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The goal of the General Surgery Residency is to provide the highest level of training to develop leaders in the practice of clinical and academic surgery. The program provides the opportunity for residents to learn in-depth the fundamentals of basic science as they are applied to clinical surgery, while also learning the surgical skills necessary to undertake the most complex and demanding surgical conditions.
The program provides outstanding experience in the preoperative, operative and postoperative care of patients in all areas that constitute the essential components of general surgery as specified by the ACGME and Surgical Review.
Through rotations at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State Children’s Hospital, Wellspan Surgical Specialists in Lebanon (Good Samaritan Hospital), UMPC Pinnacle Harrisburg and UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic, residents are exposed to the entire spectrum of general surgery, from a community hospital setting to a large quaternary referral and Level I Trauma Center.
The fully accredited program is approved to graduate five chief residents in general surgery per year. The first two years of the program are designed to provide a core experience in the principal components of general surgery and the surgical subspecialities. After the second year, many residents choose to pursue two years of additional training in areas such as basic science research, surgical education or health care delivery and outcomes research. Laboratory experience of two years is encouraged and available to those who wish to pursue an academic career. The third through fifth years of training are to provide an in-depth experience in trauma, acute care surgery, surgical oncology, endocrine surgery, minimally invasive surgery, vascular surgery, colon and rectal surgery and pediatric surgery.
The entire process provides a broad-based and well-balanced experience in surgery that allows graduates to be well-qualified to pursue advanced training in various fellowships as well as subsequent career paths in either academic or private-practice settings.
The program’s educational component is robust and offers each resident an extensive experience in didactic learning, surgical skills development and simulation training. In addition to weekly lectures by attendings, the program also utilizes weekly conferences, specialized small group sessions and one-on-one mentoring. Through the Clinical Simulation Center, residents have the opportunity to train on the latest in laparoscopic and clinical training simulators, to practice their surgical skills through biologic training sessions and to develop their team skills while participating in crisis resource management clinical scenarios.
The Simulation Center is a Level I American College of Surgeons (ACS) Accredited Education Institute as well as a Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) and Fundamental of Endoscopic Surgery (FES) approved test site.
In addition to the basic and clinical sciences, the program has incorporated topics such as ethics and residents as teachers into its curriculum.
Up to five individuals are selected as categorical general surgery residents, and eight are selected for the non-designated preliminary track. Residents from other surgical specialties also participate in the PGY-1 year, including Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Urology.
Three weeks of vacation are assigned throughout the year. In-house on-call responsibilities average every fourth to fifth night. There is a night-float rotation covering the core surgical disciplines.
Learn More about the Residency
General Application Information
The program uses ERAS (the Electronic Residency Application Service) for recruitment and match.
Three interview dates are scheduled from November through January each academic year. The Friday evening prior to the interview, there is a social gathering that gives the applicants the opportunity to meet the residents in a relaxed atmosphere.
The interviews occur the next day and consist of three formal interviews: two with faculty members and one with a senior-level resident. Between interviews, the applicant has the opportunity to interact with residents and faculty and to tour Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The interview day concludes with lunch with the faculty and residents. Afterward, the candidates are free to depart, and are encouraged to take time to explore all that there is to do in the Hershey area.
There are several services on which residents rotate during the five clinical years.
- The Vascular Service has five attending surgeons. There is a Vascular Surgery Residency.
- The Surgical Oncology Service has seven attendings.
- The Minimally Invasive/Bariatric Surgery Service has four attendings. More advanced laparoscopic procedures are performed on this service, and the team supports a Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery Fellowship.
- The Transplant Service has three faculty members.
- The Trauma, Acute Care and Critical Care Surgery Service has five attendings. They accept all trauma and acute care surgical patients. They also support a Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Fellowship and a Surgical Critical Care Fellowship.
- The Thoracic Surgery Service has three attendings. They support a Thoracic Surgery Fellowship.
- The Pediatric Surgery Service has eight attendings. This is a busy, active pediatric service serving all of mid-state Pennsylvania.
