The Mental Strategies of Surgeons: A Primer – Part I


  • Curt Tribble, MD Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA



It is Spring in Virginia, and that means that it is time for medical students to make their final decisions about which discipline of Medicine they will apply to for postgraduate training and to begin their application processes. I have long believed that most medical students with two hands and binocular vision can be successful in a surgical training program, if that is what they choose to do. However, obtaining a surgical residency is a competitive process, which means that the applicants must have their thoughts organized so that they can put their ‘best foot forward’ as they go through the application and selection process. The most challenging aspects of the application process for virtually everyone are writing personal statements and preparing for interviews, which will be even more complicated than usual, in the midst of the current pandemic. After more than four decades of helping students prepare for these daunting exercises, I have honed the advice that I give these applicants about the related challenges of writing about themselves and of answering questions in interviews. I believe that the candidates must convince the reviewers of their applications that they have, or can develop, the mental strategies necessary to become a capable surgeon. In this treatise, I will outline the mental strategies that I have found essential to achieving competency in a surgical discipline. The task of the applicants will be, therefore, to assert, with supporting evidence, that they are confident that they have, or can learn, these mental strategies.


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How to Cite

Tribble, C. (2020). The Mental Strategies of Surgeons: A Primer – Part I. The Heart Surgery Forum, 23(6), E927-E936.