The current healthcare environment demands optimization of patient outcomes in addition to maximal cost efficiency. Restrictions on resident work hours have placed limitations on the amount of time that trainee physicians can spend on patient care. For the surgery resident, the consequence is less time spent in the operating room under the supervision of a senior surgeon, the cornerstone of Halsted's approach to resident surgeon education. The use of simulation in graduate medical education has gained significant traction as a way to provide trainees with exposure to various techniques and procedures before use on the general patient population. This article describes simulation-based education with particular attention to surgical education. It proceeds to address competency-based education and mastery learning (ML) as key features of effective surgery education programs. A case study of ML in surgery is presented along with examples of translational medical education science from other medical specialties. The report concludes with a brief discussion about simulation-based surgical education today and prospects for the future.