THE training period for surgeons is to be shortened in Ireland to attract more doctors to the profession.
It can take an average of 12 years before a surgeon is ready to take up a consultant post.
In recent years, the number of applications for surgical training has fallen and it is believed the length of the training is a contributory factor.
Professor Patrick Broe, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI), told the Herald: "We are looking at a strategy to revamp surgical education and training in Ireland in order to shorten the length of training where appropriate and to bring it as close to eight or nine years as possible."
He said the new training programme will be more focused on clinical and technical skills and competencies.
"Unfortunately in recent years the number of applications in surgical training has fallen and while there may be other factors that are determining this, one of these factors is definitely the duration of training.
"We want to continue to train surgeons to the highest level of expertise and skill, but in a shorter time frame," he said.
Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke said the change in training was a positive step forward.
He pointed out that the average age for a doctor to be appointed as a consultant is around 36 to 38, and there is a long training period involved.
Mr Burke previously commissioned a survey of medical students, which found that nearly two-thirds of final-year medical students (65pc) do not plan on working within the Irish hospital system one year after their graduation.
Over half of the final-year students said they planned to work abroad once they have completed their intern year, with the remaining 34pc opting to work in Irish hospitals and 15pc applying for the GP training scheme.