Spotlight: National Transplant Surgery Curriculum

Dr. Marc MelcherTo keep ASTS members up to date with the Society’s work on their behalf, the Chimera spotlights significant Society initiatives. This issue, we feature a conversation with Dr. Marc Melcher, Chair of the ASTS Curriculum Committee. The National Transplant Surgery Curriculum launched in 2008 and has grown to more than 120 modules, which are mandatory for ASTS fellows but available to all ASTS members in the Academic Universe.

The National Transplant Surgery Curriculum plays an important role in training the next generation of transplant surgeons. The ASTS Curriculum Committee is seeking expertise and insight in updating the curriculum. If you are interested in assisting the committee in updating modules, please contact

What is the Curriculum Committee’s role in maintaining the Curriculum?

The Curriculum Committee views the National Transplant Surgery Curriculum as a living and evolving document representing the knowledge base that a junior transplant surgery attending should have as they begin their careers. Every ASTS fellow is expected to complete this curriculum as part of their ASTS-accredited fellowship. It has been created and curated by our membership over the past 11 years, and the Curriculum Committee systematically reviews the content to determine whether it needs to be updated and/or improved.

What is a module? What are the elements included in a module?

Each module tries to distill a focused area of solid organ transplantation into a video presentation less than 20 minutes long. These videos are viewable on a wide assortment of computers and mobile devices. The hope is that our busy transplant fellows can take advantage of this platform during short breaks to view modules. In addition, we publish the goals and objectives for each presentation and a few board-style multiple choice questions.

How does the curriculum fit into the requirements for the ASTS Fellowship?

Fellows are required to view the 123 modules prior to completing their fellowship. The curriculum has increased in importance, perhaps, because a written exam is now a fellowship requirement for all fellows starting in 2018. The content and quality of the National Transplant Surgery Curriculum will become even more important, as the exam outline is based on the units within the National Transplant Surgery Curriculum.

How can ASTS members get involved in supporting the development of the curriculum?

We encourage members of ASTS to be engaged in multiple ways. First, if you have fellows, please encourage early and regular use of the modules so that they get the most out of it. Second, please give us direct feedback on improvements that can be made. The feedback is essential for continuously improving this dynamic knowledge base. Third, as we update modules, we are always seeking out new authors to participate. We provide guidelines and templates to facilitate new talks. We will also be highlighting contributions to the curriculum to acknowledge these contributions.

Why do you feel it is important that ASTS members are involved in the development of the curriculum?

This curriculum is a dynamic living document created and owned by the membership.  We work in a rapidly developing field that requires us to actively curate the curriculum.  No one is more qualified than our membership to be involved. The curriculum defines what we as a Society think is important for junior surgeons to know as we try to attract the best and brightest into our fellowships.

In what ways are the Curriculum Committee and ASTS staff working to improve the curriculum?

In addition to systematically reviewing and continually updating the curriculum, the staff and committee members are dedicated to improving the structure and infrastructure of the curriculum While a video-based curriculum was cutting-edge 12 years ago, we need to consider new technologies that make the use of the curriculum more engaging and efficient.