and a shoulder to cry on’ presented by Dr Matt Mazel, to be held at the RBWH this Thursday 20 October 5.30pm start .This is a free event and registrations are available for both virtual and in-person attendees.
Click here for flyer and registration link.

All enquiries may be directed to


Bioethical Framework Implementation in Clinical Practice – presented by RACS Medico Legal Section

Saturday 5 November 2022, 9am – 5pm AEDT
Clifton’s Sydney, NSW

The forum will stimulate robust bioethical discussions among surgeons. The Forum has a broad clinical emphasis to reveal current medical, surgical and hospital practice and to bring into focus innovations in medicine, nursing, pain relief and surgery that continue to evolve.

Find out more here

RACS/ANZCA/ACEM Joint Symposium: Family Violence – Health System Response
Thursday 10 November 2022, 9am - 4pm AEDT
Jubilee Room NSW Parliament, 6 Macquarie Street, Sydney

This year’s joint symposium on family violence, convened by Assoc Prof Payal Mukherjee FRACS and Dr Ken Harrison FANZCA, with keynote speakers including

  • Dr Mayet Costello, Violence, Abuse & Neglect, NSW Health
  • Professor Kelsey Hegarty, Family Violence Prevention, University of Melbourne and RWH
  • Dr John Sammut, President Medical Council NSW
  • Natalie Ward, NSW Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence, will open the symposium

Register here
View the provisional program

Items of Interest
Rural Surgeon’s Flood Response and “Safe Workplace culture” Efforts Recognised.

A rural Specialist General Surgeon in the Northern Rivers area of NSW – who played a major role in the response to the region’s devastating floods and is very active in supporting junior doctors and advocating for a safe workplace culture in the medical profession.
Dr Sue Velovski was presented with the RDAA Doctor of the Year Award 2022 at the Rural Medicine Australia (RMA22) conference dinner in Canberra on Friday night. Read the RDAA media release here.

Recognising Rural Champions – Recent Recipients of the RACS Rural Surgeon Awards
Dr Michael Wilson FRACS

Dr Wilson has been an otolaryngologist and Fellow of the College for over forty years and for the last thirty years he has practised at the Kilmore and District Hospital. He was the first ENT Surgeon to the hospital where he was the sole practitioner in the area for over twenty years. Since then, several ENT Surgeons have joined to work alongside him. Prior to Kilmore he was the visiting surgeon to Goulburn Valley Base Hospital and Swan Hill and District Hospital. In recognition of his work, he is a past recipients of several awards including RACS Educator of the Year, RACS Indigenous Health Medal and RACS Certificate of Outstanding Service. He has been made a Life Governor of The Kilmore and District Hospital and is much admired by his patients, hospital staff and colleagues.
Dr Wilson was presented with his award at the ASOHNS meeting in August.

Dr William (Bill) Ross FRACS

Dr Ross was presented with his award at the RACS NSW Coffs Harbour meeting October and is pictured with Secretary for NSW Health, Susan Pearce.  Dr Ross has served the Coffs Harbour community for 24 years as a General Surgeon specialising in Breast and Melanoma.  

He was key to establishing the breast cancer service in Coffs Harbour implementing quality measures such as a Breast MDT and Breast Care Nurse well before they became standard of care. He also established sentinel node biopsy for breast and melanoma in the region ensuring patients had access to high quality care locally.  Long-time surgical supervisor, FRACS examiner and teacher on RACS courses Dr Ross has endlessly contributed to the education and development of the future surgeons. Further to these achievements’ Dr Ross embodies the qualities of integrity, excellence and community service that RACS values. 

Australian Institute of Company Directors (
AICD's) Women’s Regional, Rural and Remote Diversity Scholarship Program

With support from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women, the AICD’s Women’s Regional, Rural and Remote Diversity Scholarship program provides existing and emerging female leaders in these areas across Australia the opportunity to participate in their world-class courses and develop their director careers.

AICD’s welcome applicants who reflect the diversity of Australia’s population and encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, culturally diverse women, women with disability and those in the not-for-profit sector to apply.

The program is offering the following courses to be undertaken in 2023:
  • 30 full-fee scholarships for experienced directors to undertake the Company Directors Course; and
  • 24 full-fee scholarships for emerging directors to undertake the Foundations of Directorship program
Each scholarship includes subsidised travel and accommodation (for face-to-face attendance only), as well as a year’s membership to the AICD including a subscription to their Directorship Opportunities service.

The scholarships are administered by the Australian Scholarships Foundation. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible, click here.

Applications are open now and close at 11:59pm (AEDT) on Sunday, 30 October 2022.
Reflections from Trainees and junior doctors on the PSA Conference, Mackay 11-13 August 2022

In supporting Trainees, SIMGs and junior doctors to pursue rural surgical careers, the General Surgeons of Australia with the RACS Rural Coach Program offered 15 Rural Surgery Registration Grants to attend the 57th Provincial Surgeons of Australia (PSA) Annual Scientific Conference.
Grant recipients shared their reflections on attending in the reports viewable on the Rural Surgery Section webpage 
Research tackles the unique challenges of rural training with curriculum
The unique challenges faced by surgeons in the rural settings have been identified in research undertaken as part of Australian Government STP funded project. It has found that Judgement and Clinical Decision Making and situational awareness of the local context are some key determinants to providing a positive work exposure in rural healthcare settings. More information about this project findings appears in the Surgical News volume 23 issue 5 

Rural Surgeons Award

The Rural Surgeons Award is an award acknowledging significant contributions to surgery in rural settings in New Zealand and Australia.  

Nominations for 2023 are open.   Please refer to the policy governing the Rural Surgeons award (PDF 98.23KB) before submitting a nomination. Nominations must meet the criteria outlined in this policy. 

Nominations may be mailed to: 
Rural Surgery Section Secretariat 
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 
Suite 1, Level 26 
201 Kent Street 

or sent by email to:  

91st RACS 2023 Annual Scientific Congress – Equity in Surgery
Planning is underway for the 91st RACS ASC to be held in Adelaide from 1 - 5 May 2023. Members are invited to nominate topics or speakers they would like to hear from on the theme of Equity of Surgery. The Rural Surgery Section will be ably convened by Dr Chetan Pradhan. Please submit your suggestions to the Rural Surgery Section secretariat at

About the Rural Surgery Section website and useful links
The Rural Surgery Section strives to foster excellence and equity in the practice of rural surgery in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Our website provides resources to inform members about updates and opportunities related to rural continuing health educational activities.
Surgeons' Wellbeing
RACS encourages all surgeons to recognise and discuss any challenges facing them and to ensure self-care is part of managing their professional life. Check out our support program and resources.

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RACS Rural Surgery Section · Level 26 · 201 Kent Street · Sydney, Nsw 2000 · Australia

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