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New Academic Surgeon position in Surgery at RNSH

An advertisement for an Academic Surgeon with a specific role as “Co-Director of Surgery for the Sydney Medical Program at the Northern Clinical School” (0.2 FTE) is now on e-recruit. This position is the first of several new part-time academic surgeon appointments to work in conjunction with the Professor of Surgery and the SERT Institute. The successful applicant will work in a multidisciplinary environment in conjunction with the current administrative and clinical staff in the Northern Clinical School to expand and strengthen the surgical component of the SMP at Northern.

Manager, Data Analysis and Surgical Outcomes Unit (DASO) – Maria Albania

Ms Maria Albania

Maria Albania is a trained Biostatistician experienced in clinical data management. She is keen to ensure that clinicians have adequate data resources and that high-quality data is available in the public health sector. She has extensive experience in data management, statistics and health research including a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Masters in Biostatistics. Maria has previously worked for the Cancer Council NSW on research projects focused on skin cancer and prostate cancer. Maria has also spent time in the UK working in research management and governance at the National Institute for Health Research. In 2014 Maria moved her career to the NSW public health sector with previous roles as the Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery Data Manager at Royal North Shore Hospital and the Intensive Care Unit Data and Research Manager at Prince of Wales Hospital.

Manager, SERT Institute – Shelly Dhaliwal

Ms Shelly Dhaliwal

Shelly started her management career at a young age and was trained by the Australasian College of Health Service Management to take up leadership roles within the NSW Health. This included a Master’s degree scholarship in public health management. Shelly has since managed large portfolios both within and outside of NSW Health. She also had a brief career break, which led her to the Native Indian communities in Central and South America.
Shelly is enthusiastic about her new role and is looking forward to working with surgeons to enhance surgical academia on the Northern campus.

Message from Professor Tom Hugh

Professor Hugh

This is our second newsletter and I am pleased to announce that full-time managers of the SERT Institute (Ms Shelly Dhaliwal) and the Data Analysis and Surgical Outcomes (DASO) Unit (Ms Maria Albania) have now been appointed. Both have started in their new roles and they are excited about the work ahead (see their profiles below). Also, we have now advertised the first of four new part-time academic surgeon positions. The title of the new appointment will be Co-Director of Surgery for the Sydney Medical Program at the Northern Clinical School. See page 2 for more details.

A few weeks ago we visited the Institute of Academic Surgery (IAS) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. This is a new and innovative surgical research and education centre run by Michael Solomon and Paul Bannon. We sat in one of their fortnightly Executive meetings as observers and were then given a tour of the IAS facility. This includes a simulation theatre with robotic technology, a skills laboratory, and numerous tutorial and meeting rooms. The IAS is certainly changing the landscape of surgical training on their side of the bridge. It was inspiring to think what we might achieve here at RNSH!

We have put together two brief documents outlining the purpose, vision and mission of the SERT Institute and the DASO Unit. These will be distributed widely in the next few weeks with the aim of providing a deeper understanding of what we are trying to achieve in surgical acadaemia on the campus. I encourage you to be part of this initiative at RNSH.
There are many ways that busy clinical surgeons can get involved. I am hoping that the work of the SERT Institute will stimulate you to think about your own role as a surgeon in a major teaching hospital. I would welcome any comments or feedback.

Masters of Surgery – 17-19th November 2016

The Surgical Skills Module of the University of Sydney Masters of Surgery course was attended by 17 candidates. The cohort comprised future surgeons of varying experience – from medical students to surgical registrars. Over three days, the candidates were presented a number of lectures closely reflecting the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons nine core competencies. Candidates spent time undertaking supervised laboratory learning and practising essential basic surgical skills ranging from knot tying, skin lesion excision, suturing, use of energy devices, hand-sewn bowel anastomoses and laparoscopic skills. The course culminated in a practical assessment of these skills. Candidates were also required to complete a number of supplementary online modules and will also develop their own online video following the course which will be submitted for assessment.

Prof Tom Hugh with surgical residents at the Masters of Surgery Surgical Skills Course in November 2016.


