Master of Surgical Science

3 years part-time, Parkville — Domestic students

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Surgical knowledge:

  • Outline fundamental principles of surgery drawing on biomedical and clinical sciences
  • Describe a range of surgical presentations representing examples of trauma, sepsis, hemorrhage, malignancy and tissue ischemia and luminal obstruction
  • Describe the fundamentals of wound healing and care
  • Describe the anatomy and embryology relevant to clinical situations
  • Describe the pathophysiology of common clinical conditions
  • Describe oncological principles


Surgical skills:

  • Demonstrate a range of basic surgical skills including handling instruments, incisions, handling tissue, local anaesthetic techniques and tying sutures etc.
  • Assess and manage surgical wounds
  • Demonstrate competence in patient-centred surgical assessments of (simulated) patients
  • Demonstrate effective skills in consenting patients for surgery including explanations of risk information


Surgical practice knowledge:

  • Describe core approaches to surgery – open, endoscopic/endoluminal and laparoscopic/natural orifice – and their general indications
  • Apply concepts of molecular biology to management of common conditions 
  • Discuss surgical approaches and endoscopic techniques
  • Apply principles of patient safety in surgical practice
  • Apply basic biomedical science knowledge to clinical surgical scenarios
  • Discuss the application and interpretation of imaging techniques 
  • Identify principles of pre-, intra- and post-operative care
  • Describe principles of anaesthesia, including complications
  • Describe a range of surgical complications including haemorrhage, sepsis and cardiorespiratory conditions
  • Assess nutritional requirements of the surgical patient in the perioperative phase and methods of delivery
  • Describe risks of thrombo embolic complications and methods of treatment including prophylaxis
  • Describe the management of sepsis including the principles of antibiotic treatment
  • Describe features of contemporary surgical practice from a socio-politico-economic perspective
  • Outline the nine surgical competencies and their relationship to levels of surgical training


Professional knowledge

  • Define professionalism from a sociological perspective and apply to the role of a surgeon
  • Identify the role of the RACS (and other professional associations) in its contract with society
  • Describe common lapses in professionalism and their origins
  • Outline strategies for identifying and reporting on lapses in professionalism
  • Apply assessment measures of professionalism in the context of surgical practice
  • Describe the breadth of surgical careers including specialization, research and education roles
  • Plan their own surgical training pathway
  • Outline leadership theory and its application in surgical practice
  • Develop self-care strategies to meet the demands of a surgical career


Research knowledge and skills:

  • Implement and write up a surgical research project
  • Appraise literature relevant to a surgical research project
  • Demonstrate capacity to engage in reflective, critical discussion of the area of particular interest in surgery
  • Evaluate research data in the light of what is known on the given surgical topic
  • Manage all phases of a surgical research project
  • Evaluate ethical issues associated with the conduct of the surgical research project
  • Identify challenges to conducting surgical research
  • Demonstrate formal research presentation skills

Course Description

The Master of Surgical Science is designed for prevocational doctors who plan a career in surgery or a proceduralist speciality. The content is based on the JDocs Framework from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)(2014). Students in this course will receive formal and structured learning in the nine competencies the RACS expect of surgeons: medical expertise, judgment (clinical decision-making), technical expertise, professionalism and ethics, health advocacy, communication, collaboration and teamwork, management and leadership and, scholarship and teaching (RACS, 2012). However, the course does not confer the status/privileges of a surgeon nor does it guarantee entry to surgical training programs.

 This 3-year, part-time course will provide students with foundational knowledge and some skills relevant for entering surgical training. In particular, the course offers the theoretical background essential for practice in the nine surgical competencies. Although the course has been designed for students who are not on a surgical training program, it is also likely to be valuable to those who have recently commenced surgical training, especially the opportunity to complete a research project. Students will benefit from working while they are studying. Some subjects require clinical experience.

 Graduates may find the formal and structured theoretical foundation in surgical competencies relevant for entering higher training in other medical specialities that are procedurally-oriented.

 The Graduate Certificate in Surgical Science is an exit point after one year of study in the Master of Surgical Science. The Graduate Diploma in Surgical Science is an exit point after two years in the Master of Surgical Science.

Most subjects require attendance at up to two study days and up to two webinars each semester.

 Most teaching staff are practicing surgeons from the Department of Surgery. Content experts will also contribute to the program from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, ethics, human factors, leadership and education.

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