Surgical Foundations
Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ document is designed to answer potential questions from residents, teachers and supervisors in the nine surgical specialties that participate in Surgical Foundations.

  1. What is Surgical Foundations?

    Surgical Foundations is a special program that provides a common curriculum and clinical training in the fundamental skills of surgery for residents in the majority of surgical specialties, concurrent with training in the surgical specialty.

  2. Who has to enroll and how do they do so?

    When a resident is matched to one of the nine surgical specialty programs1 that participate in Surgical Foundations, they will automatically be enrolled in their university’s Surgical Foundations program.

  3. Will residents have two competence committees overseeing their progress?

    Yes. Residents will have their progress reviewed by a Surgical Foundations Competence Committee, which will monitor progress in Surgical Foundations Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs). They will also be reviewed by their surgical specialty’s Competence Committee, which will monitor progress in the discipline’s EPAs.

  4. How do two competence committees recommend a resident’s promotion?

    The Surgical Foundation’s Competence Committee will make recommendations about a resident’s progress on the Surgical Foundations EPAs. The surgical specialty’s Competence Committee will make recommendations about a resident’s progress on the surgical specialty’s EPAs. Resident progress and promotion through training is a joint responsibility of the Surgical Foundations and the surgical specialty program.

    Progress through the Surgical Foundations EPAs will not affect promotion within the surgical specialty program and vice versa. In the case of conflicting decisions about resident status, there will be a university-based mechanism to adjudicate.

  5. When does a resident do Surgical Foundations training?

    Residents will complete the training experiences and EPAs for both Surgical Foundations and their surgical specialty simultaneously. The schedule for training will be developed collaboratively between the program directors for both programs.

  6. How long does it take to complete the Surgical Foundations curriculum?

    Progress through Surgical Foundations is not time-based, but residents must complete the EPAs in order to be promoted to the Core of Discipline stage of the primary specialty.

  7. When will residents take the Surgical Foundations examination?

    The Surgical Foundations exam will be moved to the fall of the second year of residency training (i.e., approximately 12-15 months after beginning residency.) While success in the Surgical Foundations exam is not required for promotion to the Core of Discipline stage of the surgical specialty program, it must be successfully completed to take the surgical specialty exam.


1The nine specialties participating in Surgical Foundations are Cardiac Surgery, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Orthopedic Surgery, Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Urology and Vascular Surgery.