Core Curriculum & Didactics

This exciting and innovative educational program was developed with the support of the ACGME and ABOS and fulfills ACGME and ABOS requirements. The curriculum is designed to maximize residency educational opportunities and learning efficiencies, leveraging the faculty's extensive and diverse clinical practice and the advanced learning resources at Duke University. The curriculum is based on the rich traditions and leadership of the outstanding orthopaedic education at Duke. It is enhanced by the integration of advanced strategies for adult learning, including surgical simulation, self-directed learning, and improved evaluation methods and providing feedback to the resident.

The goals of the competency-based educational curriculum include ensuring the mastery of general orthopaedic core competencies and providing opportunities for advanced training through a selective curriculum tailored to individual interests during the final two years of residency. Core competencies will emphasize clinical decision-making, comprehensive patient care, and technical skills from office-based procedures to the operating room. A progressive model of learning and responsibility will emphasize core concepts such as anatomy, technical skills, and basic surgical principles to integrate these critical concepts into patient care activities.

Importantly, skills inherent to all orthopaedic surgery will be highlighted by longitudinal exposure throughout one’s residency training. A structured curriculum for research, leadership, and non-technical skills such as diversity, patient safety, and ethics/professionalism has been created to supplement a resident’s interests and his/her lifelong learning strategies.

One-on-one teaching: In the form of tutorials in the clinic and the operating room. These tutorials develop competency in clinical skills, including history taking, fundamental musculoskeletal examination, interpretive skills, problem-solving/decision-making, preoperative planning, operative techniques, and postoperative care.

Anatomy/Surgical Skills Labs are vital to interactive learning and valuable experiences for appreciating the importance of surgical anatomy and exposure. These lab experiences are emphasized in the development of our competency-based education curriculum.  Currently, the Duke Human Fresh Tissue Laboratory (HFFTL) is used for a primary procedure skills curriculum for junior residents and subspecialty core curriculum labs.

Didactic/Socratic teaching: Residents have an opportunity to attend 350+ orthopaedic conferences each academic year – each with an emphasis on case-based learning and interactive sessions. Each orthopaedic subspecialty hosts a monthly journal club.

Education is paramount at Duke, and our residency curriculum includes a range of educational conferences that span the breadth of general orthopaedics and orthopaedic sub-specialties.

  • Tuesdays: Faculty-Led "Specialty Core Conference" (6:30–7:15 a.m.)
  • Wednesdays: Grand Rounds Conference (6:30–7:30 a.m.)
  • Thursdays: Resident-Led "Fracture/Trauma Conference" (6:30–7:15 a.m.)
  • Thursdays: Faculty/Resident-Led "Core Skills Conference/Lab" (5:30–7:30 p.m.)

Research: Residents have numerous opportunities in all fields of orthopaedic surgery in which to participate in basic scientific and clinical research. Over the last 30 years, over 270 Duke residents have presented more than 650 papers at regional, national, and international meetings and have published over 700 manuscripts in refereed journals. Understanding the basic principles of scientific research, developing and nurturing a research idea, and completing a research project will be supported through a mentorship model in the new curriculum, encouraging the development of ideas and the advancement of fundamental principles and existing treatment strategies.