Prospective Residents: Educational Program Overview

Enhanced Educational Experience

Prerequisites for Life: Technical and Cognitive Skills

We believe that our graduates have a firm cognitive basis to practice today and incorporate the advances in medical knowledge of tomorrow. We intend to instill balance into the life of a resident as an important quality to creating a fulfilling life. Balance implies that there is sufficient time to incorporate our own family values into daily life. Residency has been a time of sacrifice due to the demands of patient care. Yet, many of the "old school" were not able to make a transition to a normal lifestyle at the end of their residency, and, in fact, the "workaholic" or dysfunctional surgeon has become a stereotype. We believe that this incorporation of balance must begin at the beginning of residency to become part of one’s lifelong value system.

Diversity of Experiences: Different Cultures, Different Styles

Prior to 1990, there were independent surgical residencies at Hartford Hospital, New Britain General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center. These four programs contained over 70 residents in total. By selecting the best elements of each program and eliminating redundancies, we have been able to diminish the total number of residents to approximately 44; of these 30 are categorical residents, six in each year.

Tomorrow’s Needs

In a different dimension, in addition to medical knowledge and technical skills, tomorrow’s surgeon needs a firm basis in ethical issues, financial matters, understanding (as best anyone can) the constantly changing world of managed care and governmental regulation, the humanities, and skills such as talking with patients and families about end of life decision making. Given the increasing bureaucracy and the intrusion of so many others into the doctor-patient relationship, it has become even more important to emphasize the humanistic qualities possessed by our predecessors. They, having none of the powerful therapeutic armamentarium available today, were in some respects more revered and respected than the current generation of physicians.

Diversity in Research

While there is no requirement "built-in" to the residency, we have encouraged and many residents have availed themselves of a number of different types of research. There are research initiatives at the university including tumor immunology, molecular biology, a comprehensive cancer center, cancer genomics, biomaterials and wound healing. Hartford Hospital has research opportunities in trauma and wound healing. Innovations in education are also encouraged and supported.

Many residents choose to seek out research opportunities in other academic centers, especially those consonant with their long-term goals. We make every effort to accommodate each individual resident's plans and aspirations and indeed, many of our residents have participated in some of the finest research laboratories in the country.

Diversity of Education in Different Hospitals

At each hospital, there are separate conferences including the required mortality and morbidity, grand rounds, and basic science reviews. In addition, there are chief resident grand rounds given for the entire integrated program as well as a visiting professor program. The diversity of sites, however, has one drawback: it is difficult to assemble all of the people in the same place at the same time. We believe that this problem can turn into an opportunity through the medium of electronic communication among the residents and faculty.

Innovation and Creativity: Environmental Changes

We believe in the philosophy expressed by Wayne Gretzky, who, when asked the secret of his success, replied, "I don’t skate to where the puck is, but where the puck will be." The core of our new approach to education for residents who are spread out among different institutions is an electronically enhanced educational system. “Blackboard” is a university-supported platform allowing access to important announcements, programs, policies, etc. Individual operative log entries can be made "in the comfort and privacy of your own home." Some of these programs are projects sponsored by the Pyrtek Fund, an endowed fund at Hartford Hospital specifically to foster resident education.

Blueprint for Tomorrow

The crucial issue is that the technological capabilities have outstripped our utilization for medical teaching. It is here that innovation and creativity will find their greatest expression. In addition to making it easier to learn, we will be doing the learning together. We are in a new time and we are convinced that the newer teaching methodologies will help solve some of the problems faced by academic health centers. Come join us and be part of the solution!