Surgical Mentorship and Leadership Track

Course Faculty

Benjamin N Jacobs

Benjamin N Jacobs MD

Assistant Professor

Student Limit of 8

Overview and Purpose

Overview The Surgical Mentorship and Leadership Track is an innovative initiative to bolster the efforts of the University of Florida College of Medicine (UFCOM) to recruit and train the most caring and competent medical students. This program is designed to engage medical students from their first year, offering longitudinal mentorship that cultivates high-quality professional relationships, hones essential skills, and offers practical exposure to both clinical and research opportunities in the field of surgery. This initiative also aligns with the mission of the UF Department of Surgery to develop the next generation of surgeon leaders and promote advancements in basic and translational research.
Background. The recent transition of the USMLE Step 1 to a pass/fail system heralds a broader shift in medical education, training, and selection and signals a move towards a more “holistic” review of residency applicants. This change underscores the importance of applicants possessing substantial experience and basic competency in research, leadership, and service, particularly for those aspiring to academic positions. However, access to meaningful research experiences is not universal. Often, students can enter medical school uninformed about these opportunities, potentially hindering, or delaying their professional growth.

Proposal We present the Surgical Mentorship and Leadership Track as an effective solution to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have early access to well-structured training opportunities that maximize their career potential. This Discovery Track commences early in the students’ first year, guiding them through a structured four-year trajectory to develop essential research, clinical, and leadership/mentorship skills. This is achieved through didactic modules and workshops covering topics such as literature review, abstract writing, introductions, methods, results, discussions, and data analysis. Each module incorporates mentorship from both peers (MS3 + MS4s) and faculty, as we firmly believe that cultivating the next generation of skilled, compassionate surgeons is best accomplished within the context of consistent community. By focusing on the “whole person,” this mentorship model aims to develop the academic surgical leaders and mentors of tomorrow.

Relevance This proposed track would enable the University of Florida (UF) to remain competitive with programs such as the Anastomosis surgical mentoring program and the Transplant Research Education and Engagement (TREE) program at the University of Michigan, as well as the Future Surgical Leaders program at the Medical University of South Carolina general surgery residency.1,2 For instance, the UM Anastomosis program facilitates mentoring by creating ‘surgical families’ consisting of 1-2 medical students, 1-2 junior residents (PGY 1 or 2), senior residents (PGY 4 or 5), and a faculty member. These groups meet regularly to coordinate research efforts, deliver short lectures, and discuss relevant topics, thereby nurturing high-quality professional relationships over time. The program not only mentors students to become surgeons but also prepares them to be better mentees and future mentors themselves. Echoing the structure of the Anastomosis clinical program, the UM TREE program is a “multi-generational” research cohort comprised of undergraduate students, medical students, residents, and attending. They regularly meet in a large group setting to refine best practices, coordinate research efforts and then delegate project tasks to smaller teams. Lastly, the Future Surgical Leaders program serves general surgery residents at MUSC by supplementing clinical and surgical skill development with essential leadership competencies such as improving cross-disciplinary collaboration, managing challenging situations that arise in clinical situations, effective communication strategies, and ways to incorporate diversity and inclusion in practice. Despite their varying focus, each of these programs adopt a longitudinal and integrated approach to mentorship and training and make a concerted effort to develop learners from the outset of their training and continue through until the next stages of their training.

Conclusion In conclusion, our top-ranking medical school and surgical department, located in the third most populous state in the United States, are perfectly positioned to attract and train the nation’s finest medical students. By engaging these students from day one, we can harness the expertise of our globally recognized surgeons and medical center to cultivate the next generation of surgeons and reaffirm our commitment to “Learn, Care, and Lead.” The Surgical Mentorship and Leadership Track enables us to deliver the most well-rounded, comprehensive surgical education, fostering not only proficient surgeons but also effective mentors and leaders in the field. This initiative establishes a high standard for mentorship, essential for equipping our students with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to become the academic surgeons and mentors of tomorrow.