- The General Surgery/Endocrine Service has three attendings.
- The Colon and Rectal Surgery Service has five attendings. There is a Colon and Rectal Surgery Residency.
Penn State Health
Penn State Health is a multi-hospital health system serving patients and communities across 29 counties of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to improve health through patient care, research, education and community outreach.
In December 2017, the system partnered with Highmark Health to facilitate creation of a value-based, community care network in the region. The shared goal of Highmark and Penn State Health is to ensure patients in the community are within:
- 10 minutes of a Penn State Health primary care provider
- 20 minutes of Penn State Health specialty care
- 30 minutes of a Penn State Health acute care facility
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
500 University Dr., Hershey, Pa., 17033 (Derry Township, Dauphin County)
- The health system’s 548-bed flagship teaching and research hospital
- The only medical facility in Pennsylvania accredited as both an adult and a pediatric Level I (highest-level) trauma center
- Dedicated surgical, neuroscience, cardiovascular, trauma and medical intensive care units
- Accredited Life Lion critical-care transport providing more than 1,100 helicopter and approximately 750 ground ambulance transports per year
- More than 1,300 faculty members and more than 650 residents and fellows
- Approximately 28,500 admissions, 75,000 emergency department visits, 1.1 million outpatient visits and 32,000 surgical procedures annually
- Designated as a Magnet hospital three times
Penn State Children’s Hospital
600 University Dr., Hershey, Pa. 17033 (Derry Township, Dauphin County)
- A five-story, 263,000-square-foot-facility built in 2013
- Three-floor expansion due to open in 2020
- Level IV (highest-level) neonatal intensive care unit
- Level I (highest-level) pediatric trauma center designation
- Dedicated pediatric operating rooms
- More than 150,000 pediatric outpatient visits and approximately 5,000 pediatric patient discharges annually
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Department of Surgery
General Surgery Residency
500 University Dr.
Hershey, PA 17033
Overall Training Program
The General Surgery Residency is structured to provide residents with graduated responsibilities in the primary components of general surgery over five years of training. Each year is constructed to build on the experiences of the preceding level.
The core curriculum in general surgery is designed to provide residents with a strong knowledge base in the fundamentals of diagnosis and treatment of surgical diseases. The overall schedule is structured on SCORE (Surgical Council on Resident Education) and is on a two-year cycle. The curriculum is highly integrated with didactic sessions, case-based learning lectures, surgical techniques and skills sessions.
The teaching of medical students assigned to the service is an important aspect of daily responsibilities for residents.
Three hours of protected time every Thursday morning are devoted to education. Each Thursday morning generally consists of a one-hour lecture on a SCOPE-based topic. The subsequent two hours may then be spent in case-based learning, small group seminars and simulation skills sessions.
The overall objective is to develop residents through in-depth experience in managing surgical patients in a variety of situations and disciplines while developing basic surgical technical skills.
First and Second Years
The first and second years of the General Surgery Residency are designed to provide the individual with the experience necessary to develop a foundation in the core components of general surgery and the surgery subspecialties.
The first-year resident has primary responsibility for directing the pre- and postoperative care of patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings under the direct supervision of a senior resident and attending surgeon. These responsibilities include history and physical examinations, daily management of inpatient service and participation in approved-level surgical presentations.
In July and August, there is a special Fundamentals of Surgery intern course designed to review basic clinical management scenarios and patient management problems.
Throughout the year, there are also separate intern skills sessions to allow the first-year residents to further develop and practice basic surgical techniques and procedures.
The second year builds on these experiences while introducing the responsibilities of surgical consultation.
Third through Fifth Years
In the third through fifth years, service leadership is stressed.
Penn State Health, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital
UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg
UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg is a 400-bed urban community hospital in the city of Harrisburg, Pa. It provides advanced medical and surgical care to its surrounding area.
UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic
UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic is located off Union Deposit Road in suburban Harrisburg, Pa., approximately 20 minutes from Hershey. The Osteopathic campus includes an acute-care hospital, medical sciences pavilion, cancer center, outpatient center and multiple physician practices and specialty offices.
Wellspan Surgical Specialists in Lebanon (Good Samaritan Hospital)
The Wellspan Surgical Specialists in Lebanon (Good Samaritan Hospital) rotation is located in Lebanon, Pa., approximately 30 minutes from Hershey. This rotation provides a high-volume, general surgery experience that may include, but is not limited to, open abdominal surgery, laparoscopic and robotic operations, as well as both upper and lower endoscopy. While the experience will be highly operative with several days per week spent in the operating room, the residents will also attend outpatient clinic to evaluate patients both pre- and post-operatively.
In addition to division-specific conferences and the Thursday morning education conference, there are three mandatory conferences for the General Surgery Residency.
Morbidity and Mortality Conference
Morbidity and Mortality Conference occurs at 5 p.m. every Wednesday afternoon. Residents are responsible for presenting cases that are chosen for their educational and management learning points. The assigned resident is expected to develop a PowerPoint presentation and to review it with the responsible attending prior to the conference.
Grand Rounds Conferences
Grand Rounds with visiting professors occur at 5 p.m. every Thursday.
Journal Club takes place monthly during the academic year and is incorporated into the Thursday Education Conference.
Many divisions have their own specialty-based conferences. A representative schedule may include the following:
- Colon and Rectal Surgery
- Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery
- Pediatric Surgery
- Plastic Surgery
- Surgical Oncology
- Trauma/Critical Care
- Vascular Surgery
Career Development in Research
The Department of Surgery has a broad research program, and all divisions maintain active basic research labs or clinical research labs.
As part of an academic institution, the expectation is that most, if not all, of the surgical residents will spend a two-year period immersed in basic science or clinical research.
Prospective residents should expect to spend two years pursuing career development in research that helps to better prepare them for their future medical careers.
Current and past residents have taken the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees during this time period, and the opportunity exists to complete a number of master’s degree programs through Penn State or Penn State World Campus.
Residents have also participated in laboratories outside of the department, both within Penn State College of Medicine and other institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, returning after their career-development years to resume clinical training in Hershey.
While residents are encouraged to pursue external funding sources, limited support is available through the Department of Surgery for qualified individuals and projects.
Learn More About Research
- Research in the Department of Surgery
- Research in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Research in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology
The possibility of pursuing an advanced degree in a number of areas within the Penn State system exists during the two years of career development between the second and third clinical years. Degrees available include:
- Master of Education
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Science
- Master of Public Health
- Master of Health Administration
Penn State College of Medicine’s global surgery initiative aims to enhance access to safe, essential surgical care in impoverished areas across the globe.
The vision is to educate future leaders in global surgery while promoting positive changes in accessing and providing essential surgical care. The central focus of the program is to address the burden of surgical disease in impoverished areas through research, innovation and sustained collaboration with our host nation partners.
- Increase surgical capacity in low- and middle-income countries.
- Conduct novel research in low resource settings to identify the epidemiology of surgical diseases in impoverished areas and barriers to accessing safe surgical care.
- Provide mentorship in global surgery for residents, fellows and medical students in order to prepare them for service in low-resource settings.
- Embody the core values of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center – respect, integrity, teamwork and excellence – in the practice of global surgery.
Global Surgery Team
Resident Honors and Recognitions
Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center accept ongoing nominations for the Exceptional Moments in Teaching award.
The award, given monthly by the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment, accepts nominations from College of Medicine students who are invited to submit narratives about faculty members, residents, fellows, nurses or any other educators who challenge them and provide an exceptional learning experience. See more about the award here.
Previous nominees from the General Surgery Residency are listed here. Click the + next to a nominee name to read their nominator’s comments.
The annual Resident/Fellow Research Day is held each summer on and around the Penn State Health Milton S. Medical Center campus in Hershey, PA.
