The biggest gathering of regional surgeons in Australia is about to land in Ballarat, with hopes it could encourage more medical trainees to move to remote areas.
More than 150 surgeons from across regional Australia are set converge on Ballarat for the Provincial Surgeons Australia (PSA) conference from Friday.
Scientific convener Bruce Stewart said the first PSA weekend 55 years ago grew out of regional surgeons wanting to interact with each other more, despite being separated by thousands of kilometres.
While many surgeons in large regional cities have a sub-specialty - such as breast or colorectal procedures - doctors in remote areas must be competent in different types of surgery.
"In Ballarat now, we have basically pretty much all the facilities available to a comparable surgeon in Melbourne or Sydney," Mr Stewart said. "But that's not necessarily the case in the more remote regional centres. So this conference is focused on those surgeons, who may not have all the support structures we've got here.
"We've got experts in each area to give a talk to the generalist (surgeons) about modern advances, what they should be doing and not doing in each specialty."
He noted that places like Horsham really struggle to recruit surgeons, but the conference can introduce trainee doctors to potential mentors in remote areas, which could encourage them to move to the bush.
On Friday, a laparoscopic simulation workshop with live surgery will be happening in the Ballarat Base Hospital, with the procedure projected onto a screen for more than 60 surgeons and health practitioners to watch.
Dr Carolyn Vasey said that because surgery is a "technical art", being able to showcase cutting edge techniques live is an ideal way for a large number of doctors to learn.
"You can often go to conferences where people use Powerpoint presentation," she said. "But there's nothing quite like watching someone else do (a procedure). And having the ability to interact with surgeons at the same time, it's a really novel, educationally-appropriate way to teach techniques."
Both Dr Vasey and Mr Stewart said surgeon were now more willing to move to regional areas, for both the lifestyle advantages and the lack of travel time to work and patients.
"I enjoy living here, in terms of connection to community and I wanted my kids to grow up in regional Australia," Dr Vasey said.
"But Ballarat also stood out to me because the cohesive nature of the medical community.
"The co-location of the two hospitals is a key benefit for patients and doctors alike, because everyone's onsite and it allows us to share personnel and equipment."
Held at the Mercure Hotel and Convention Centre, the conference will award the Jim Pryor Begonia Prize for surgical innovation. The award is named in honour of the late Ballarat surgeon who helped to found the PSA and was the first Fellow from Royal Australian College of Surgeons based in regional Victoria.