Students are able to partake in electives or observerships in any of the surgical subspecialties offered at The Ottawa Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and The University of Ottawa Heart Institute. These options include:

Cardiac Surgery

Students will be provided with an understanding of surgical aspects of heart disease and the treatment modalities. The surgical options for therapy will be discussed including coronary artery bypass surgery, valve repair and replacement, pacemaker technology and circulatory assistance. Students will be expected to participate in clinics, the operating room and the intensive care areas under supervision.

General Surgery

Students will get a chance to acquire OR and clinical exposure during this two to four week elective, with an emphasis on ambulatory diagnosis, surgical management and peri-operative care. Other subspecialties in General Surgery that students may have the opportunity to encounter are: Colorectal, Hepatobiliary, Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS), Breast, Trauma and Bariatric.


Students will be exposed to a broad spectrum of emergencies, elective operative neurosurgery and ambulatory neurosurgery in the clinics of the Ottawa General Hospital and Ottawa Civic Hospitals. Students will participate in clinical activities including consultations, non-operative clinical care, diagnostic procedures and surgical interventions. This will provide first-hand opportunity to correlate clinical diagnoses and diagnostic tests with operative pathology. The elective will incorporate a significant exposure to trauma to the nervous system, cerebrovascular disease, neuro-oncology and disorders of the spine.

Orthopaedic Surgery

Students have the opportunity to learn the basic concepts regarding: fracture treatment, proper cast application, the ability to accurately assess musculoskeletal injuries in adults and how to recognize orthopaedic problems that may require surgery and how to conduct a proper physical examination. Students will gain exposure to both emergency room and operating room settings, with the potential to assist in either.

Paediatric Surgery

Students will be exposed to common surgical procedures, as well as insight into the radiological investigations that are essential for proper diagnoses. Electives are available for:

Paediatric General Surgery

Students have the opportunity to observe ambulatory care, including hernias, hydroceles, lumps and bumps in the outpatient clinic. Students will also learn proper management postoperative management of inpatients.

Paediatric Neurosurgery

Students will receive exposure and learn comprehensive management of Paediatric Neurosurgical problems including congenital malformation, head injuries, paediatric brain tumors, intractable epilepsy, etc.

Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgery

Students will have the opportunity to attend rounds and clinics, as well as develop expertise in the examination of musculoskeletally injured and diseased children. The student will have the opportunity of following patients to the operating room for closed reductions of fractures, MSK reconstructive procedures, and see how these patients are managed on the ward.

Paediatric Plastic Surgery

Students will have the opportunity to attend rounds and clinics and develop expertise in the examination of musculoskeletally injured head and neck, upper-extremity, and burns of children. Opportunities include: following patients to the operating room for treatment, reconstructive procedures, and see how patients are managed on the ward. Students will become familiar with distinguishing variations of normal from pathological skin, peripheral nerve, craniofacial and upper extremity musculoskeletal problems in children;

Paediatric Cardiovascular

Students will be exposed to common congenital heart defects and their subsequent corrective surgeries while acting as a part of the team during rounds, clinic and in operating room. These common problems include: ventricular septal defect, patent ductus arteriosus, atrial septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, atrio-ventricular canal defect, and corarctation/hypoplastic aortic arch.

Paediatric Urology

Students will observe voiding dysfunction, urinary tract infections, congenital anatomical problems, and scrotal and penile pathology. There may also be exposure to pediatric urological trauma, stone disease, neurogenic bladder and pediatric urological malignancies. Students will also be exposed to common pediatric urology surgical procedures such as hydrocele/hernia repair, hypospadias repair and orchiopexy.

Plastic Surgery

Students will gain a basic understanding of common problems encountered by the plastic surgeon, including elective hand and peripheral nerve disease (i.e. trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, Dupuytren’s Contracture), emergency hand and nerve disease (i.e. tendon lacerations, infections, fractures, amputations, nerve injuries), benign and malignant skin lesions, musculoskeletal and soft tissue facial trauma, burns, acute and chronic wound care, post-traumatic and cancer reconstruction and microsurgery. They will learn about the presentation, pathophysiology, investigations and management of these problems in an ambulatory clinic and operating room setting.

Thoracic Surgery

Students are given the opportunity to participate in the multidisciplinary approach to treatment of thoracic malignancies, understand clinical presentation, staging and treatment of lung cancer and understand swallowing disorders and use of the esophageal function laboratory. This elective will take place in both ambulatory clinics and the operating room. Therefore, students are exposed to the anatomy of the thorax and proper postoperative patient care.


Students will take part in an integrated team based service with exposure to wards and emergency patients, major surgical cases, endoscopic procedures and outpatient clinics. Students will acquire exposure and develop an understanding of common urological pathologies including oncologic, trauma, stone diseases, voiding dysfunction and urinary tract infections.

Vascular Surgery

Students will gain a basic understanding of common problems encountered by the vascular surgeon, including carotid artery stenosis, subclavian artery steal syndrome, chronic arterial insufficiency, acute limb ischemia, peripheral arterial aneurysms and postphlebetic syndromes. Students will acquire familiarity with their relevant presentation, pathophysiology, investigations and management.

These electives are available to University of Ottawa students, and visiting Students.

First and Second year University of Ottawa students are to contact the office of the surgeon with whom they wish to complete a 10-20 hour observership. (Please visit the University of Ottawa First and Second Year Electives Catalogue for more information).

Third and Fourth year University of Ottawa students are to send a request to the Undergraduate Surgery Electives Assistant, Ceilidh Robertson-Jones crobertson@toh.ca, to arrange the preferred elective. Please include student name, preferred subspecialty and availability. (Please visit the Faculty of Medicine Third and Fourth Year Electives Catalogue for more information)

Visiting students electives are only available for clerkship students. An application to the University of Ottawa must be submitted before any elective can be requested with the Department of Surgery. Please consult the University of Ottawa Electives Catalogue for Visiting Students for more information, or contact the University of Ottawa Electives Coordinator, Julie Clavelle elective@uottawa.ca.