GenSurg Premiers New Pre-PD Curriculum

April 24, 2020

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The Division of General Surgery is rolling out a new professional development (PD) prep curriculum. The brainchild of two General Surgery residents, the three-year program will launch with the incoming intern class.

Drs. Sue Fu and Ashley Titan said the idea came to them while attending the AAS/SUS Surgical Investigators’ Course at the Academic Surgical Congress this past February.

“We were sitting there in this course on grant writing, and we thought how much this information would have helped us when we were applying for all these things when we were junior residents,” said Fu.

In addition to earning a Master’s of Health Policy, Fu is also researching cost disparities and access inequalities within healthcare with Dr. Lisa Knowlton and the S-SPIRE Center while Titan is exploring tissue regeneration in the Longaker Lab. Both needed to secure funding to support their salary and research during their PD time as this is not covered by the ACGME.

“There are a ton of grant writing workshops already available on campus. The problem is getting to those classes isn’t really feasible when you’re a clinical resident. That instruction will now be baked into our core course time,” said Titan.

The new curriculum also includes courses to help interns explore their interests and identify mentors. Fu and Titan worked with Assistant Residency Program Director Dr. Dana Lin to schedule these sessions on dedicated education days throughout the first three years of residency. Moving these learning objectives earlier in the residents’ surgical education has allowed Dr. Arden Morris, director of the S-SPIRE Center, to “decompress” their annual PD Bootcamp.

“[Fu and Titan] have created something comprehensive that will allow our PD residents to hit the ground running,” said Morris. “[PD Bootcamp] will still consist of four courses over the first four weeks, but the other five to eight sessions will be blended with Dr. Korndorffer’s leadership program.”

Unlike other academic surgery residency programs, Stanford Surgery’s “research time” has expanded to encompass a wider variety of opportunities allowing each resident to personalize their experience based on their individual career goals. Residents in the program have used the time to earn additional degrees; complete fellowships with Lifebox, the National Clinician Scholars Program, Biodesign, and the Center for Disease Control; and organize medical career pipeline programs for underprivileged youth.

“Surgical training is intense, and sometimes one can get a bit lost during the process and forget the original motivations for signing up in the first place. PD time allows trainees to refocus, take a breath, and remember what a blessing and a privilege it is to be a surgeon and how many different ways we have to help people,” said Dr. Tom Weiser, who is a Co-Director of PD along with Dr. Steffanie Jeffrey.

The breadth of options open to residents is one reason Weiser says personalized mentoring will still be necessary and available to all junior residents.

“Approaching this new curriculum with creativity and expansiveness to truly capture all that is available in this area will be essential for maintaining the uniqueness that is a hallmark of our program's PD experience,” said Weiser. “I hope it will make my job obsolete!”

Ashley Titan, MD

General Surgery Resident

Dr. Ashley Titan is completing two years of a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Michael Longaker researching tissue regeneration. Her PD time is supported by the American College of Surgeons Resident Research Scholarship and the Stanford Transplant and Tissue Engineering Center of Excellence Fund Fellowship.

Sue Fu, MD

General Surgery Resident

Dr. Sue Fu is currently finishing her first her of professional development resident. Her research interests include cost disparities and access inequalities within healthcare, which she is studying under the mentorship of Dr. Lisa Knowlton at the S-SPIRE Center. During her research time, she is also working towards a Masters of Health Policy from Stanford. Dr. Fu's research is funded through the VA Health Services Research and Development Fellowship and the Stanford Surgery Professional Development Resident Grant.