Dr Christopher Smith is a Laparoscopic Fellow with the Sydney West Advanced Pelvic Surgery Unit, which covers several public and private hospitals in Western Sydney.
Why did you decide on the specialty?
Obstetrics and gynaecology was never on the radar until my elective placement in the third year of medical school. While I was initially enticed by the inherent charms of an established private practice on Sydney’s North Shore, it was the fast-paced and unpredictable nature of obstetrics and gynaecology that was most appealing. With experience, I also gained an appreciation for the diversity of clinical and surgical opportunities within the specialty.
What do you love about the training program?
One of the most rewarding aspects of the training program is the opportunity to pursue areas of interest in the specialty. Having completed my general obstetrics and gynaecology training, I have been fortunate this year to secure a Laparoscopic Fellowship through the Sydney West Advanced Pelvic Surgery Unit. The fellowship has offered incredible exposure to advanced endoscopic surgical techniques with an emphasis on laparoscopic and hysteroscopic gynaecological procedures.
What are the main challenges?
An ongoing challenge is gaining adequate surgical exposure during training. The major concern is that trainees will not have the skill set or confidence to independently perform advanced gynaecological procedures. This year, as a laparoscopic fellow, I have been a facilitator at both live operating and simulation workshops, which aim to improve standards of endoscopic surgery among trainees.
How much is training costing you (including exams, books etc)?
My annual training fee was about $1500,* with a little extra required for compulsory courses. My membership written exam cost $850, while the membership oral exam cost just over $1600 (excluding travel expenses). There are always a few must-have books in the lead-up to the exam, but most resources can be obtained online.
What’s next for you?
In the short term, I will head to the United States in October as part of an Australasian Gynaecological Endoscopy and Surgery Travelling Fellowship to acquire hands-on experience with robotic technology. My supervisor will be Dr Arnold Advincula, medical director of the Gynecologic Robotic Surgery Program at the Florida Hospital Global Robotics Institute. The long-term plan is to complete my 2-year laparoscopic fellowship, then return to Sydney’s North Shore to start private practice in obstetrics and gynaecology while maintaining a strong interest in minimally invasive surgery.
* The annual training fee is now $1680
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