The Australasian Student’s Surgical Association (ASSA) is a not-for-profit association dedicated to representing the student surgical societies across Australia and New Zealand. As a public company limited by guarantee, ASSA functions to provide medical students across the region with outstanding opportunities in surgical education and professional development, in order to enhance general surgical skills and relevant surgical knowledge.
Currently, Australasia’s surgical workforce is in a challenging state. With our increasingly aging population, surgical services will need to increase by 56% in the next 15 years to meet demand (1) despite already working at maximum capacity. Furthermore, access to surgical services in rural and remote communities remains poor and the training and retention of surgeons practicing rurally is an ongoing problem for workforce planning (1). These matters are only compounded by the declining number of students intending to pursue surgical careers, whether due to perceived poor work-life balance or barriers caused by gender discrimination.
These issues among others have instigated the establishment of student surgical societies in medical schools around Australasia. Not only do these surgical societies provide education and information resources to students and professionals wanting essential surgical knowledge and skills, but also provide them with networking and leadership opportunities that leave them inspired to improve the surgical workforce for future generations.
The surgical societies of Australia and New Zealand cater to a student base of 20,000, and multiple individual societies now have membership numbers of over 1000. It is these larger societies, such as at the University of Sydney, University of Adelaide and Griffith University, that require a means to share their experience and success with newly developing surgical societies, ensuring that access to surgical teaching and events is available for all students across Australasia.
ASSA is the network that connects these surgical societies. It not only promotes information sharing and innovation, but also provides them with strong leadership and representation. ASSA provides a sense of community for surgical societies across Australia and New Zealand, ensuring that they remain supported in their local functioning, and inviting students to participate in its annual Conference, Leadership Symposium and Skills Competition.
In its fourth year of running, ASSA’s peak event, the Australasian Students’ Surgical Conference (ASSC) forms the ideal opportunity for these surgically orientated students to meet like-minded individuals and share in their passion for surgical excellence, research and innovation. This promotion of an interest in surgery is not only important for encouraging students to pursue surgical careers, but also ensures that essential surgical knowledge and skills are developed in all medical students no matter their career directions.
As it assists each surgical society to achieve their objectives, ASSA remains committed to uniting and inspiring the next generation of surgical leaders to face the challenges of surgical care in the future.