Undergraduate Education

CUSEC – Canadian Under Graduate Surgical Education Committee

The Canadian Undergraduate Surgical Education Committee was born in 1986 under the leadership of Dr. Rudy Danzinger from Winnipeg. The Chairmen’s Council or Committee of all the Chairmen of Departments of Surgery in the Canadian Medical Schools mandated the coordination of undergraduate teaching in Surgery to develop a document outlining the “Surgical Component of the Undergraduate MD Program.” Initially, this was an ad hoc committee and the document from May 1986, presented in September 1986 outlined the aim of the MD program, the Undergraduate Surgical Program, and the commitments for the Departments of Surgery.

The preamble of the document states that it provides a blueprint for objectives of undergraduate surgical teaching. It allows flexibility, as each school will have strengths and emphases. It contains general overall goals and more specific surgical goals:

  1. For the students to achieve (at the completion of the MD Program), a defined body of knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for the recognition and understanding of the management of patients with diseases, which may be treated by surgeons.
  2. A second specific goal was to contribute to the foundation necessary for the graduating student to enter into any field of medical practice.

It then outlines the role of the Departments of Surgery in exposing students throughout their Program to comprehensive instruction regarding diagnostic skills and basic knowledge relevant to the surgical specialties. The skills of acquisition, interpretation, synthesis and recording of information, critical appraisal and self directed learning are all elaborated on in the document. A series of patient problems were listed and prioritized according to “must know”, “should know” and “may know”. This classification served for several years as the basis for objectives in several medical schools.

For many years, the Chair of this ad hoc Committee became the leader of CUSEC and appointed by the Canadian Association of Surgical Chairs (CASC), which evolved from the Chairmen’s Council. The Chair would have a mandate of 3 years and the group would meet twice a year, once in conjunction with the ASE (Association of Surgical Education) and once with the Royal College meeting. It would gather all the Surgical Clerkship Directors and Coordinators as well as surgeons and residents interested in developing Surgical Undergraduate Education.

Objectives Defined

At these meetings, the objectives were refined and CUSEC members collaborated with the ASE in designing the multiple editions of the “Manual of Surgical Objectives” which formed the basis of a Textbook: Essentials of General Surgery and later on the Essentials of Surgical Specialties, edited by Peter Lawrence.

The Curriculum Committee of the ASE prepared the 4thedition of the manual. This edition was a departure from the systems approach to the problems-based learning experience. There were 29 objectives or chapter headings to be used by clerkship students and educators. Each one had “assumptions of previous knowledge of normal anatomy and function” acquired in the first year of medical school.

At several meetings of CUSEC, a Canadian version of these objectives was developed and at a meeting in Houston at the time of the ASE the Canadian objectives were approved in 2004. These were adopted in several departments and will be revisited soon.

Educational Accomplishments

One major accomplishment of CUSEC was to initiate and continue on a biannual basis a Canadian Surgical Education Symposium aimed at Clerkship Directors and Administrative Assistants, as well as Heads of Departments and Deans and Associate Deans of the Medical Schools. The symposia are theme based and have a pre-meeting workshop for new Clerkship Directors and those seeking promotion through the educational stream. The organizing committee invites speakers and free papers for presentation. The meetings have been held all across Canada, in sites such as Montreal, Banff, Halifax, Whistler, Lake Louise, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and others. During the Symposium, CUSEC awards the John Provan Surgical Educator Award to the outstanding surgeon nominated by his or her Department Head and selected by the CUSEC Executive Committee. We are grateful for the continued support of Johnson and Johnson Co. toward the recognition of the Best Medical Student Essay on the theme of the meeting. Submissions from across the country contribute to the exciting concepts elaborated by our students. The winning essay gets to be published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery through an understanding with the Editor, Dr Garth Warnock


General Inquiries
Email: cusec.ccecp@gmail.com
Please allow 5 business days for a reply.
Dr. Geoff Blair | CUSEC Chair | gblair@cw.bc.ca

Denise Archibald | CUSEC Representative | denise.archibald@vch.ca


Membership is open to anyone involved in, or interested in, undergraduate surgical education. There are no membership fees. If you would like to become a CUSEC Member, please click here.