Revitalizing the Patient-Surgeon Relationship: Surgical Curriculum Including the Patient Perspective

Hayley Standage, Katherine Kelley, Heather Buxton, Cate Wetzel, Karen J. Brasel, Heather Hoops

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: General Surgery residents have increasing obligations that limit time with patients. This affects the patient-physician relationship, decreases meaning in work and increases burnout. Patient-Centric Resident Conferences (PCRC)1 incorporate patients in resident didactics to promote meaning in work and improve resident confidence in counseling and consenting patients for surgery. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study of General Surgery residents who participated in standard didactic conferences (control) and modified conferences (PCRC) between 2017 and 2019. Control conferences covered a relevant surgical topic. PCRC had shortened didactics and discussions with patients who had undergone the relevant index operation. Pre- and postconference surveys measured teaching effectiveness, confidence in counseling and consenting, and resident perception of how well the conference supported their decision to pursue surgery. Survey data was compared using chi-squared tests. Qualitative data analysis used ground theory methodology. SETTING: This study was performed by the Department of Surgery at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. PARTICIPANTS: All active General Surgery residents were asked to participate in conferences. RESULTS: Eighty-one residents completed 136 surveys over 5 control conferences and 207 surveys over 7 PCRC. Residents reported increased confidence in counseling and consenting for surgery following control conferences (p < 0.0001) and PCRC (p < 0.0001). Residents’ perception of effectiveness of teaching pathophysiology (p = 0.008) and operative steps (p = 0.013) was greater in control conferences whereas effectiveness of teaching surgical complications was greater in PCRC (p = 0.006). Resident responses indicated greater support for a surgical career following PCRC compared to control conferences (p = 0.013). Themes like “patient perspective,” “impact on surgeon,” and “psychological effects of surgery” were common in PCRC and rare in control conferences. CONCLUSIONS: PCRC were associated with stronger motivations for a surgical career and included patient-centered themes, which can enhance meaning in work. These conferences complement but do not replace standard didactics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e146-e153
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • meaning in work
  • patient consent
  • patient counseling
  • patient-physician relationship
  • physician burnout
  • surgical resident education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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