Overview

The surgery clerkship is a mandatory eight-week course that trains third-year medical students in surgical management of adults and pediatric diseases. Students rotate on a general surgery service for four weeks and on two surgery specialty services for two weeks each.

The following questions underlie the educational objectives:

  • How does one appropriately evaluate common surgical problems?
  • How do surgeons make interventional decisions and prioritize the treatment options?
  • How does one weigh the risks and benefits of the treatment options?
  • How are postoperative outcomes assessed?

Students are expected to participate in the evaluation of patients and the decision-making process. Participation on the clinical teams will provide an opportunity to:

  • Identify and solve problems.
  • Demonstrate initiative and professional behavior.
  • Develop interviewing and physical diagnosis skills.
  • Enhance work habits and interpersonal skills.
  • Develop collaborative relationships with healthcare team members, patients, and families.

Curriculum

GS Clerkship activities include skill sessions on foley insertion, nasogastric (NG) tube placement, and suturing and knot tying. Students are required to attend weekly Surgery Conferences and didactic seminars which are held Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Materials are to be reviewed prior to attending didactic seminars, as these are intended to be interactive with case scenarios, questions, and answers. All orientation materials, lecture materials, service-specific information, and clerkship requirements can be found on the VCU School of Medicine e-Curriculum Portal.

Students will have the opportunity to rotate on the following services:

General Surgery Services: Faculty Liaison:
Bariatric & GI Surgery Dr. Jennifer Salluzzo
Colon & Rectal Surgery Dr. Emily Rivet
Acute Care Surgical Services (Trauma/ Emergency Surgery) Dr. Alan Rossi
Surgical Oncology Dr. Brian Kaplan
General Surgery (VAMC) Dr. Jeannie Rivers
Pediatric Surgery Dr. Laura Boomer
Transplant Surgery Dr. Amit Sharma
   
Subspecialty Surgery Services: Faculty Liaison:
Cardiothoracic Surgery (MCVH) Dr. Patricia Nicolato
Cardiothoracic Surgery (VAMC) Dr. Gundars Katlaps
Neurosurgery (MCVH) Dr. R. Scott Graham
Neurosurgery (VAMC) Dr. Kathryn Holloway
Plastic Surgery Dr. Daniel Luppens
Urology (MCVH) Dr. J. Tyler Roseman
Urology (VAMC) Dr. J. Tyler Roseman
Vascular Surgery (MCVH) Dr. Francisco Albuquerque
Vascular Surgery (VAMC) Dr. Michael Amendola
Orthopaedic Surgery Dr. Jibanananda Satpathy
Otolaryngology Dr. Raj Petersson
Ophthalmology Dr. Vikram Brar

Honors Advice

We would like to congratulate all students on their grade of honors on the Department of Surgery M3 Clerkship and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. In order to help us in our continuous efforts to improve the program, we asked our honor students what advice they had for future students so that they too may succeed on the rotation.

The Importance of the Team

Be a team player. In surgery, more than any other rotation, I noticed that what each of us did personally affected the way they thought of the entire team. Luckily, I had a good team. Regardless, help out your colleagues and make them look good. Get there a few minutes earlier than you're expected to in order to run the list and make sure you have pre-rounded or talked to nurses to find out how your patients did overnight. This last bit of advice may sound a little funny, but sometimes it's best to stay out of the way. The interns and residents are so busy that they don't want to hear every little thing you do, even if it concerns your patients. I'm not saying to hide information about your patients, but try to be autonomous and help out your patients, then report to the intern information that is important for them to know about the patient. 

Prepare for Success

Read about your surgeries the day before; take notes if you have to. Read about your patients; know their previous surgical history, allergies, meds, and any conditions that could adversely affect their recovery. Always smile, no matter what, no matter how long you've been there. Don't complain and don't be negative, a positive team member goes a long way, whereas a negative person can ruin the entire experience for everyone. Be on time, be prepared, be friendly. Practice your knots, as a third year you will have the opportunity to suture and tie and that's your chance to shine. Also, know your anatomy; be ready to get asked about landmarks and structures. Read Access Surgery before the case, read NMS before the lectures, and study while you can. Take a few hours each week to stay sane and go to the gym or cook or whatever. And have fun!!!

Trust

I think the most important part of doing well in the surgery clerkship is paying attention to your team's needs and anticipating what needs to be done. It's great if you know the answers to all the questions your attending asks you, but first and foremost you need to work well with your team and be helpful. You may feel a lot of the work you do goes unnoticed, but if you show that you are self-sufficient, the residents will take notice and appreciate it. A lot of this has to do with how well you work with your classmates. I was lucky to have a great team at the VA and we really communicated well with each other and kept egos out of the way. Because we worked well together, there were fewer problems during pre-rounding and rounding. This made life a little easier for the residents and they grew to trust us and appreciate our help. There is no better feeling as an M3 to earn a resident or attending's trust, even if it's just to handle minor situations. 

Contact Us

Gretchen Aquilina, D.O.
M3 Clerkship Director
gretchen.aquilina@vcuhealth.org

Santosh Kale, M.D.
Associate Director
santosh.kale@vcuhealth.org

Laura Porter
Clerkship Administrator
(804) 827-1032
laura.porter@vcuhealth.org

Office location:
West Hospital
16th Floor, East Wing

Mailing address
Box 980645
Richmond, Virginia 23298-0443

Phone: (804) 827-1032
Fax: (804) 828-5595