Message from the Chairman
Timothy J. Eberlein, M.D.
The Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine has a long and distinguished history of preparing its graduates to become leaders in academic surgery.
The primary focus of our training program is the trainee. Our residents play the primary role in how the program is managed. There are two administrative chief residents who direct much of the day-to-day management of the program. They are directly supervised by Dr. Michael Awad, who is our full-time program director and is nationally recognized for his contributions to surgical postgraduate education. Dr. Awad is assisted by three associate program directors, Drs. Amy Cyr, Ryan Fields and Bashar Safar. In addition to these superb leaders, our department has a standing residency committee — consisting of residents and committed faculty members — that oversees all aspects of the training program. Each resident is paired with a faculty advisor throughout his or her training, providing a structure that offers support and mentoring, both personally and professionally. In addition, there are semi-annual evaluations of the residents as well as of the program itself including each of the various rotations.
Annually, we hold a unique resident retreat during which recommendations are made to the program director and chairman of the Department for constructive changes in the program. In addition to ongoing changes that may be made on a routine basis, this very crucial feedback has resulted in a program that has been a leader in reducing resident work hours, fostering individual and group mentoring, introducing innovative educational approaches and fostering the professional growth of our resident leaders. Our residents, along with our faculty members, are primarily responsible for the selection of new residents joining the program.
This year, our department’s educational program is embarking on an exciting new paradigm shift. Under the leadership of Dr. Mary Klingensmith, our Vice-Chair for Education, we are leading a pilot project of several other departments’ residency programs to change the paradigm of surgical education. We will emphasize a specific curriculum with simulation in virtual training, reduction of service component, performance review and team-building. We hope to have approval of the RRC soon so that this pilot project can begin in June of 2013.
This past year, we have significantly upgraded the educational facilities in the Department of Surgery as well as our education offices and support facilities for our residency program. These newly renovated facilities are consolidated on the 9th floor of Wohl Hospital in the geographic center of our medical complex.
In order to provide the best educational opportunities for our trainees, we have a primary focus on superb patient care. Our residents have access to more than 35,000 cases annually at our three teaching hospitals — Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the John Cochran V.A. Hospital. We are also in the process of developing a community rotation at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. Resident involvement in patient care at each of these institutions results in a comprehensive experience in general surgery as well as all of the surgical specialties. Our program has been very proactive in the use of physician extenders and other endeavors that enhance the education of our trainees.
Along with our outstanding clinical program, our trainees have unparalleled research opportunities in the Department of Surgery. Currently, the Department has more than $26 million in peer-reviewed external funding, representing over 130 grants. Additionally, there is over $3 million in clinical trial funding annually. Our trainees can take advantage of laboratories in the Department of Surgery, which include every division and section in the Department. Recently, our Department has engaged in a major effort that spans each of the divisions in clinical, translational and outcomes research initiatives. We have a number of innovative programs in cost-effective care, best pathway and outcomes research. Several of our trainees have worked in our Division of Public Health Sciences. There, they can perform population health studies, epidemiology and disparities research. Several have done internal rotations related to this research activity. Our trainees may earn masters degrees in business administration, public health, population science, or clinical investigation during their training years. Finally, we have a number of trainees who have emphasized education as their scholarly pursuit and have developed expertise in educational efforts, which should prepare them for leadership roles in surgical education.
The real strength of our department is its people. Our faculty members have enormous strength and represent a truly impressive depth and breadth of research and clinical leadership. Over the last several years, the Department of Surgery faculty has produced presidents of the American Board of Colorectal Surgery, Society for Colorectal Surgery, American Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Association, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Society of Surgical Oncology, Society of Vascular Surgery, International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, American Association of Hand Surgery, American Association of Plastic Surgery, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Association of Academic Surgery, Society of University Surgeons and Society of Clinical Surgery, as well as the American Surgical Association. These leadership roles result in important contacts for fellowship and academic appointments. Yet a more important distinction, beyond the faculty’s distinguished qualifications, is their uniform enthusiasm in supporting the Department’s central mission, which is education of the future leaders of American surgery. They actively embrace their roles as mentors and role models for our trainees, and have actively supported changes to our educational program.
In summary, we continuously work to enhance the experience of each of our trainees and to improve the environment in which they train. Over the last year, we have made significant investment in recruitment of faculty, initiation of unique programs and provision of exceptional laboratory and clinical opportunities — all with the focus of enhancing the educational opportunities for the next generation of surgical leaders. We believe we have created an unparalleled environment for training in surgery. We would love to have you join our surgical family.
Timothy J. Eberlein, M.D.
Bixby Professor and Chairman
Department of Surgery