Fourth Year Electives

Electives in areas of clinical care, basic science and clinical research, and multi-disciplinary care are offered to third- and fourth-year medical students through the Department of Surgery. The goal of our elective program is to offer a broad array of experiences in the practice of surgery that are offered through our faculty's care of patients at the IU Medical Center.

Clinical electives in the practice of surgery are offered at the Indiana University, Wishard Memorial, Riley Children's, Roudebush VA, and Methodist Hospitals. Exposure to hepatobiliary, pancreatic, minimally-invasive, breast, plastic, thoracic, cardiovascular, and transplant surgery are offered through month-long electives. Students are integrated into the resident team and aid in all aspects of patient care and operative intervention. Additional electives are offered for specialized experiences in ICU care, pediatric surgery, burn surgery, and trauma surgery. The Office of Medical Student Affairs has more details.

Opportunities in either basic science or clinical research are offered by our surgical faculty. Participation in the research endeavors of the general surgery, pediatric surgery, cardiovascular or transplant surgery laboratories will expose the medical student to ongoing bench, translational and clinical research projects. The research focus of each lab will vary among investigators. The research may involve in vitro, in vivo, as well as, human clinical trial and retrospective case review models. The student may be exposed to and perform basic biochemical techniques including ELISA, Western Blot, etc. In addition, after appropriate training, the student may participate in animal studies which may involve surgical procedures. The student may participate in clinical studies that are ongoing at the time of the rotation. Finally, the student will participate in group lab meetings and also have individual meetings with the primary investigator.

A didactic elective during the spring of each year is offered to fourth-year students as a preparation for surgical internship. Opportunities to refine suturing skills, for introduction to invasive techniques such as endoscopy, to broaden trauma assessment acumen, and to expand techniques for the evaluation of scientific literature will be offered on a small-group demonstration and discussion basis. A surgical skills laboratory is also integrated into the elective for students to obtain proficiency in techniques such as thoracostomy tube and central line placement.

A competency curriculum for Level III acquisition in the Basic Clinical Skill competency is offered through many of the clinical electives. The student may choose to participate in a 5 station Surgical Skills Laboratory, including basic laparoscopy, endoscopy, advanced suturing technique, ultrasonography, and bronchoscopy. Students will be evaluated for their proficiency with each of these skills that are demonstrated and practiced during the sessions to achieve the competency requirements.

An Honors program in Surgery is also offered for special designation of participating senior students. Students wishing to participate in the Honors program should be in the upper half of their class, express a strong interest in a surgical career and demonstrate aptitude in surgical skills. The Honors Program will require two months in the laboratory of a member of the surgical faculty where the candidate will be expected to function as an independent investigator, under faculty guidance, and to develop a project of scientific merit. The surgical internship preparation elective may be substituted for one of the two months of laboratory research. Students completing these requirements will be recognized at their annual graduation banquet for their Honors work in Surgery.


For non IU medical students interested in a surgery rotation please contact John Keller.


Department of Surgery | 545 Barnhill Drive, Emerson Hall 203, Indianapolis, In 46202 | Phone: (317) 274-5771