Surgery Websites
Resident Research »  Research Pathways »  Research Pathways »  Surgical Education

Surgical Education

The underlying assumption by many is that having been taught for so long one naturally knows how to teach. However, most surgeons readily identify that they have little knowledge about how to teach. This deficit coupled with the demands to educate competent surgeons in shorter times requires that we study how we educate effectively in surgery. This forms the heart of Surgical Education Research.

Educational research spans a wide range of endeavors including learner motivation, instructional strategies, cognition and assessment. To conduct this research in UCSF we have a team of surgical education researchers, curricular options and research projects. This is an important opportunity to make improvements in the way surgeons are prepared to meet the challenges of the future. Surgical education research is growing as an area of critical importance and UCSF is positioned to lead in this area.

The Department of Surgery supports a resident to focus on surgical education research. This resident also supports the skills laboratory educational program for both residents and students. We have had a surgical education research fellow participate on the team. This is a person who has formal training in education (masters or doctoral degree) along with surgery.

Surgical Education Research Team


Surgical Educator


UCSF offers a robust curriculum from a series of courses through a doctoral degree in health professions education to prepare learners to conduct educational research. This curriculum exposes participants to faculty who focus on education across the UCSF campus. Individuals in the Surgical Education Research Pathway are expected to participate in the departmental works in progress meetings for Public Health Outcomes and Education (PHEO).

Residents and Fellows

We encourage residents focusing in surgical education research to participate in the UCSF Pathways to Discovery Health Professions Education Pathway. The goal of the pathway is to develop individuals with excellent skills in teaching and curriculum and the ability to translate theory into the learning environment. The curriculum emphasizes learning theory, teaching strategies, curriculum development and for the advanced learner, assessment and educational leadership. All participants complete a legacy projects. This education addresses the gap between what people assume they know about teaching and what teaching is as defined by the field.


UCSF offers a longitudinal, yearlong faculty development program called Teaching Scholars. Like the Health Professions Education Pathway, this program prepares faculty with background in the same areas and with the expectation of a scholarly project.

Masters of Arts in Education

The curriculum taken in the Health Professions Education Pathway and/or the Teaching Scholars Program can be applied toward a masters degree with a concentration in health professions education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. This degree has an emphasis on research. Using a UCSF employee tuition reduction, this becomes a very affordable program. We have had one surgical resident complete this program. While open to faculty, the demands make it best aligned with a resident during the research years.

Doctorate in Health Professions Education

UCSF offers in conjunction with the University of Utrecht, a doctoral degree. This program is designed for clinicians which allows them to work while completing the program which is a combination of seminars, independent learning and a longitudinal series of studies identifying a body of scholarly work contributing to the educational literature.

Funding Sources


Grant Announcements &
Funding Mechanisms



HRSA Open Opportunities

Associated with a training program (rare in surgery)


NIH Funding Opportunities

Linked to an issue of concern (rarely explicitly for education); potentially with a T32


AHRQ Funding & Grants

Linked to patient safety


Group on Educational Affairs (GEA) Updates

Initiated a small ($10,000) grant program 2014


Stemmler Medical Education Research Fund

To study assessment


WGEA Updates and Funding

Regional yearly, up to $5000

Association of Surgical Educators

Center for Excellence in Surgical Education, Research and Training (CESERT)


  • For the general list of fellowships and other grant opportunities for the resident research program, click here.

Related Links

Improving Patient Outcomes Through Medical Education - the Health Professions Education Pathway to Discovery - 

Site Directory