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Puzzling Things About Surgical Education

Tue, 07/17/2012 - 6:57am

When I was a surgical residency program director, I often wondered what the establishment, you know those guys who ran surgical education, were thinking. Some may remember the rule that a resident had to see at least 50 percent of the patients he operated on in the clinic or the private surgeon’s office in order to claim credit for having done the case.

There was the emphasis that still exists today on making sure every resident did research. At last, some are questioning the value of this for the average clinical surgeon. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, there is no evidence that a resident who is dragged kicking and screaming through a clinical research project or who spent a year in someone’s lab really learns anything about research or how to read and understand a research paper. Then there is the obsession with a transplant rotation, recently noted in a published paper to be a waste of time in the opinion of surgical residency program directors.

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