Surgery Medical Student Education

Department of Surgery faculty teach Harvard Medical School (HMS) students in a variety of settings. Faculty serve as career advisors, as tutors in Harvard’s innovative Pathways curriculum, or as lecturers in core and elective courses offered to students. In addition, faculty direct clinical and advanced biomedical science courses in the third and fourth years.

Core Clerkship in Surgery

The Department of Surgery at BIDMC is one of three major teaching and research entities of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Surgery.  Approximately half of HMS students take their Core Clerkship in Surgery at BIDMC.  

The Director of Undergraduate Education in the BIDMC Department of Surgery, Amy Evenson, MD, MPH, directs the Core Clerkship in Surgery.  A transplant surgeon who is passionate about teaching, Dr. Evenson is also the Fellowship Coordinator for the BIDMC Transplant Institute. Ben James, MD, MS, Chief of the Section of Endocrine Surgery at BIDMC, serves as Associate Clerkship Director. Dr. James has been a leader in undergraduate medical education and has an active research program in endocrine surgery. Jaisa Olasky, MD, a general surgeon at Mt. Auburn Hospital, also serves as Associate Clerkship Director for our department. Dr. Olasky, who completed a fellowship at BIDMC, is advancing the use of virtual reality simulation training in surgical education.

Formerly at HMS, students began their clinical training in their third year.  With the introduction in 2015 of HMS’s innovative Pathway’s curriculum, students now do their core clerkship in their second year of medical school.  By enabling students to gain clinical experience earlier than in the past, students have more time to develop their career plans and research interests. 

During their clerkship year, HMS students spend three-month rotations in both Surgery and Medicine.  They also spend six weeks in both Obstetrics/Gynecology and Pediatrics, and one month in Neurology, Radiology, and Psychiatry. 

The primary objective of the clerkship in Surgery is to provide students with a thorough introduction to general surgery, regardless of their future career plans.  Students learn about surgical decision making and the scope of surgical disease and management.  In addition, they learn about the importance of considering the patient as a whole person and collaborating with other medical professionals.  

During their surgical clerkship, students are assigned rotations so that their general surgery education is augmented by experience in Anesthesia and surgical subspecialties.  Students participate in patient care in a variety of settings (office, clinic, inpatient floors, and operating rooms). Students also come together for didactic sessions focused on topics in general surgery led by a faculty member who is a specialist in the topic under discussion. 

The Core Clerkship in Surgery is consistently highly rated by students, who cite the high quality of the teaching and the progressive approach to surgical education. HMS also recognizes the excellence of the BIDMC Core Clerkship in Surgery, recently giving major teaching awards to several faculty and staff.

Advanced Electives

medical studentsThe Department of Surgery's commitment to medical education continues in the wide array of elective courses offered to students from both Harvard and other medical schools in their final year.


All enrollments for these courses must be made through the office of the Registrar, Harvard Medical School.