Broadening the Skills of Tomorrow's Surgeons

The old adage for teaching surgery was “see one, do one, teach one.” But times have changed, and the procedures, tools, and methods of training young surgeons have grown more complex.

Today’s surgical residents need training that is broad and extensive. They also need to stay up to date on the latest and best methods. No one knows that better than Francis Shen, MD (Med ’96, Res ’02), who is the Warren G. Stamp Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and division head of orthopedic spine surgery at UVA.

Shen started his career in engineering, but he soon realized that he wanted to apply his skills to working with people.

“Orthopedics was a natural fit,” says Shen, who spends many full days in surgery. He also runs an active research program and works to advance the future of spine surgery by training post-doctorate research fellows and clinical spine surgeons.

“Developing our residents and fellows to become future surgeons, clinicians, educators, and researchers is becoming more and more challenging,” says Shen, who has received a number of teaching awards. “We are always looking at new and innovative ways to train our residents.”

To help ensure this type of experience for orthopedic residents at UVA, Shen has created the Young and Carol Shen Resident Educational and Research Fund in honor of his parents, who embody the ideals of lifelong learning and teaching.

He is also supporting the Shen Family Resident Education Fund. Both funds provide resources for the departments’ educational expenses, including resident awards, visiting professor expenses, and conference, research, and seminar costs.

“This is a way for me to help ensure the future excellence of our residents, which is of vital importance to our patients, but also to the department,” says Shen. “As a member of the faculty and a dedicated practicing surgeon, this is extremely important to me. I want to keep my department and my school among the leaders in orthopedic surgery.”

The Shen funds will offer important resources going forward, as the department prepares to move into its new Ivy Mountain location—a comprehensive center for orthopedic care. In addition to state-of-the-art patient care, Ivy Mountain will support expert training for orthopedic residents and fellows.

“It’s an exciting new chapter for the department,” notes Dr. Bobby Chhabra, (Med ’95), chair of orthopedic surgery. “The Shen funds will help us make the most of these wonderful new opportunities to keep our trainees at the top of their game.”