The surgical pathway is designed to extend the medical knowledge base of students choosing surgery as a career, with a specific emphasis on internship readiness, however, it is also appropriate to students who are interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of the multiple physiological, medical, and psychological aspects of surgical patients.

The practice of general surgery can include a broad based surgical practice but it can also serve as the foundation for fellowships in: Colon and Rectal Surgery, Endocrine Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Trauma Surgery, Transplant Surgery and Vascular Surgery.

For more information, take a look at “So You Want to Be a Surgeon” at the ACOS.org website. http://www.facs.org/residencysearch/

Students who are likely to be interested in this pathway:

  • Enjoy working as a member of a team, feel comfortable in performing as leader of the team,  and look forward to opportunities to go to the operating room
  • Enjoy three-dimensional imagery and anatomy
  • Enjoy physical, tangible work in manipulating a patient’s condition to improve their health and relish observing the graphic results from one’s work
  • Feel comfortable in making quick decisions and comfortable with adapting quickly to unpredictable situations

Competency-Based Learning Objectives

Medical Knowledge

Patient Assessment:

A.    Perform history and physical appropriate for age, sex and clinical problem.
B.    Identify factors that increase preoperative risk with a specific emphasis in   cardiopulmonary health and disease
C.    Identify and outline age appropriate initial evaluations for common surgical complications
D.    Identify treatment and management standards of care for fever and surgical infections, wound management, stroke and transient ischemic attack, coagulation and anticoagulation
E.    Manage disease specific fluid/electrolyte requirements and interpret acid/base balance

Basic Diagnostic Tests
A.    Assess basic diagnostic tests and radiographs including the Interpretation of normal and abnormal biochemical and hematologic tests
B.    Interpret normal and common abnormal findings of abdomen, chest and skeletal radiographs.
C.    Interpret a standard 12-lead ECG and identify common abnormalities

Patient Care

1.    Airway Management

A.    Assess the adequacy of the airway,
B.    Secure oropharyngeal control of the airway,
C.    Perform orotracheal intubation

2.    Surgical and Technical Skills

A.    Practice universal precautions routinely
B.    Use proper techniques for skin preparation and draping of the incision site
C.    Administer a local anesthetic
D.    Assess peripheral blood flow using a handheld Doppler


A.    Demonstrate altruism in patient care
B.    Respect all individuals
C.    Use discretion in private and public communications
D.    Accept feedback appropriately and use it effectively for self-learning and improvement
E.    Accept responsibility for one’s actions
F.    Demonstrate an awareness of one’s own limitations
G.    Know when and where to obtain help for professional and personal issues
H.    Describe the principles of informed consent
I.    Be illegal/illicit substance free

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

A.    Listen actively with cultural, ethnic, gender, racial and religious sensitivity; approach all patient encounters conveying sensitivity, compassion, and concern
B.    Communicate effectively with patients, families, and professional associates
C.    Discuss medical errors or professional mistakes honestly and openly in ways that promote learning
D.    Appreciate and be able to discuss sensitive issues with patients including: death and dying, health maintenance and disease prevention, substance abuse

Practice-based Learning and Improvement

A.    Demonstrate self-directed and lifelong learning skills
B.    Demonstrate ability to access, analyze and use the scientific literature and discuss the principles of evidence-based practice.

Systems-based Practice

A.  Describe the principles of patient safety and patient safety practices
B. Understand the concept of risk management and appropriate documentation of the medical record