Nonphysician Professional Educators

Laura Torbeck, PhD

Laura Torbeck, PhD

Welcome, new professional educators to the exciting and somewhat daunting field of surgery!

Core to the success of the Association for Surgical Education (ASE) is the group of nonphysician professional educators who strive to bring education rigor to surgical education by enhancing teaching, research and professional development endeavors.

These individuals have either a masters or doctorate degree in education or a related field and offer added value through their alternative perspectives on topics, trends, and problems in medical education. Currently there are over 50 nonphysician professional educators working in surgery.

We welcome new professional educators and appreciate the valuable contributions that the experienced professional educators have provided throughout the years. We invite you to explore the resources we have assembled here.

Quick Navigation

About Laura Torbeck | 2019 Annual Meeting Events | Educator Spotlights | List of Nonphysician Educators | Selected Readings

About Laura Torbeck, PhD

Vice Chair for Professional Development, Surgical Educator
Assistant Dean for Educational Affairs and Faculty Development
Indiana University School of Medicine

As a professional educator who began my career in surgery back in 2004 as the Department of Surgery’s first Surgical Educator, I remember the challenge of getting started with a blank slate. Our roles, responsibilities and expectations are likely very new and different from our doctoral and masters training programs. Having a support system and identified resources is essential to making the transition into surgery a smooth and successful one.

​The selected readings below can help you get a sense of what has been written about non physician professional educators in surgery. The ASE main website also has resources for education and research. For networking, joining ASE and attending the ASE annual spring meeting will allow you to join committees, meet other professional educators, and gain awareness of surgery education initiatives and research innovation.

​Finally, if you would like to have an individual consultation with me to help navigate your new position or career in surgery as a professional educator, I would be delighted to schedule a time for a phone call.

​As your liaison to establishing yourself as a professional educator in surgery, I welcome you once again.

2019 Annual Meeting Events

Nonphysician Professional Educator Development Session

Friday April 26, 2019 9:30-11 am in the Royal Room

Session title:  How would the professional educator reimagine surgical education? A guided discussion.
Facilitator: Beth Littleton, PhD

Session Description: The theme of 2019’s presidential address for both the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the AMA’s new grant program, is “Reimagining Education.” Nonphysician professional educators are trained and experienced in fields that historically have shaped education including the learning and industrial psychologies, education, philosophy, anthropology, sociolinguistics, decision sciences, sports and human performance, and more. Yet surgical education research has not leveraged these fields nearly enough. The purpose of this session is to simply bring out and dust off that knowledge with the intent of leaving the session with new hypotheses about the training environment, tomorrow’s surgeon, etc. Dr. Littleton will guide the group with three questions:

What unique gifts and knowledge do we bring to surgical education?

What would you replace in surgical education and what would you replace it with?

What are some enduring ideas or new education approaches could help us reimagine surgical education?

The session will end with some ideas for new lines of research to answer the call for reimagining surgical education.

Educator Spotlights

Nonphysician Professional Educators List

The ASE and Dr. Torbeck have shared a list of nonphysician professional educators. If you are a member of the ASE, please login to your member account and you will be able to see and contact the listed educators via emails.  If you are not logged in, you will only see their names and institutions.

Selected Readings

  1. Rosenberg H and Polonsky B. The role of nonphysician consultants as health-care educators in postgraduate programs of anesthesiology. Acad Med 1990; 119-122.
  2. Mendoza K, Hauge L, DaRosa D. The responsibilities and contributions of professional educators in surgery departments. AJS 2004; 188:126-130.
  3. Risenberg LA, Little BW, Wright V. Nonphysician medical educators: A literature review and job description resource. Academic Medicine 2009; 84(8):1078-1088.
  4. Torbeck et al. How to recruit, retain, and reap the rewards of working with PhD/EdD educators in surgery. JSE 2012; 70(2): 212-216.
  5. Sanfey H, Boehler M, DaRosa D, Dunnington G. Career development needs of vice chairs for education in departments of surgery. JSE 2012; 69(2):156-461.
  6. Tarpley M, Davidson M, and Tarpley J. The role of the nonphysician educator in general surgery residency training: from outcome project and duty-hours restrictions to the next accreditation system and milestones. JSE 2013; 71(1): 119-124.