Medical Student Training Overview

The surgical education of medical students at UT Southwestern is guided by three overriding goals:

  • To develop a fundamental knowledge base for the diagnosis, work-up, and treatment of surgical diseases and the diseases of its specialties
  • To give students an intense clinical experience emphasizing patient assessment, pre- and post-operative care, and surgical decision making
  • To acquire hands-on experience in the basic procedures associated with patient care


At UT Southwestern Medical School, all third-year students are required to complete a two-month clerkship in surgery. This consists of two one-month rotations of either general, vascular, or trauma surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital, general or vascular surgery at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center, or general surgery at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital or Baylor University Medical Center of Dallas. All students spend at least one month on a general surgery service and at least one month at Parkland. Each service offers a busy outpatient experience both in the clinic and emergency department settings.

Each week students attend two one-hour lectures and two one-hour small group tutorial sessions led by a faculty member in which student interaction is emphasized. In addition, students attend the weekly departmental chief's conference and grand rounds, as well as the service-based morbidity/mortality conferences, and teaching conferences. Attending rounds are made twice a week with emphasis on teaching.

Student Involvement

The student is an integral part of the team and is expected to perform histories and physical examinations, assist in the work-up and care of the patient in the emergency department, intensive care unit (ICU), ward settings, and scrub and assist in the operating room.

Emphasis is placed on demonstrating an in-depth knowledge of the patient's disease process and correlating basic science with the pathophysiology and treatment of the patient's disease. During the rotation, students acquire ample experience in performing the basic procedures associated with the care of their patients.


After successful completion of the third-year clerkship, students may take sub-internships during their fourth year in general surgery, trauma surgery, vascular surgery, or burn surgery. Elective rotations are offered in the ICU, emergency department, pediatric surgery, and all of the surgical specialties. Students have the opportunity to work in the basic-science laboratory in the surgery department for three months between the first and second years of medical school.

Students also participate in clinical research projects with various faculty members. Within the past year, a number of students have been involved in research projects in the UT Southwestern Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery (Simulation Center), leading to a number of presentations and posters.