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Center for Health Sciences
Clerkship Guide
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Electives Syllabi


# Family Medicine
# Internal Medicine
# Emergency Medicine
# Surgery
# Pediatrics
# Psychiatry

The purpose of the Surgery elective clerkship is to provide the student additional didactic and practical clinical experience in the world of general surgery and several of its subspecialties. By the completion of this rotation, the student should have an appreciation of the similarities and differences between surgery and other medical specialties by providing fundamental skills on which to build around. The student should develop an understanding of the role of the primary care physician in the care of the patient with a surgical problem. Osteopathic principles and practices should be used wherever practical.

The student's primary responsibility during the Surgery elective rotation is to acquire the essential knowledge to make him/her an effective member of the surgical team. This may be accomplished through:

Gathering data on the patient

  • The "surgical history and physical exam"
  • Essential laboratory and ancillary testing
  • Accessing important medical intelligence related to the patient
  • Formulating your own differential


  • Presenting pertinent information to interns, resident attending, or the surgical
  • Comparing your differential to that of more experienced team member


  • Observing the clinical course of your assigned patient including
    • daily rounds
    • frequent un-scheduled visits
    • chart and information system review
  • Prepared to discuss and defend your assessment


  • Be available to help with or watch procedures or surgeries, remembering that it
    is more important to "learn" than "do" and that students who are present are
    allowed to do more than students who must be called
  • Be present and prompt for lectures, rounds, etc.
  • Be an enthusiastic, active learner
  • Read the appropriate literature and discuss it with your colleagues


  • Begin to develop the ability to synthesize multiple data points into a coherent
    explanation for the patient's signs and symptoms
  • Develop and refine a differential diagnosis with help from your supervisors

Additional topics of learning may include:

  • Abdominal masses
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal wall and groin masses
  • Breast problems
  • Fluid, electrolyte and acid base disorders
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Jaundice
  • Leg pain
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Perianal problems
  • Perioperative care
  • Post-operative complications
  • Shock
  • Skin and soft tissue lesions
  • Trauma