Faculty Profile

Barbara Pettitt, MD

Barbara J. Pettitt, MD

Professor of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine

Director, Medical Student Education, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine (encompasses Surgical Clerkship and M4 Programs)






American Board of Surgery; Certificate of Special Competence in Pediatric Surgery; Certificate of Special Competence in Surgical Critical Care; Instructor, Advanced Trauma Life Support

Year Joined Emory as a Faculty Member:



Dr. Pettitt began directing the department's M3 surgical clerkship in 2002 and its M4 programs in 2004. In 2010, these leadership roles were subsumed within her appointment to director of medical student education for the Department of Surgery.

She has coordinated, managed, and presented a wide array of didactic courses and skills labs to our medical students and surgical residents. She has enhanced the scope of Emory surgical trainees' learning experiences by spearheading the development of electronic teaching sites; devising learning objectives, instructional guidelines, and assessment checklists for various simulation training modules of the American College of Surgeons/Association of Surgical Education's Medical Student Simulation-Based Surgical Skills Curriculum; initiating educational simulation scenarios in trauma evaluation and management; and developing a variety of teaching modules, including surgical dictation, resident wellness, opioid prescription, and stop the bleed modules.

In addition to the many medical students she has introduced to surgery, Dr. Pettitt's prior tenures as chief of surgery at Hughes Spalding Children's Hospital (now Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding), chief of pediatric surgical services for the Grady Health System, and director of education for the Emory Endosurgery Unit allowed her to influence hundreds of surgical and pediatric residents during their rotations. She also managed the surgery follow-up clinics that capped Emory's medical student-led surgical trips to Haiti from 2012-2018, which were staffed by teams of faculty attendings, residents, and medical students known collectively as the Emory Haiti Alliance.

In 2020, the Department of Surgery established the Barbara J. Pettitt Medical Student Teaching Award to honor surgery residents for excellence in teaching medical students.


View Dr. Pettitt's publications in PubMed.


  • Grady Health System

  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston


  • MD, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, Class of 1976

  • General Surgery Internship and Residency, Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center, 1976-1981

  • Pediatric Surgery Fellowship, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, 1982-1984

Honors and Awards

  • Academy of Clerkship Directors, Association for Surgical Education, 2018

  • Best Clerkship Director, Emory University School of Medicine, Classes of 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018

  • Evangeline T. Papageorge Distinguished Teaching Award, Emory University, 2017

  • Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award, Association of Women Surgeons, 2014

  • Sir William Osler Society, Honorary Inductee, Emory University School of Medicine, 2014

  • Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Inductee, Emory Chapter, 2013

  • Dean's Teaching Award, Emory University School of Medicine, 2010-2011

  • Distinguished Service Award, Emory Pipeline Program, 2010-2011

  • Philip J. Wolfson Outstanding Teaching Award, Association for Surgical Education/Association of Program Directors, 2009

Current Organizational Memberships

  • American College of Surgeons, Fellow

  • American College of Surgeons, Georgia Chapter

  • ACS/APDS/ASE Entering Surgery Resident Prep Curriculum Committee

  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow, Surgical Section

  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Georgia Chapter

  • American Pediatric Surgical Association

  • Association for Surgical Education

  • Alpha Omega Alpha

  • Georgia Coalition of Medical Educators (charter member)
  • Medical Association of Atlanta

  • Medical Association of Georgia

  • Southeastern Surgical Congress

Special Interests

  • Surgical and medical education, including evaluation of instructional and assessment methods, needs assessments of various learner populations, and validation of instruction and assessment of various methods of technical skills training

  • Pediatric injury prevention and school disaster planning