Constructing Surgical Identities: Becoming a Surgeon Educator

  • Tamzin Cuming
  • Jo Horsburgh
Part of the Innovation and Change in Professional Education book series (ICPE, volume 17)


The challenge of developing an identity as a surgeon educator stems from the widely differing standpoints of surgery, with its biomedical view of the world, and education in its context as a social science. We argue that a social science lens is necessary for exploring the complex educational problems that surgeons face. Various forms of faculty development exist to unite the disparate traditions of education and surgery, yet the transformation from surgeon to surgeon educator is likely to be fostered best from within a community of surgeons who also identify as educators. A surgeon educator is presented as one who is able to integrate the two world views of surgery and education, which will prove of benefit not only to those they educate but also to surgery as a whole.


Identity Surgeon educator Faculty development Education Training Biomedical Social science Complexity Expertise Situated Community of practice Association of Surgeons in Training ‘Silver Scalpel’ Measurement Kirkpatrick Training the Trainer Best Evidence Medical Education Academy of Medical Educators Socialisation Interpretivist Constructivist Temple report Time for Training Report Rapport Modelling Reflection Transformative Feedback Reflection in action Self-awareness General Medical Council Longitudinal development 


  1. 1.
    Biesta, G. J. J. (2010). Good education in an age of measurement. London: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carr, D. (1999). Is teaching a skill? Philosophy Ed, pp. 204–211.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Association of Surgeons in Training. The Silver Scalpel Award. Accessed 15th Sept 2017.
  4. 4.
    Beard, J. D., Marriott, J., et al. (2011). Assessing the surgical skills of trainees in the operating theatre: A prospective observational study of the methodology. Health Technology Assessment, 15(1), i–xxi 1–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Pereira, E. A., & Dean, B. J. (2013). British surgeons’ experiences of a mandatory online workplace based assessment portfolio resurveyed three years on. Journal of Surgical Education, 70(1), 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Shalhoub, J., Marshal, D. C., & Ippolito, K. (2017). Perspectives on procedure-based assessments: A thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with 10 UK surgical trainees. BMJ Open, 7, e013417. Scholar
  7. 7.
    GMC’s promoting excellence: Standards for medical education and training. Accessed 15 Sept 2017.
  8. 8.
    Becher, T., & Trowler, P. (2001). Academic tribes and territories. Intellectual enquiry and the cultures of disciplines (2nd ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press/SRHE.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Neumann, R. (2001). Disciplinary differences and university teaching. Studies in Higher Education., 26(2), 135–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kneebone, R. (2002). Total internal reflection: An essay on paradigms. Medical Education, 36, 514–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Temple, J. (2010). Time for training. A review of the impact of the European Working Time Directive on the quality of training. Medical Education England.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Miller, A., & Archer, J. (2010). Impact of workplace based assessment on doctors’ education and performance: A systematic review. BMJ, 341, c5064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Steinert, Y. (2014). Developing medical educators. A journey not a destination. In T. Swanick (Ed.), Understanding medical education: Evidence, theory and practice. London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    General Medical Council. (2012). Recognising and approving trainers: A consultation document. London: GMC.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Steinert, Y. (2014). Faculty development in the health professions. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Steinert, Y., Mann, K., Centeno, A., Dolmans, D., Spencer, J., Gelula, M., Prideaux, D. (2006) A systematic review of faculty development initiatives designed to improve teaching effectiveness in medical education: BEME Guide No 8. Medical Teacher, 28(6), 497–526 updated in: Steinert Y, Mann K et al. A systematic review of faculty development initiatives designed to enhance teaching effectiveness: A 10-year update: BEME Guide No. 40. Med Teach. 2016 Aug;38(8):769–86.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mackenzie, H., Cuming, T., et al. (2015). Design, delivery and validation of a trainer curriculum for the national laparoscopic colorectal training program in England. Annals of Surgery, 261(1), 149–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kirkpatrick, D. L., & Kirkpatrick, J. D. (1994). Evaluating training programs. Berrett-Koehler Publishers 1994.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Tekian, A., & Harris, I. (2012). Preparing health professions education leaders worldwide: A description of masters-level programs. Medical Teacher, 34(1), 52–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tekian, A., Roberts, T., et al. (2014). Preparing leaders in health professions education. Medical Teacher, 36(3), 269–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sethi, A., Schofield, S., et al. (2015). How do postgraduate qualifications in medical education impact on health professionals. Medical Teacher, 38(2), 162–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Horsburgh, J. (2015). Surgeons as brokers? Exploring the professional identity development of surgical educators. (Unpublished thesis) King’s College London.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wenger-Trayner, E. (2017). Introduction to communities of practice. Accessed 25 Sept 2017.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamzin Cuming
    • 1
  • Jo Horsburgh
    • 2
  1. 1.Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK
  2. 2.Educational Development UnitImperial CollegeLondonUK

Personalised recommendations