Renewed Focus on Surgical Education: An Update from the Vice Chair of Education

Over the last year, we have been strategically reviewing the approach to education within the Department of Surgery and looking for opportunities to strengthen it. To help support this focused effort, the new position of Surgical Education Manager was created with Kathryn Ryan joining the team in August, 2019.

Kathryn comes to Lurie Children’s with a masters in Public Service Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Administration and eight years of experience in Graduate Medical Education. She served as the manager of two in-house residency programs and two rotating residency programs with AMITA Health. She also has experience working with the Joint Commission, the ACGME, and other accrediting bodies. Kathryn brings a wealth of experience to the Department of Surgery medical education programs. 

First steps – laying the foundation


Kathryn Ryan

To lay the foundation for enhancing the education programs, a needs assessment of each division’s education program was conducted with the help of each program coordinator. From that SWOT analysis one of the overarching themes was: this is a highly recognized hospital with a great team but there is a lack of support and resources for the medical education projects and responsibilities. These findings will be among the targets to be addressed going forward.

In addition to the needs assessment, a new Education Advisory Committee, led by the Vice Chair of Education, has been created. This committee, which meets monthly, functions as the main communication and collaboration tool for the department’s education programs. It is comprised of all the education leaders in each division. Every month the meeting focuses on the needs of a different leadership group (Fellowship Program Directors, Residency Site Directors, Medical Student Clerkship Leaders, Program Coordinators).

Leveraging current resources

To improve the quality of our education programs we are working to leverage department resources to become more efficient in meeting our common education needs and to reduce administrative burden. Two projects are designed to achieve this: 

  1. Common Curriculum for Residents and Fellows: We have developed a common curriculum that will address core topics important to ACGME and non-ACGME accredited training programs. The first installment will be a half-day seminar February 21 focusing on professional development, financial health, and patient safety and healthcare quality. Each resident and fellow (both clinical and research based) are expected to attend this seminar and lunch will be provided. It will be held from 11:45am-4:30pm in the Lurie Children’s conference center on the hospital’s 11th floor. Here is the full agenda.
  2. PSQI Common Curriculum for Fellows: We are developing a PSQI common curriculum for all fellows to provide the highest level of clinical care with continuous focus on safety, individual needs, and humanity for their patients. In addition, this curriculum will teach the fellows the tools and techniques that are necessary for health care professionals to achieve quality improvement goals. We will be utilizing lectures, mentored research projects, and online courses (ELM).


Specific education related goals, which map back to two of the Vision 2025 institution goals, have been created for each of the educational leaders within the Department of Surgery.

Goal 1 – Be the Employer of Choice – Promote faculty and trainee health and wellness; and develop an engaged workforce.  To achieve this we will be focusing on three areas:

  • Engage coordinators more so greater job satisfaction is achieved
  • Provide stronger recognition opportunities within the divisions
  • Improve Trainee Wellness opportunities through Journal Clubs, formal lectures and sharing wellness guides

Goal 2 – Advance Surgery and Science – Enhance medical education programs; provide faculty development; and leverage academic partnerships. To accomplish this we will:

  • Leverage existing partnerships including the Feinberg Academy of Medical Educators (FAME), TIME Lectures Series, Faculty development learning modules, faculty development workshops and the Medical Educator Certificate program.
  • Enhance the Journal Club for faculty, fellows and residents
  • Hold invited lectures with outside speakers

By effectively enhancing the medical education programs and strategically facilitating faculty development, the intent is for the teams to have more of a sense of purpose and joy in practice, which will ultimately promote wellness and an engaged workforce. We look forward to continuing to partner with you and your teams as we move forward.

James W. Schroeder Jr., MD
Vice Chair of Education, Department of Surgery
Feinberg Academy of Medical Educators
Program Director, Pediatric Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery Fellowship
Director, Pediatric Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) Program
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine