Surgery is the treatment of surgical conditions and disease through operation. For many conditions surgery alone is the definitive treatment, for many others surgery may play a role in multidisciplinary management. Operations may be performed to cure disease or conditions (curative), to diagnose (diagnostic) or to relieve suffering without curing disease (palliative). Surgeons must have a detailed knowledge of the conditions which they treat, ranging from the clinical features and pathology, to the anatomy and physiology of the organ systems affected. The surgeon must also be aware of all the treatment options available for these conditions. Surgical disease may be divided into a number of core areas with substantial overlap into general medicine. The undergraduate student is required to develop a broad knowledge the role of surgery in these core areas as well as becoming familiar with general surgical principles and understanding the common elective and emergency surgical conditions and operations. Development of clinical skills is the essential basis of surgery and an essential prerequisite to the practice of surgery.

Following pre-clinical training, and beginning at the end of Third year, Students of the Faculty of Medicine at Trinity College attend clinical attachments centred in both St James's and Tallaght University Hospital. A limited number of Students both from Ireland and abroad may attend either hospital for elective clinical attachments during their training.