Education Overview

The Department is completely dedicated to the education of the residents in the program. To that end, the Department funds a full-time PhD Educator whose primary job is to oversee the educational programs in the department and ensure that we are in compliance with mandates and recommendations from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Board of Surgery (ABS) and are up to date on national guidelines and best practices. The input of our educational experts is invaluable.

Our education curriculum has been completely overhauled to adopt a modern approach to surgical education. A brand-new Resident Education Committee was formed to develop and oversee an entirely virtual and interactive online curriculum. The curriculum was designed to be resident-led and to employ a wide range of educational formats to enrich the learning experience.

Each week has an assigned surgical topic around which all the week’s sessions are focused. The curriculum includes classic didactics such as recommended book chapters and question banks for residents to complete at their convenience throughout the week. The rest of the curriculum is conducted online through novel video platforms to encourage participation. The sessions are curated and moderated by one of the Senior Residents. Quarterly journal club reviews both landmark and contemporary literature on important surgical principles and treatments. Residents critically analyze the papers and present their findings to their colleagues. Topic Discussion features 6 mini-lectures on the topic ranging from basic anatomy to key operative steps and postoperative complications, which encourages participation at every level of residency. A faculty Lecture is given weekly and meant to provide an expert opinion on the topic. A Kill the ABSITE curriculum has been recently developed which meets monthly to cover high yield topics that are covered not only on the ABSITE, but the qualifying examination of the ABS. Question Session is an hour-long multiple-choice question and answer period with the Junior Residents. Questions from the ABS SCORE curriculum are answered live, and emphasize not only fund of knowledge but teach valuable test-taking skills to the younger residents. The Senior Residents participate in Oral Boards prep during this session, and work through practice scenarios in small numbers directly with attending surgeon facilitators. Lastly, all levels join in the departmental Morbidity and Mortality conference and Grand Rounds hosted weekly. The variety and consistency of the educational sessions have been well-received by residents and faculty alike.

Residents in the Department of Surgery have 24-hour access to a state-of-the-art educational facilities that provides the ideal environment to teach fundamental and advanced technical skills. The Center has three facilities on campus along with the equipment needed to provide a comprehensive approach to surgical education.

Our inanimate facility is comprised of a Technical Skills Laboratory, a Simulation Suite and a virtual OR. The laboratory is equipped with eight tables and is capable of handling approximately 28 trainees at a time. The Simulation Suite houses laparoscopic and endoscopic simulators, and several partial task trainers. Formal sessions on skills such as intubation, line placement, vascular and bowel anastomoses, and laparoscopic suturing are scheduled each year for the residents. The entire facility is supported by a state-of-the-art audio-visual system.

The Skills Center is accredited as a Level 1 Educational Institute by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and follows the standardized national skills curriculum that was developed by the ACS along with the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS) and the Association for Surgical Education (ASE). In addition, we are accredited by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) as a training and testing center for Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS), Fundamentals of Endoscopic Surgery (FES) and Fundamentals of the Use of Energy (FUSE). What this means is that the FLS and FES trainers used at our facility are the same ones that residents will use on the day of their exams. Our residents are also able to complete the testing on site, rather than traveling to a test center.

Our curriculum includes an “Intern Boot Camp” where incoming PGY 1 residents learn and practice all of the essential skills needed to begin caring for patients on the wards and in the operating room. Moving into the PGY 2 year and beyond, residents build on this foundation and scaffold their learning by adding skills and procedures with increasing complexity. PGY 2-5 residents participate in weekly labs during educational protected time on Friday mornings that encompass training modules specific to each surgical discipline.

Our animate facility is used to teach and practice open and laparoscopic skills using live, intubated pigs. This is comprised of five surgery rooms with video-teleconferencing capability. The surgery rooms are used primarily for animal labs and the conference room is used extensively for videoconferencing and educational purposes.

The gem of the program is the Fresh Tissue Dissection Lab which is in the morgue of the old Los Angeles General Medical Center. It has three dissection rooms and 10 crypts to hold 30 cadavers. Residents have daily access to cadavers and can practice common bedside procedures and operations on human tissue. This is made even more realistic with the use of our unique perfusion system which simulates active venous or arterial bleeding. See the Surgical Skills Simulation and Education Center link for more information.

We are accredited by the ACS Committee on Trauma (COT) to teach Advanced Surgical Skills Exposure in Trauma (ASSET), Basic Endovascular Skills for Trauma (BEST), ATLS, and Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS). In addition, we offer the opportunity to participate in the ATLS Instructor course and become certified as ATLS Instructors. Lastly, residents participate in the Fundamentals of Critical Care Medicine (FCCM) course offered by the Society of Critical Care Medicine as well as a comprehensive yearly robotics curriculum. As a result of completing the robotics curriculum, residents of our program graduate with their robotics certification.