The core components targeted by this Discovery Pathway include (1) research skills, (2) clinical skills, and (3) student development skills (leadership/mentorship/advising). The following are general goals for each category.

• Research skills
o Develop the fundamental research skills and abilities necessary to conduct independent, high-quality scholarly work.
o Familiarize learners with the research process, including dissemination of findings through local and national conferences and publications.
o Enhance learners’ ability to effectively lead, follow, and collaborate in research settings.

• Clinical skills
o Develop proficiency with the most common suturing and tying techniques expected of first-year surgical interns.
• Student development skills
o Equip students to become effective mentees and mentors by fostering strong communication and relationship-building skills.
o Ensure students achieve proficiency in basic leadership and mentorship principles and practices to guide others in their professional development.
o Offer exposure to specialized topics of interest, allowing students to explore and expand their knowledge in relevant areas.

General Structure

The Surgical Mentorship and Leadership Track features approximately biweekly lectures and workshops encompassing clinical skills (e.g., suturing, one-handed tie, two-handed tie), research skills (e.g., literature review, data analysis), and student development skills (e.g., mentoring, leadership, match process). This model implements a tiered structure that allows for progressive involvement and responsibility each year of medical school; for example:

• MS1 and MS2: These students will be involved in seminars and workshops covering topics such as literature review, data collection/analysis, and paper writing for their projects.
• MS3: Students at this level will provide advice and editing assistance for ongoing projects.
• MS4: These students will help monitor and assist with ongoing projects and help recruit new students into the program. Both MS3 + MS4 will serve as peer mentors.
• PGY: Residents (when present) will help MS4s select projects for the program.

Curriculum Topics

As noted above, most topics have a didactic/seminar portion paired with an experiential learning activity (i.e., a seminar on abstract writing followed by an abstract workshop). The topics for each category are as follows:
• Research skills
o Seminar:
 Research process overview.
 How to perform a literature review. – Librarian
 How to write an introduction.
 How to write a methods section.
 How to write an IRB proposal. – Nancy
 Intro to stats talk – Dan Neil
 How to perform exploratory data analysis.
 Introduction to SAS coding (via UF’s open-source BOLT program).
 How to write a results section.
 How to write a discussion section.
 How to create a poster presentation.
 How to write an abstract.

o Activity:
 Workshops for each lecture.

• Clinical skills
o One-handed tie
o Two-handed tie
o Subcuticular suture
o Subcutaneous suture

• Student development skills (leadership/mentoring/advising)
o Seminar:
 How to be a good mentee.
 How to be a good mentor.
 Leadership basics.
 Talk about failure.
 How to excel on surgical rotations.
 How to give a good surgical patient presentation.
 Commonly asked questions: ERAS, LORs, aways, etc.
o Activity:
 Workshops on CV, personal statement, 10 experiences, etc.

Assessment & Requirements

• Students will be evaluated based on attendance, engagement, and performance. They are expected to:
o Attend 75% of seminars and workshops.
o Actively engage in assigned projects under the guidance of faculty and peer mentors.
 Monthly seminars will serve as organized check-ins with peer mentors to review progress, provide feedback, and ensure assignment completion.
o Complete all required assignments (*indicates recommended assignment)

Research skills
• Submit poster and abstract to UFCOM Research Day, serving as capstone.
• *Submit an abstract to national conference (i.e., Academic Surgical Congress).*
Travel to a national conference to present research.

Clinical skills
• Participate in Surgical Olympics during UFCOM Research Day
 Student development skills (leadership/mentorship/advising)
• Lead one suture clinic as an MS4.
• Lead one research workshop (i.e., methods workshop) as an MS4.
• Lead one development seminar (i.e., CV) as an MS4.


Students who successfully fulfill the requirements of the Surgical Mentorship and Leadership Track, as outlined above, will receive a Certificate of Distinction upon graduation. This recognition is awarded to all those who consistently exhibit leadership and dedication to the program, demonstrating the potential to become the academic surgical leader and mentor of tomorrow.