The fellowship is undertaken at the Royal Children’s Hospital – a large centre providing secondary care to the population of Melbourne and tertiary services to the state of Victoria, Tasmania, southern New South Wales and further. The hospital which relocated in 2011 to a purpose built, specialised children’s facility, employs 4000 staff and is a designated, state-wide, major trauma centre.
The plastic and maxillofacial department, directed by Professor Chris Coombs is comprised of 17 consultants working across three clinical divisions – cleft and craniofacial surgery, hand, microvascular and general paediatric plastic surgery, and oral and maxillofacial surgery. Each division has a fellow, registrar, and clinical nurse consultant. A single resident serves the department.
The 12-month hand and microsurgery post is principally directed toward complex congenital reconstruction, trauma, cerebral palsy, obstetric brachial plexus palsy, and paediatric microsurgery, with additional work undertaken in the areas of facial palsy and sarcoma surgery. The fellowship is supervised and coordinated by Prof Christopher Coombs, and the fellow will work alongside Associate Professor Bruce Johnson, Mr David McCombe, Miss Sian Fairbank, and Mr Damon Thomas.
Weekly clinical commitments include an independent clinic and operating list, several supervised operating lists and supervised, multidisciplinary clinics to which all consultants attend. The fellow is expected to supervise a registrar and resident and to provide support to the on-call service.
The fellow also takes part in educational activities of the department (such as contributing to journal clubs and the weekly audit and surgical planning meeting) and is expected to explore a research interest during the placement which would lead to a peer reviewed publication. Additional opportunities are available to assist consultants in their private hand surgery practices.
I found the fellowship provided a comprehensive training in some of the less frequently encountered areas of plastic surgery. The institution is highly regarded both domestically and internationally and the level of care provided by the many world-renowned surgeons is excellent. All surgeons are welcoming, professional, personable, and interested in sharing skills and expertise.
The fellowship will form a sound foundation for a career in children’s plastic surgery. The department also offers a cleft and craniofacial fellowship.