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SERT in the News

The NSW Ministry of Health ran a news story about SERT in their Surgery newsletter

“The Institute is collaborating with all RNS hospital surgeons, but especially with those who are actively involved in teaching, education, research and mentoring activities. Each surgical department was engaged in a massive consultation from July -November 2017 to help determine priorities, barriers and challenges when engaging in academic activities on the campus. Nine out of twelve surgical departments responded (75.0%), which demonstrates the high value they place on academia as part of professional practice.”

Surgical Information Recruitment Night

The Northern Network will be hosting a surgical information recruitment night. It will be held on Wednesday the 4th of July from 6-8pm, in Room 5D/E, Level 5 (Yellow Lift) in the Acute Service Building at Royal North Shore Hospital.

Download the flyer here.

Message from Professor Tom Hugh

Professor Tom Hugh

Another important academic position within the RNS SERT Institute (Lead, Surgical Excellence and Performance Change) will be advertised in the coming weeks and I encourage interested surgeons to apply (more on page 4). We will also be recruiting a 0.5 FTE administrative officer to support our ever-expanding work!

Based on feedback from surgical departments during our consultation process we have taken the following actions:

  • Started the recruitment process to appoint a dedicated surgical scientific officer to provide research support to the RNSH Division of Surgery (more on page 4)
  • Launched the RNS SERT Institute website (, which is being populated with information about surgical departments on the Northern campus, as well as profiles of surgical leaders working in the RNS SERT Institute. We anticipate this will become the main conduit for promoting surgical activity in our area. Shelly would appreciate any feedback you have about the website.
  • Assessed and developed a preliminary surgical research strategy, including our bio-statistics capacity and how the RNS SERT Institute can strengthen this further
  • Identified opportunities for collaboration with the academic anaesthetists at RNSH

We are planning an official launch of the RNS SERT Institute in June 2018. This will be another exciting milestone and an invitation will be extended to all clinicians and researchers within the Northern area.
The RNS DASO unit is also just about to announce the funding application outcomes to assist surgical departments with data management. 

International Clinical Trials Day Showcase

The RNS SERT Institute is collaborating with the Kolling Institute of Medical Research to celebrate the International Clinical Trials Day at the RNS hospital. The event is highly supported by the NHMRC. The Day itself falls on 20 May but because it is a Sunday this year, we will be celebrating it on Friday 18 May.
The RNS hospital’s main entrance foyer will be the showcase area where clinical trial posters will be displayed to raise awareness on the significance of innovation and research in professional practice.
All surgical departments are strongly encouraged to show-case their clinical trials, and also other research projects, at the foyer. This will also be an opportunity for us all to come together, including our community members and visitors, and learn about the great work that we are doing here!
Please contact Linda Pallot, Clinical Trials Research Nurse, Vascular Surgery, , if you are
interested to showcase or will like to help organise this event.

New Appointment – Dr Anthony Glover

Dr Anthony Glover

Anthony had been appointed to the SERT Institute as Lead for the Masters of Surgery program. Anthony is an Endocrine, Oncology and General Surgeon, and an NHMRC Early Career Fellow. His research focuses on understanding the molecular biology of endocrine cancers (thyroid and adrenal) to develop new treatments to improve outcomes. Anthony completed general surgical training at St Vincent’s Hospital (Sydney) and clinical fellowships in surgical oncology with the Royal Marsden Hospital (London) and with the University of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit. Anthony obtained a PhD for his work on the molecular biology of adrenal cancer with the Cancer Genetics Laboratory of the Kolling Institute (University of Sydney) and subsequently was awarded an NHMRC Neil Hamilton Fairley Early Career Fellowship which allowed him to obtain post-doctoral research training with the James Fagin Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York).
Anthony is a newly appointed VMO at RNSH, a Clinical Lecturer with the Northern Clinical School and an instructor for the College of Surgeons for the improved outcomes and ASSET courses. His main role within the RNS SERT Institute will be to coordinate and expand the Masters of Surgery program on the Northern campus.

Visit from the NSW Ministry of Health

L-R Top row: Chrissie Crawford, Melinda Pascoe, Shelly Dhaliwal, Joe Portelli, Graham Hanson, Diane Elfleet, Prof Tom Hugh
L-R Bottom row: Maria Albania, Olivia Kirkland

We were recently visited by delegates of the NSW Ministry of Health’s Health System Purchasing and Performance Branch Melinda Pascoe and Chrissie Crawford. Their role includes advising the Ministry on improvement strategies, performance against key indicators and issues regarding elective surgical services. The purpose of their visit was to get a better understanding of the innovative projects going on within the RNSH Division of Surgery and Anesthesia.
The meeting was attended by Prof Tom Hugh; Diane Elfleet
(A/Divisional Nurse Manager, Division of Surgery and Anaesthesia), Shelly Dhaliwal, Maria Albania, Joe Portelli (Manager, Analytics and Business Intelligence Unit), Graham Hanson (Senior Business Analyst) and Olivia Kirkland (CNC, Acute Surgical Unit).

