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Chapter 2: Curriculum


The Surgical Foundations curriculum is currently undergoing updates and modifications for the upcoming 2021-2022 Academic Year. Previous updates took place in April 2020. 

Guided by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, CanMEDs standards, and feedback from faculty and residents (both current and former), updates are being made to lecture topics and technical skills objectives / topics. Thank you to all program directors, program coordinators, Anatomy and CSBL staff, and residents for providing feedback and suggestions. Additional feedback will be summated and used for additional improvements following the completion of the the annual Resident Survey taking place in June 2021.

Surgical Foundations at McMaster University encourages all involved to communicate with the program director and program coordinator to ensure the success of all residents. To view 2020-2021 curriculum details click here. 2021-2022 curriculum to be posted in June 2021.

The scope of Surgical Foundations is broad and includes three separate themes:


Each surgical sub-specialty has at least one session/lecture dedicated per year. These are part of the Discipline Emergency Lecture series. Additional information on the Discipline Emergency Lectures can be found here


Surgical Foundations has a comprehensive technical skills curriculum. Using the incredible resources at MUMC's Anatomy Lab and CSBL, Surgical Foundations residents are able to hone their skills and ask questions from experienced faculty from the Department of Surgery. For a list of 2020-2021 technical skills sessions click here.


Surgical Foundations has a comprehensive research methodology curriculum, the Surgical Research Methodology (SRM) Program. The SRM program is coordinated by the Surgical Research Methodology Program Director, Dr. Forough Farrokhyar, a non-physician PhD Epidemiologist. The first year consists of a series of 12 modules covering various research design and implementation topics. In the second year, PGY2 residents plan and present a research proposal or project. 


Surgical Foundations provides formal training of the CanMEDS Roles.



Residents have interactive seminars covering basic surgical principles to augment their reading in those subjects. There are also clinically-oriented interactive seminars in the surgical subspecialties to formally address issues regarding patient care. Sessions are devoted to teaching and discussing ethical concepts. A specially designed research program gives residents a well-rounded education in evidence-based surgery.


The format of Surgical Foundations fosters communication skills. The residents need to communicate regularly with their peers as well as with the lecturers. Issues regarding communication may be addressed specifically during sessions on communication, teaching, management and patient care.


The variety of subjects addressed in Surgical Foundations is such that the residents are regularly taught by non-surgical specialists. This gives residents an appreciation for the expertise of other specialists in a multidisciplinary approach to medical care. Residents are encouraged to form study groups and collaborate while studying for the Surgical Foundations examination.


Issues of patient management are frequently discussed during clinical sessions. Residents elect a resident representative body to help manage Surgical Foundations and individual residents are required to coordinate sessions with lecturers and other residents. Techniques of time management and practice management may be addressed in specific sessions of Surgical Foundations.


Issues of health governance may be presented and discussed by leaders in the governance structure.


Residents are encouraged to keep a learning dossier. They identify their learning needs and decide how best to address those needs. They receive training in teaching skills and workshops in critical appraisal and all residents will participate in a research methods seminar series.


Residents are exposed to clinicians who are role models of professionalism. Specific sessions deal with the concepts of professionalism and residents are encouraged to discuss their own issues and experience. Royal College vignettes highlighting professional issues are available for discussion.

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