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Core Clerkship in Surgery

Core Clerkship in Surgery
Core Clerkship in Surgery
Core Clerkship in Surgery
Core Clerkship in Surgery
Core Clerkship in Surgery
Core Clerkship in Surgery

This clerkship introduces students to the discipline of general surgery. Following three days of PRECEDE instruction, students rotate through four weeks of one general surgery service. The remaining four weeks consist of three to four one-week surgical subspecialties rotations. Students can choose from the following surgical subspecialties: cardiac, vascular, thoracic, transplant, plastics, urology, OLHN, neurosurgery and orthopaedics. Instruction occurs through direct patient contact, operating room and bedside teaching, and service conferences. Students receive weekly lectures and complete labs during their clerkship. 

PRECEDE Overview

The Surgery PRECEDE (Pre-Clerkship Education Exercises) is designed to give students the knowledge needed to begin a clinical clerkship in general surgery. During these first three days, students will:

  • have team-based learning sessions focusing on operating room techniques and sterility, surgical ethics and trauma simulation. 
  • be introduced to basic radiologic studies, surgical nutrition and pain management.
  • participate in labs including basic knot-tying and suturing. 
  • participate in a workshop to practice clinical skills by performing a physical exam on a surgical patient via a PETA. 

Toward the end of the clerkship, students will return for a multidisciplinary tumor board session. This TBL exercise is designed for students to work as a team to provide a multidisciplinary care of common cancers. 

Learning Objectives


  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of common surgical problems.
  • Understand the indications for, and the limitations of, essential diagnostic studies used to evaluate patients with surgical problems.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of surgical treatments and alternatives to surgical treatment.
  • Become familiar with various surgical procedures and know their expected outcomes and complications.
  • Develop cost/risk/benefit appreciation as it applies to patient care.
  • Be familiar with action, dosage and use of common pharmacologic agents used in surgery (analgesics, antibiotics, anticoagulants, sedatives).


  • Evaluate and assess patients with surgical diseases.
  • Understand and possibly perform various basic procedures, such as:
    • venipuncture
    • placement of intravenous catheter
    • insertion of urethral (Foley) catheter
    • insertion of nasogastric tube
    • removal of surgical drains
    • closure of surgical incisions
    • removal of suture/staples
    • dressing changes
  • Understand how to and possible apply specific protocol in the operating room (scrubbing, gowning, gloving, prepping and draping).
  • Interpret common laboratory tests (CBC, electrolytes, blood gases, urinalysis, coags).
  • Interpret common radiologic tests (CXR, KUB, UGI, BE, bone, nuclear tests, US, CT).
  • Understand how to obtain and interpret EKG.


  • Acquire a caring and sympathetic attitude appropriate for dealing with patients with surgical illnesses.
  • Acquire an appreciation for the collegial interaction necessary to work on the surgical service, in the OR, etc.
  • Realize the scope of responsibility you assume as the surgeon and to that of the family and referring physicians.
  • Demonstrate an openness to recognize limitations by using resources referrals and consultation with supervising preceptors or others when appropriate.
  • Demonstrate an openness to receive constructive criticism.
  • Perform duties within a professional comportment encompassing such areas as attendance, dress code and general demeanor.
  • Respect patient privacy information.

Clerkship Director

Bethany Sacks, M.D., M.Ed.

Bethany Sacks, M.D., M.Ed.
Associate Professor of Surgery
Surgery Clerkship and Curriculum Surgical Director

Time Commitment and Clerkship Length

This clerkship runs for eight weeks.

Clinical Sites for this Clerkship

More on Surgery

Learn more about the medical student/clerkship program in Surgery.

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