Summary of occupation
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons repair and reconstruct muscle and tissue injuries to restore form, function and appearance. They can repair cleft lips and palates and other congenital defects, provide skin grafting and reconstruction for burns and cancer removals, and reshape bones and insert implants to rebuild the skull and facial structures.
They can repair body parts damaged by trauma, illness or malformation. They may also perform cosmetic surgery to improve aesthetic appearance.
There are over 40 plastic and reconstructive surgeons in Western Australia, most of whom work in the Perth metropolitan area.
Performs surgery to repair and reconstruct muscle and tissue injuries and congenital deformities. Registration or licensing is required.
A plastic and reconstructive surgeon needs:
- excellent manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination
- to maintain concentration for long periods
- discretion and respect for patient confidentiality
- to be able to work well under pressure
- to be confident and a strong decision maker
- good communication skills to liaise with other physicians and provide clear information to patients.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons work in private consultation practices or public hospitals, or both. They may also supervise and teach medical students. They may be required to work long shifts, odd hours and weekends. They may also be required to be on-call in case of an emergency.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons operate in completely sterile theatre rooms and must wear protective clothing.
On average, plastic and reconstructive surgeons can expect to earn between $2 885 and $7 692 per week ($150 000 and $400 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons use a range of specialised surgical instruments while operating on patients, such as tissue forceps, scalpels, tenotomy scissors, dermatomes, saws and bone drills. They may also use equipment designed for keyhole surgery, allowing them to operate inside a patient without the need for a large incision. They must wear sterile surgical attire while operating.
To become a plastic and reconstructive surgeon you must first become a qualified medical doctor and then specialise in plastic and reconstructive surgery.
In Western Australia, postgraduate courses in medicine are offered by the University of Notre Dame and the University of Western Australia. These degrees usually take four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview at your chosen institution. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
On completion of the postgraduate medical degree, you must work in the public hospital system for two years (internship and residency). To then specialise in plastic and reconstructive surgery, you must register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and undergo a training program at accredited hospitals, and ultimately receive fellowship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.