Instilling Resiliency in Surgical Education: The Benefits of Longitudinal Medical Student Learning

J Surg Res. 2021 Nov:267:512-515. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2021.05.021. Epub 2021 Jul 10.


The longitudinal clerkship has been recognized as an innovative, unique model in medical education that demonstrates significantly higher student and preceptor satisfaction with comparable long-term outcomes like performance on standardized examinations. At the center of this model is the student-preceptor relationship, which promotes effective student-directed learning and personal and professional relationships with established faculty mentors. The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has two clerkships models: a traditional or "block" model consisting of 2-month sequential clinical rotations in seven core clerkships, and a longitudinal model that integrates parallel out-patient clinical experiences over the entire year with one-on-one faculty preceptors from each core discipline with focused 2-week intensive inpatient rotations. In the setting of the Covid-19 pandemic beginning in Spring of 2020, this arrangement allowed for a natural experiment to evaluate the resiliency of the respective models in the face of unprecedented disruptions in education and healthcare delivery. As described in this perspective, both clerkships required rapid pivots; however, students enrolled in the longitudinal clerkship were more likely to develop stronger relationships with surgical faculty and felt more prepared for making career choices. Medical school curricula may benefit from incorporating longitudinal components, as this model provided flexibility and fostered greater faculty-student mentorship in the setting of disruption to medical education.

Keywords: Covid-19 pandemic; Longitudinal clerkships; Medical school; Mentorship; Surgical education.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • California
  • Clinical Clerkship / organization & administration*
  • Education, Medical* / organization & administration
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Students, Medical*