Medical Student Education


The Department of Surgery provides instruction for medical students throughout their four years of training. Most of the departments effort is directed at third- and fourth-year students in the form of a general surgery clerkship and surgical selectives/electives, although some didactic teaching is also provided for the first- and second-year students through clinical correlations lectures.

The cornerstone of the student education program is the eight-week third-year clerkship (repeated six times per year to encompass the entire third-year class), which is offered at three sites (Stony Brook University Hospital, Winthrop-University Hospital, and the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center), as well as surgical sub-internships and electives for the fourth-year class in the various surgical subspecialties.

Third Year

The third-year surgery clerkship is designed to provide the student with a broad experience in the evaluation and treatment of patients with surgical disease across all of the general surgical disciplines via his/her assignment to a specific surgical team of residents and attending physicians. These rotations are geared to emphasize direct patient contact, including all phases of evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. Students are specifically expected to: 1) participate in daily patient care until clinic follow-up, 2) accept personal responsibility as a physician for the care of their patients, acting always under attending and resident supervision, 3) obtain didactic learning through regular attendance of student lectures and department-wide educational activities, and 4) attend surgical skills labs geared to teach basic surgical technique (e.g., Surgical Skills Center for suturing and simulation training).

The formative and summative evaluation of students includes weekly meetings with the clerkship director at which regular feedback to the students is provided, a mid-point quiz, an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE; an assessment method based on objective testing and direct observation of student performance during planned clinical encounters), and a clinical evaluation by the attending and resident physicians with whom the student has had substantial contact. At the conclusion of the general surgery clerkship, the student also takes a problem-based learning (PBL)-formatted oral examination and a standardized National Board examination, graded on a standardized national curve.

Fourth Year

There are a number of course offerings in the fourth year which include a sub-internship rotation, surgical elective rotations, and the Advanced Clinical Experience (ACE) Course. The department's fourth-year programs encourage students interested in choosing a career in surgery, and enable them to develop their skills and knowledge in surgical problem solving and apply their acquired knowledge in evaluating patients with surgical disease. Students have broad exposure to operative technique and an opportunity to develop technical skills.

The sub-internship in surgery allows the senior medical student to function as a primary responsible physician working under the close supervision of the surgical team, and to learn valuable skills necessary to prepare for a career in surgery. Surgical electives allow fourth-year students the opportunity to work closely with attending physicians in surgical sub-specialties in which the student may have interest but no previous exposure. The ACE course (offered only in the second half of the year) is mandatory for fourth-year students and for those interested in surgery. This course provides an experience in which to hone their skills and/or acquire new skills prior to the start of internship.

Surgical sub-internships and electives are available for visiting students, as well.

For more information about our medical student education program, please contact Deborah Thornton, education coordinator.