Critical fail concepts in surgery: highlighting the “must-know” concepts

Critical fail concepts in surgery: highlighting the “must-know” concepts

Can J Surg 2021;64(3):E348-E350 | PDF

Arman Abdalkhani, MD; Geoffrey Blair, MD


As the vast majority of medical students do not pursue further postgraduate surgical education, we suggest that failing to achieve certain learning objectives (LOs) has greater potential consequences than others. We developed a tiered LO architecture that classifies a high-priority subset of "critical fail" LOs within the current surgical learning objectives for medical students. Followup of student performance on written examinations revealed an improvement in applying critical fail concepts without sacrificing performance on other LOs. Here we describe how we modified our declared curriculum to incorporate these changes.

Accepted July 28, 2020

Affiliations: From the Department of Otolarynogology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC (Abdalkhani); and the Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC (Blair).

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: Both authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.

Content licence: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original publication is properly cited, the use is noncommercial (i.e., research or educational use), and no modifications or adaptations are made. See:

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.020019

Correspondence to: A. Abdalkhani, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, The University of British Columbia, 11th Floor – 2775 Laurel St, Vancouver BC V5Z 1M9,