The intent of the event is to provide an opportunity for residents and fellows to showcase their research accomplishments to their peers in other clinical departments, as well as their colleagues in the basic sciences.
Previous presentations from the General Surgery Residency are listed here.
General Surgery Residency trainees have presented both podium and poster presentations at many conferences, including:
- AAMC Integrated Quality Meeting
- Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Summit
- Academic Surgical Congress (Society of University Surgeons)
- ACGME Annual Education Conference and ACGME-CLER (Clinical Learning Environment Review) Conference
- Advances in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Crohn’s and Colitis Foundations’ Clinical and Research Conference
- American Association of Thoracic Surgeons American College of Surgeons
- American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program National Conference
- American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions
- American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer
- American Heart Association Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary
- Association American Professional Wound Care Association Meeting
- American Society for Clinical Pathology Annual Meeting
- American Society of Anesthesiologists Annual Meeting
- American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons Annual Meeting
- American Society of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgeons
- Annual Conference on Shock
- Annual Congress of American Hepato Pancreato Biliary Association
- Annual Hernia Repair Symposium
- Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma
- Annual Meeting of the Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Society
- Annual Metabolic Diseases World Summit
- Annual Research Conference on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer
- Association for Academic Surgery-Annual Academic Surgical Congress
- Association for Surgical Education
- Biological and Medical Data Analysis, International Symposium
- Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons Annual Meeting
- Central Surgical Association
- Clinical Robotic Surgery Association Worldwide Congress
- Clinical Meeting of the Frederick A. Coller Surgical Society
- Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Conference
- Design of Medical Devices Conference
- Digestive Disease Week ESMO World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer
- European Society of Gene & Cell Therapy
- Experimental Biology
- Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting
- International Conference on Na,K-ATPase and Related Cation Pumps
- International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
- International Pediatric Endosurgery Group Annual Congress
- Keystone American College of Surgeons
- Minimally Invasive Surgery Week
- Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgeons
- Pediatric Trauma Society Annual Meeting
- Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Grand Rounds
- Pennsylvania Colon and Rectal Society
- Pennsylvania Society of Bariatric Surgery
- Regional Cancer Therapies
- Sanctuary of Endovascular Therapy Meeting
- Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting
- Society for Vascular Ultrasound Annual Conference
- Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons Minimally Invasive Surgery Week
- Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting
- Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Cancer Symposium
- Surgical Education Week
- The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract
- Western Thoracic Surgical Association
- World Conference for Abdominal Wall Hernia Surgery
- World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery
- World Congress on Health Economics
General Surgery Residency trainees have published in many journals and written book chapters, including items for:
- American Journal of Surgery
- American Journal of Physiology
- Anatomical Record
- Annals of Surgery
- Annals of Surgical Oncology
- Annals of Vascular Surgery
- Archives of Surgery
- Bioactive Materials
- Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons
- Clinical Oncology in Adolescents and Young Adults
- Clinical Radiology
- Colorectal Disease
- Critical Care Medicine
- Diseases of the Colon and Rectum
- Digestive Diseases and Sciences
- Fertility and Sterility
- Frontiers in Microbiology
- Gastric Cancer
- Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
- Health Services Insights Hernia : The Journal of Hernias and Abdominal Wall Surgery
- International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
- International Journal of Surgical Pathology
- Journal of Arthroplasty
- Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis
- Journal of Clinical Oncology
- Journal of Emergency Medicine
- Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
- Journal of Neurosurgery
- Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
- Journal of Pediatric Surgery
- Journal of Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery
- Journal of Reproductive Immunology
- Journal of Robotic Surgery
- Journal of Surgical Research
- Journal of Surgical Oncology
- Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
- Journal of the American College of Surgeons
- Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
- Journal of the CardioMetabolic Syndrome
- Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
- Journal of Trauma
- Microscopy Research and Technique
- Oncology Reports
- Pediatric Emergency Care
- Pediatric Radiology
- Surgical Endoscopy
- The American Surgeon
- The Breast Journal
- World Journal of Emergency General Surgery
- World Journal of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy