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Surgery in New Zealand: Doctor accreditation and qualifications

Medical training in New Zealand is rigorous and of a high quality. The primary qualification to practice as a doctor is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, (MbcHB), which is equivalent to an MD degree in the US. Specialist qualifications relate to the college that governs them so if a New Zealand surgeon qualified in England they will have a specialist qualification or fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) or the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) if they qualified in New Zealand or Australia.

Surgery training is undertaken at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, which is accredited by the Australian Medical Council and lasts for six years. Prior to committing to surgery in New Zealand check that the Surgeon has the initials; FRACS after his/her name which is the training/qualification recognised by the Medical Council of New Zealand.

FRACS means a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and is the recognised specialist qualification for a surgeon to perform safe, reputable and ethical surgery throughout New Zealand and Australia. It indicates that the minimum of six years of advanced surgical training has been undertaken, post basic medical degree.

You can check a doctor or a cosmetic surgeon's credentials with the Medical Council of New Zealand, the New Zealand Foundation for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery (NZFCPS) the surgeon's office, as well as the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons website. The New Zealand Foundation for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery has published A Consumer's Guide to Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in New Zealand - see their website for more details. Health Quality & Safety Commission New Zealand is the standards and performance assessment agency.

New Zealand's Plastic Surgeons haven't gained an excellent reputation for nothing - it takes around 15 years to qualify; six years spent on the general medical training, two to three years in pre-specialist training plus five years of specialist surgical training, with quite often a further two years of international training. Plastic Surgeons may be members of the New Zealand Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (NZAPS) and/or the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Professional bodies for surgeons include the New Zealand Association of General Surgeons (NZAGS) and the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association (NZOA).

Dentists study for a BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) at a reputable medical school and the basic dental degree takes five years. Most dentistry graduates enter general practice on their own or in association with others, and undertake postgraduate clinical qualifications before entering specialist practice. The Dental Council of New Zealand is the regulatory body for the dental profession, appointed by the Ministry of Health and the council lists the prescribed qualifications which dentists need in order to register as a dental specialist. The New Zealand Dental Association is the professional association for dentists in New Zealand.

Before committing to treatment compare services, treatments, costs and credentials of a handful of providers and read some patient testimonials. Check out the medical team's credentials and qualifications with the New Zealand Medical Council (all doctors and surgeons must be registered with the council) and find out all you can about a hospital and any international accreditations. Ask about mortality rates, success rates, infection rates and arrangements for follow-up care.

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