How We Did It: Implementing a Trainee-Focused Surgical Research Curriculum and Infrastructure

J Surg Educ. 2022 Jan-Feb;79(1):35-39. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2021.07.010. Epub 2021 Aug 2.


Objective: To describe the implementation of a department-wide research curriculum and infrastructure created to promote academic collaboration and productivity, particularly amongst trainees and junior investigators involved in basic, translational, clinical, quality, or education research.

Design: Description of UT Southwestern Medical Center's (UTSW) surgical research resources and infrastructure and the development of a didactic curriculum focused on research methods, writing skills, and optimizing academic time and effort.

Setting: The collaboration was initiated by UTSW Department of Surgery residents who were on dedicated research time (DRT) and grew to include trainees and faculty at all levels of the institution. Guest lecturers from institutions around the country were incorporated via virtual meeting platforms.

Participants: Medical students, residents, and clinical and research faculty from the Department of Surgery were invited to attend research meetings, didactics, and the guest-lecture series. Additionally, all groups were given access to shared resources and encouraged to share their own work.

Results: A robust set of resources including data analysis tools, manuscript and grant writing templates, funding opportunities, and a comprehensive list of surgical conferences was created and made accessible to UTSW Surgery team members. Moreover, a curriculum of lectures covering a broad variety of topics for all types of research was created and has thus far reached an audience of over 40 UTSW Surgery trainees and staff.

Conclusions: A comprehensive set of lectures and resources targeted toward facilitating surgical research was designed and implemented at one of the largest surgical training programs in the country. This effort represents a low-cost, feasible, and accessible way to improve academic productivity and enhance the training of surgeon-scientists and can serve as a blueprint for other institutions around the country.

Keywords: didactics; research; surgical education; virtual curriculum; young investigators.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*