Residents and Faculty Attend Surgery Faculty Retreat

Second-year General Surgery residents Adam Fields, MD, and Jason Pradarelli, MD, MS, share their experiences attending the Department of Surgery’s faculty treat and the importance of trainee education.

When the Brigham’s Department of Surgery hosted an offsite faculty retreat earlier this fall, the focus of the event was trainee education. Nearly 110 faculty surgeons across Surgery engaged in activities during the retreat to improve their interactions with teaching trainees.

The Department of Surgery invited a handful of surgical residents to participate in the retreat alongside faculty. During that time, residents were assigned to one of 10 faculty breakout groups, which were tasked with making concrete recommendations that the department should pursue as educational initiatives in the upcoming year.

The retreat’s keynote address was delivered by visiting professor Steven Stain, MD, Chair of Surgery at Albany Medical Center, whose message focused on faculty being lifelong educators of the future leaders in surgery. Next, attendees joined breakout groups that discussed surgical resident education topics, including “wellness,” “the learning environment,” and “teaching in the operating room.” Participants sat in small circles with attendings from all specialties in the department, including bariatric surgery, breast surgery, cardiac surgery, plastic surgery, thoracic surgery and urology. All participated in energetic debates on how best to implement these elements into the surgery curriculum.

Faculty suggested ideas to change the incentive structure for education and mentoring activities, to enlist coaches to train them to be better educators, and to engage residents in more social settings to build camaraderie. A process was presented to guide the department from its current state to one of an enhanced educational environment using the ideas generated at the retreat. From the 30 ideas recommended in the breakout groups, the faculty voted on the top-10 ideas for the department’s Education Committee to prioritize into actual initiatives for the upcoming year. This process provided a path to enable front-line, organically-derived ideas to transform into educational initiatives for residents to pursue as soon as next year.

Afterwards, residents joined faculty in the main hall for an interactive lecture on practical ways to give and receive feedback. Attendings and residents alike videotaped each other while role-playing a real-life scenario that required giving someone feedback. The day ended with a wine-and-cheese reception where residents and faculty could debrief about the day.

“The interest and enthusiasm to strengthen the department’s educational approach was palpable,” said residents Adam Fields, MD, and Jason Pradarelli, MD, MS. “The rooms for the breakout groups were buzzing with energetic discussions. Furthermore, there was resounding active participation by the faculty in a workshop session to provide better real-time feedback to residents. Faculty from all corners of the department were genuine in contributing ideas formed from their own past experiences learning as trainees and their own past struggles educating as attendings.”

The residents added: “While there is still much work to do on developing and actualizing these educational initiatives, the 2018 Department of Surgery faculty retreat was a demonstrable commitment to improving resident education. Seeing our faculty mentors engaging in efforts to enhance their own teaching abilities was a great way for them to lead by example. By fostering this culture of continuing professional development and individual improvement in the surgery faculty, we as residents become more likely to model that behavior as well. Working collaboratively with our faculty mentors to provide outstanding patient care is what we came to the Brigham to do. We look forward to joining the faculty in this effort to strengthen our department’s educational mission.

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