Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Surgery

Curriculum Overview

Curriculum is dynamic rather than stagnant because although the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requires that accredited residency programs provide standardized exposure to common topics, skills, procedures, and competencies, we here in the Department of Surgery respect that when it comes to learning, one size does not fit all. Residents arrive to a residency program with unique backgrounds, experiences, skill sets, strengths and weaknesses. Our system is set up so residents work with a designated faculty member referred to as the Team Education Coordinator (TEC) at the start of each clinical rotation to determine their learning needs, negotiate learning objectives, and outline "tailored" instruction and practice needs for each resident. Each resident is also paired with a mentor at the start of the program who guides residents as they develop professional and personal goals, reviews performance evaluation data from faculty members received each six months and helps translate any negative feedback into constructive challenges. This one-on-one relationship keeps residents on target to ensure each resident's "big picture" goals don't get lost in the day to day bustle of a resident's life.

Patient ownership is the foundation of our clinical curriculum. Longitudinal relationships (pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative) with patients enable residents to hone important communication and interpersonal skills, trust building, and a sense of personal responsibility. Developing skills in diagnostic decision making and learning how to determine who needs an operation, and if so, what type and when is learned through supervised autonomy in the outpatient and inpatient settings. Participating intra-operatively with your patient at whatever level of involvement is appropriate does not necessarily depend on the post graduate year, but rather resident readiness. Our clinical curriculum, structured as apprenticeships (one to one or two faculty ratio), small teams, and night float formats, provides early and ongoing opportunities in clinical problem solving and technical skill development. Seeing a patient post operatively exposes the results of a surgical intervention, and allows a resident to learn what it was like for the patient during the immediate post operative period, what health care support systems were needed, and how the operative experience affected the patient's emotional and physical well being. Throughout the curriculum residents are encouraged to reflect on what they learned from a patient and how they can improve or have served that patient better.

Housestaff Research Portal

Feinberg has the infrastructure and resources to assist McGaw trainees interested in conducting scientific research. Visit our Housestaff Research Portal to learn more.