We had an opportunity to present the RNS SERT Institute and the RNS DASO Unit activities to date. We also discussed the Theatre Information Management System (TIMS), the Waitlist Application and the Acute Surgical Unit. It was an opportunity to share knowledge and there were discussions of the state-wide roll-out of some of our projects. Needless to say, the Ministry delegates were impressed by the great work going on at RNSH.

Sydney Medical Program Update

by Associate Professor Margaret Schnitzler

The surgical teaching component of the Sydney Medical Program has been favourably evaluated by students. However, we are always striving to improve the teaching of surgery and student experience. With this in mind, we ran the inaugural summer surgical program for 4 weeks in November/December 2017. This program is designed to give stage 1 and 2 students some exposure to surgery ahead of their clinical attachments in stage 3. Thirty-two students were placed with various surgical departments at RNSH and all participants indicated that their interest in surgery had increased. In the words of one student:

“I had the most fantastic week with the neurosurgery team. I learned many new skills and also gained a much greater understanding of how a surgical team fits into the day-to-day running of a large hospital. It was exciting and great fun and the surgeons were all very helpful and welcoming. I wish I could do it all again!”

It favourably that this will be an annual activity at the Northern Clinical School and we hope to expand the number of placements in coming years. The structured surgical teaching program has been extensively revised in the past couple of years with a focus on interactive and case-based sessions to complement the online lecture program. This year has seen the introduction of a series of clinical reasoning sessions on common surgical topics with a case student presentation and an expert surgical mentor. All of our Thirty-two is evaluated and student feedback is used to plan future sessions. We are fortunate to have an enthusiastic group of consultant surgeons and fellows who contribute to the surgical program at the Northern.

RNSH SERT Institute Update

by Shelly Dhaliwal 

The last 6 months have been exciting for the Institute, with numerous milestones achieved:

  • The RNS SERT Institute webpage is up and running ( and provides an excellent portal for communicating our activities
  • The RNS SERT Institute Committee is working through an action plan in response to discussions and feedback from all surgical departments, including developing some key performance indicators

Some of our planned actions include:

  • Identifying and nominating an academic lead within each surgical department in consultation with the Head of that Department. We hope to drive surgical educational activities on the RNS campus through this identified lead and to provide them with the necessary support, including promoting them and their activities through our webpage
  • Expanding the Fellow positions to include research and teaching as an integrated part of the Fellowship
  • Supporting and strengthening surgical teaching in the newly revised University of Sydney MD program

May 2018 newsletter is now available

Our May 2018 newsletter has been released.  Highlights include updates from the SERT and DASO teams, the Sydney Medical Program and the Postgraduate Research and Training Programs.

RNSH Data Analysis and Surgical Outcomes (DASO) Unit Update.

by Maria Albania

The RNS DASO Unit continues our recruitment progress by welcoming our first data manager Wally Shi. Wally has a degree in BSc. (Biological Science) and joined the Unit after a decade of service to NSW Health Pathology with SSWPS Liverpool, SEALS Prince of Wales, and Pathology West, Westmead. Wally has extensive experience in human resource management, auditing, preparation and presentation of key performance indicators, quality control, quality assurance, training, and workflow review, analysis and improvement. Wally is keen to continue developing strategies to help reduce errors and improve efficiencies of data processes.

The RNS DASO Unit also welcomes Peter Moritz, Acute Surgical Unit/DASO Unit data manager, who has extensive experience in clinical data systems, data management and analysis. Graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) from the University of Queensland, Peter went on to study as a medical student within the Queensland Health and gained a valuable insight into the hospital system from a clinical perspective. Prior to joining the DASO Unit, Peter was a Clinical Data Analyst with a corporate healthcare company and developed reports on clinical data for a range of projects, including research investigations and the evaluation of federal government initiatives. Peter’s keen interest in the medical field has also seen him assist in biological research and volunteer with charities that help patients and their families. Peter brings a passion for developing robust data processes to evaluate programs and is always keen to further his knowledge of statistical analysis.

In other exciting news, we have been busy developing Powerforms and KPI data collection and analysis tools for the new Acute Surgical Unit, and a data manager for Interventional Neuroradiology is soon to come on board. A data manager for Cardiothoracic Surgery is also in the process of being recruited.