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The demand for, and provision of, surgical education outside of formal training programmes has grown significantly in recent times. It is often difficult for consultants and trainees to ascertain which activities provide a high quality educational experience and are worthy of attendance. The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has therefore developed guidance and standards to act as a benchmark for high quality activity design, delivery, and review, as part of its accreditation processes.

The College defines accreditation as the process by which it verifies the quality of educational activities offered by educational organisations. RCS has developed policies around six specific forms of accreditation in order to verify that programmes, courses or events provide a high quality learning experience, and have complied with RCS criteria and standards:

  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – confirmation that an educational event complies with RCS standards, and can contribute to the continuing professional development of surgeons and allied health professionals.
  • Short Courses – confirmation that a surgical, or surgery-related course of up to five days in length, complies with RCS standards for course design and delivery.
  • Higher Education Institution Programmes – confirmation that a higher education programme, or equivalent, has complied with RCS standards for programme design and delivery.
  • Surgical Care Practitioner Programmes – confirmation that a surgical care practitioner programme has complied with the National Curriculum Framework for the Surgical Care Practitioner and with RCS standards for Higher Education programme design and delivery.
  • Fellowship Post - confirmation that a fellowship post has met the standards as defined by the National Surgical Fellowship Scheme and is eligible for inclusion on the National Surgical Fellowship Register.
  • Surgical Education Centre Accreditation - an award of excellence from the College in recognition of outstanding surgery-related educational provision by a Surgical Education Centre.

The aims of RCS accreditation activities are to:

  • provide strong leadership and support for surgeons in all matters relating to their surgical practice, throughout their surgical careers.
  • work in partnership with the providers of surgical education to ensure the highest standards of education in surgery are met.
  • provide assurance that educational activities are developed and delivered to the standards expected by the College.
  • ensure that the content of an educational activity is relevant to its target audience and the development of competent surgeons.
  • ensure that educational activities are well constructed with appropriate evaluation to ensure constructive improvement.
  • encourage the appropriate evaluation of educational activities.
  • assist surgeons in justifying attendance and/or participation in scientific and educational events.

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