UpSurge: Surgery Mentorship Program  Upsurge logo

UpSurge is a mentorship program aimed at stimulating interest, providing support, and guiding underrepresented students in pursuing surgical careers. This entails long-term, goal-oriented strategies for providing exposure to the different surgical specialties, ensuring resource availability, and facilitating networking opportunities.

The program is available to trainees and medical students from underrepresented ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. UpSurge is supported by Dr. Sav Brar (Program Director, Division of General Surgery) and a group of dedicated residents.

See below for more inforamtion.


Sign Up as a Mentor

Mentorship in the Faculty of Medicine

Diversity Mentorship Program
DMP connects 1st and 2nd year medical students from equity-seeking groups to faculty physician mentors.

Community of Support  
The program provides mentorship, admission support, and medical school application guidance. This includes the MCAT Student Support Program (MSSP).

Summer Mentorship Program
SMP offers high school students of Indigenous or African ancestry a chance to explore health sciences.

Med Youth Summer Program
MedYSP offers an exclusive glimpse into the world of medicine and medical research to high school students.


More about UpSurge

Program Lead: Dr. Savtaj Brar, MD, MSc, F.R.C.S.C
Program Director, General Surgery, University of Toronto
Program Co-Leads: Adom, Betty, Preet (General Surgery Residents, UofT)

It is well established nationally and globally that there is a lack of diversity in medicine, and Departments of Surgery nationally are similarly devoid of diversity. There is a huge need to promote inclusion and support Indigenous, Black, Filipino, economically disadvantaged, immigrants, refugees or who self-identify with having a disability at any stage of their journey to surgical career.

We as a group of surgery physicians and residents recognized the lack of mentorship opportunities specifically in the Department of Surgery for undergraduate, and medical students from underrepresented ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. 

UpSurge aims to stimulate interest, provide support and guidance to underrepresented students in pursuing a career in the field of Surgery. This will entail long term goal-oriented mentorship, provide exposure to surgical specialties, resource availability, guidance on career success, and opportunities for networking in the field of surgery.

We know there are external factors such as opportunity cost associated with lengthy duration of surgical residency programs, and lack of mentorship that influence students’ decision in choice of specialty. Our program hopes to eliminate some of these external barriers and provide support to students from diverse ethnic and socio-economic groups that are underrepresented in the field of Surgery.

The program will be supported by the Department of General Surgery, Toronto and led by the General Surgery Program Director ,Dr. Savtaj Brar along with a team of General Surgery residents.

We are writing to invite you to help ensure success of this program. We hope you will be interested in signing up to become a mentor for undergraduate and medical students who are interested in pursuing a career in Surgery. We are confident this mentorship will be invaluable to the students and would appreciate your efforts and time. Please feel free to contact us with any suggestions or comments. We look forward to hearing from you.

Application Criteria

Application Criteria (for mentee) (how to measure interest):

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Provide a brief description of why you are interested in this program and what you wish to achieve through this mentorship (around 500 words).
  • What university are you enrolled in?
  • Are there any particular characteristics that you would like in your mentor (eg. specific surgical specialty, ethnic background, gender, where they pursued their university education)?

What would mentees get out of this program?

  • Career guidance and support from professionals in Surgery field of interest
  • Networking opportunities in their field of interest
  • Research and observership opportunities specific to their field of interest
  • Guidance for opportunities to develop skills such as communication, leadership, and collaboration.

Impact Measure

The mentors and mentees will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire every 6 months for an update on the impact of this mentorship program. This will include qualitative and quantitative measures (eg. new opportunities, their success in acquiring research opportunities or observerships, whether they are able to meet their short term goals, their rating of how useful this program is for them, and feedback on how to improve).

Duration of mentorship

This will be a long term mentorship. The duration could range from one year to a few years depending on the mentee’s current education level and their career goals. Ideally, the mentorship will continue till the mentee is enrolled in their specific surgery field of interest and can continue even beyond.

Matching Process

Mentees will be matched with mentors in their field of interest who are either currently pursuing a surgical residency or are appointment surgical faculty members. We will seek information on mentees’ specific specialty interest or any other preferences and match appropriately.

Mentor qualifications (please see sign up survey for full details)

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • What is your current role (resident, surgery staff), in what field (eg. general surgery, cardiac surgery, neurosurgery), and what school/institution?
  • The program requires that you be available to mentor the student (1 hour or less per week, and more during the application and interview time). Would you be able to commit this much time?