Background: The surgery clerkship director is a key individual in the surgery department's educational mission and yet there has been no prior effort to describe this group or identify their learning needs. The purpose of this study was to develop a demographic profile and an educational needs assessment for surgery clerkship directors. Methods: A survey instrument was designed based on existing literature and distributed to surgery clerkship directors in the United States and Canada. Results: Surveys were returned from 108 subjects (77%). The majority of clerkship directors strongly agree that directing is a positive experience but express concern that the job demands may impede their professional careers. The perceived educational needs identified related primarily to the development and management of the student education curriculum. Conclusions: Surgery clerkship directors are experienced academic surgeons who report high levels of satisfaction. They identify a number of important educational needs of the position and express concern about the requirements of the position on their academic careers. © 2003 Excerpta Medica Inc. All rights reserved.