Background An important reason for young surgeons entering academic practice is to educate trainees. As clinical and administrative responsibility increases, teaching time is decreased. We attempted to determine if the teaching performance of surgeons declines with career advancement. Methods Between July 1998 and June 2002, all faculty at our institution were evaluated by medical students on the surgical clerkship. Surgeons were scored on clinical teaching (CLINIC), operating room teaching (OR), and overall teaching (ALL) with the use of a 4-point scale. Surgeons were grouped by years in practice; group scores were compared with ANOVA. Results A total of 6345 evaluations were completed on 74 academic surgeons. Junior surgeons (≤5 years) performed better in operating room teaching (P<.001), clinical teaching (P<.001), and overall teaching (P<.001) compared with those in practice more than 5 years. When junior surgeons were compared with the most senior faculty (≥15 years), the difference in all categories was even greater (P<.001). Tenure status had no relationship to teaching ability. Conclusions Junior faculty surgeons were perceived to be more effective teachers when compared to senior faculty. With career advancement, faculty may devote less energy to teaching and become less effective. Therefore, continued emphasis should be placed on strengthening education skills throughout the surgical career.