Lynt Johnson, MD, Chair
The Department of Surgery’s program has undergone continuous revision to ensure maximal contact between student and teacher and is designed to give the student a broad view of the wide scope of surgery. Emphasis is placed on the correlation of basic anatomical and physiological alterations produced by disease with rational treatment designed to definitively correct pathophysiologic changes. The entire program stresses the scientific approach to general and specific problem solving as it relates to surgical aspects of disease and therapy.
Instruction courses are offered throughout all four years in cooperation with basic science departments and other clinical disciplines. In the first two years, special attention is given to the correlation of pathologic changes as they relate to symptomatology and physiologic abnormalities, with gradual introduction to correction methods of these problems. As part of the interdisciplinary course Clinical Problem Solving, the second-year emphasis is on basic clinical orientation and principles of physical diagnosis. Audio-visual aids and anatomical models augment instruction in the introduction to physical diagnosis.
During the third year, students further develop their patient relationship skills in a hospital setting as part of small groups under the guidance of residents and faculty. Increasing responsibility for patient care is given as the student demonstrates an ability to accurately relate to the patients and their care.
Clerkship rotations at a number of hospitals afford the student balanced exposure to a wide variety of surgical conditions and patient populations. The department adheres to the principle that a surgeon is first a total physician and surgery is therefore an extension of basic medical care, rather than an isolated discipline; thus, emphasis is placed on total patient care principles. At this point, broad aspects of information gathering and decision making enable students to arrive at a rational approach to treating individual patients’ illnesses. The student also is introduced to principles of aseptic technique and operative and nonoperative care of the surgical patient. Heavy emphasis is placed on learning in the practical environment of the clinic, hospital ward, and operating room under the close supervision of senior surgical team members. To provide guidance in basic surgical principles and common diseases, a concentrated series of lectures and conferences are designed for third-year students in surgical principles, general surgery, and surgical specialties.
By the end of this period, the student has been provided the opportunity to establish a firm foundation in the principles of surgical care.
During the fourth year, the student is assigned to one of several hospitals where she or he has the opportunity to achieve increased responsibility for surgical patient care. As experience and learning evolve beyond the foundation the student has received, emphasis is placed on the student’s growth and development of his or her abilities, and a close relationship with faculty members is possible. Additionally, a variety of elective courses are available with surgical faculty members practicing at the Georgetown University Hospital, its affiliated hospitals, and in the community. Students also may choose extramural electives in consultation with the department chairman and subject to his approval.
The Department of Surgery encourages students to participate in and develop experimental projects with faculty members, which may involve clinical research or research in the department’s experimental laboratories. Time set aside for electives in the curriculum may be used for this purpose. The wide scope of research performed by the surgical faculty provides an opportunity for student participation under faculty supervision.