  • Dr Anubhav Mittal (Director, Sydney Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre)
  • Prof. Tom Hugh (Chair of Surgery, Northern Clinical School)
  • Dr Yasser Salama (Consultant Colorectal Surgeon)
  • Dr Shahrir Kabir (Consultant Colorectal Surgeon)
  • Dr Chris Nahm (Surgical Fellow)


  • Assoc. Prof. Margaret Schnitzler (Associate Professor of Surgery)
  • Dr. Andrew Pearson (RNSH HPB Surgical Fellow)
  • Dr. Kai Brown (Surgical Registrar)
Dr Anubhav Mittal and Dr Shahrir Kabir demonstrating laparoscopic suturing to Masters of Surgery Candidates.
Masters of Surgery Course, Surgical Skills Centre, RNSH.

Special thanks to Jenny Ludeman – Manager of the Sydney Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre

Ms Jennifer Ludeman

Indeed, a special mention goes to Jenny Ludeman, Manager of the Sydney Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre who has put in tireless hours of work behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of all the courses run this year. It is clear that none of these courses would even be a possibility without the passion, support and expertise of Jenny and her staff. We acknowledge their efforts that consistently exceed all expectation in putting all of this together. Thank you, Jenny and the team!

Upcoming Events in 2016-2017

On the 10th of December 2016, the SERT Institute will be hosting a course for Fellows in accredited training with the Australia New Zealand Hepatic, Pancreatic and Biliary Association (ANZHPBA) using both cadaveric and animal models to demonstrate and practice advanced HPB surgical techniques such as hepatectomy, duodenal and pancreatic mobilisation, vascular reconstruction, and pancreaticoenteric and entericobiliary anastomoses.

In 2017, we hope to establish a video resource for prospective surgeons who wish to revisit basic surgical techniques, and further improve the quality of the facilities at the Clinical Skills Centre to enhance the training experience for attendees of all future courses.

Bowel Anastomosis Course – October 2016

This course was attended by a number of surgical senior residents and surgical registrars. The session consisted of a brief morning of lectures explaining basic concepts behind enteric anastomosis and stapling devices. This was then followed by a number of practical wet specimen sessions where residents and registrars were able to practice end-to-end interrupted bowel anastomosis, side-to-side (functional end-to-end) doubled layered sutured anastomosis, side-to-side stapled anastomosis and also circular stapled anastomosis.


  • Dr Anubhav Mittal (Director- Sydney Surgical Skills and Simulation Centre)
  • Prof. Tom Hugh (Chair of Surgery, Northern Clinical School)
  • Dr Yasser Salama (Consultant Colorectal Surgeon)
  • Dr Andrew Pearson (RNSH HPB Fellow)
  • Dr Chris Nahm (RNSH Surgical Fellow)

Basic Laparoscopic Skills Course – May and October 2016

Due to popular demand, this course was run twice this year. Attendees ranged from interns to surgical registrars and the course featured a number of lectures on the laparoscopic stack, patient positioning, electrosurgical technology and lap safety, pneumoperitoneum and safe entry techniques. The practical component consisted of activities initially on dry specimens with exercises to promote safe entry into the abdomen, precise tissue handling, transfer of objects, and respect for tissue planes. This was followed by activities on wet specimens allowing the use of electrosurgical devices, promoting safe use of these instruments and an understanding of the importance of ergonomics in laparoscopic surgery.


  • Dr Anubhav Mittal (Director- Sydney Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre)
  • Dr Andrew Pearson (RNSH HPB Fellow)
  • Dr Hamish Urquhart (RNSH Colorectal Fellow)
  • Dr Kai Brown (RNSH Surgical Registrar)
  • Dr Chris Nahm (RNSH Surgical Fellow)
Basic Laparoscopic Skills Course, 2016.

Message from Professor Tom Hugh

Professor Hugh

This is the first edition of a newsletter from the newly established Surgical Research, Education and Training (SERT) Institute at RNSH. It has been a busy six months during which much has been achieved. Job advertisements for Manager of the SERT Institute and Manager of the Surgical Audit Unit (SAU) are about to be released with expected appointments and start dates in January 2017. Discussions about the physical location of the SERT Institute on the main campus are being finalized and we anticipate that renovations will commence early in 2017 with a view to moving in no later than May 2017. We look forward to welcoming you at the official opening of RNSH’s first Academic Surgical Institute next year!