Category: Updates

Postgraduate research and training update

by Dr Jonathon Parkinson, Lead Post-graduate Education and Research.

During the next few months, we will continue to audit postgraduate research and training at RNSH. Many surgeons have already participated in a survey conducted by the Discipline of Surgery at the University which looks at recent research activities including student supervision, grant success and publications. In addition to this, I have been meeting with the supervisors of training within the surgical units to discuss what the expectations for research placed upon trainees are and how the RNS SERT Institute might be able to further facilitate this occurring. We will also be holding an education/support day for all surgical registrars and fellows later this year, likely in November. Stay tuned for details!

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

Data Analysis and Surgical Outcomes (DASO) Unit Update

by Maria Albania

The DASO Unit has already started making progress by increasing the number of resources for data management and audit support within the Division of Surgery. Two data manager positions are currently in the approval process to be recruited through the DASO Unit.

The NSLHD is committed to supporting existing and additional data management and audit services in the Division of Surgery & Anaesthesia at RNSH. The DASO Unit also has access to ongoing funding for distribution to departments across the division for the purpose of supporting surgical data management and audit activities.
To apply for resources for data support for your department please address each of the criteria below in a short application letter to the DASO unit:

  1. Surgical data/audit tasks & processes – outline both current and proposed data/audit processes to be undertaken in your department
  2. Current resources – describe what data management/support resources are currently available to your department
  3. Data capture & database systems – outline which systems and software packages are currently or will be used to capture clinical data in your department
  4. Reporting & analysis – outline how the data for your department will be analysed and reported and the intended use/purpose of the data
  5. Level of clinician engagement – detail the department’s expectation of how clinicians will be engaged in data and audit processes. Specifically please nominate a clinician who will be the data and audit champion for your department
  6. Requested resources – provide an estimate of the data management workload and personnel you might require

For more information please contact Maria Albania, DASO Unit Manager at or 02 9926 4560.

RNSH SERT Institute Update

by Shelly Dhaliwal

The RNS SERT Institute is undertaking an extensive consultation of all surgical departments to help inform our work-plan. We are asking for feedback in the following 4 areas:

  • What are your top 3 priorities (non-data related) in terms of surgical research, training, and education?
  • What are the top 3 challenges your department faces at RNSH (non-data related), preferably with examples?
  • What barriers, if any, do you or members of your department come cross when you attempt to conduct research, undertake clinical trials or teach surgery?
  • What would you like to see on the RNS SERT Institute website (currently being developed)?

We have received excellent feedback from several surgical departments already. Common themes include support in preparing research and ethics applications; being able to attract research funding; and increasing research output and publications in peer-reviewed journals. We are studying the submissions closely and have many ideas on how to address the points raised (with funding to match)!
Submissions initially closed on 15 September but the deadline has been extended to 15 October. If you have any questions, please contact Shelly on 9926 4526 or via One-on-one follow-up meetings with each Surgical Head (or delegates) are being arranged to discuss all submissions. The Institute is also designing a website and will be offering dedicated space to each surgical department in order to showcase their achievements.
Finally, a small RNS SERT Institute Committee has been set up and will be meeting three-monthly to help progress our goals.

Message From Professor Tom Hugh

Professor Hugh

Welcome to the third newsletter of the RNS SERT Institute. Congratulations to Dr Jonathon Parkinson, who was recently appointed into an academic position working at Northern and within the Institute. Jonathon brings great clinical, research and teaching experience; and will be an asset for surgical academia.

Two more academic surgical positions will be advertised in the coming weeks. We encourage all surgeons within the NSLHD to consider applying for these positions.

Shelly Dhaliwal, Maria Albania and I have been visiting surgical departments to provide an update on the activities of the RNS SERT Institute and the DASO unit. We have presented to nine surgical departments so far with several more to go. The main focus of our visit has been to make everyone aware that the Institute is now in consultation phase, where we need input and insights from surgeons to help develop our work-plan. In conjunction with the Division of Surgery, the DASO unit has created some simple application criteria for all departments and is now offering funds for data management support. 

I would like to remind all surgeons that the RNS SERT Institute is a joint venture and we need your involvement to optimise the resources available to us and to strengthen the presence of surgical academia on the campus.

Director of Surgical Skills Training Update

by Dr Anubhav Mittal

The Sydney Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre (SCSSC) located on level 6 of the Kolling Building routinely runs skills courses for the University of Sydney, industry, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, GSA and the ANZHPBA and ANSGOSA. These courses range from the basic skills courses that lay the foundation for future surgical skills learning to more advanced courses aimed at experienced surgeons. In addition, the centre also runs several ‘homegrown’ surgical skills courses that teach laparoscopic skills, bowel anastomosis and vascular anastomosis. The faculty for these courses is largely derived from surgeons at RNSH, and we are grateful for their ongoing help and support.

For example, the basic laparoscopy course (pictured below) teaches the participants both the theory and practice of safe laparoscopic procedures. Models are used to teach the principles behind appendectomy and cholecystectomy.

We are fortunate to have such a “state of the art” facility run by full-time staff on our campus. The RACS ASSET courses in NSW are all run through the SCSSC. We encourage you to contact either Jenny Ludeman (Jennifer Ludeman or Anubhav Mittal ( if you are interested in running or hosting a skills course related to your sub-speciality.