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University of Pittsburgh    
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Dec 08, 2023
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Surgery and Perioperative Care

Course Description

This 6-week clerkship covers the discipline of general surgery. Students are assigned to general surgery service (3 weeks) and a surgical specialty service (3 weeks). Teaching with attending physicians and residents occurs in conferences, on rounds, in the operating room, at the bedside, and in small groups.

The objectives of the clerkship are for students to:

  1. explain the etiology, differential diagnosis and management of common diseases requiring surgical care.
  2. recognize the need for routine, urgent and emergent surgical referrals.  
  3. demonstrate proficiency in common bedside procedures, and simple suturing.
  4. demonstrate proficiency in the approach to preoperative evaluation of patients for surgery.  

Additional goals include developing skills in the management of acute pain and postoperative complications. Overall the course is primarily designed to prepare students to assume the role of a primary care physician and to become familiar with the clinical presentations and management of common surgical problems.

Clinical sites include Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, UPMC Montefiore, UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Mercy, UPMC Passavant, and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Every student participates in hands-on simulation sessions at the WISER Center, where they gain experience in airway management and trauma resuscitation. The laparoscopic skills lab provides students with an opportunity to practice laparoscopic techniques on specialized simulators. During the mid-clerkship OSCE, students refine their skills in the evaluation of common surgical conditions.

Educational Methods

  • Clinical experiences
  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Simulations
  • Oral presentations
  • Conferences
  • Ward rounds
  • Standardized patient sessions (OSCE)
  • Web-based palliative care modules    


The Surgery evaluation is absed on feedback from faculty and residents (70%), a National Board subject exam (20%), and two formal surgery case presentations (Walk Rounds and Saturday Case Conference, 10%).

Grading: The clerkship is graded Honors, High Satisfactory, Satisfactory, Low Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory.

Faculty Note

Clerkship Director Gregory A. Watson, MD, is a two-time recipient of the Clarkship Preceptor of the Year Award, and was honored with the 2016 Simmons Mentorship Award in Surgery. The former Clerkship Director Peter F. Ferson, MD, is a recipient of the Kenneth E. Schuit Master Educator Award, the Sheldon Adler Award for Innovation in Medical Education and the Clerkship Preceptor of the Year Award. In addition, Drs. Kevin Garrett, Giselle Hamad, Kenneth Lee, Andrew Peitzman, and Peter Ferson are members of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.

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