The Division of General Surgery at the University of Virginia currently includes six full time attending surgeons with training representing the entire spectrum of surgical experience. All faculty members have full-time appointments to the University of Virginia with adjunct teaching appointments to the Salem Veterans Administration Hospital in Salem, Virginia. All members of the Division actively engage in the academic mission of the Department of Surgery – clinical excellence, teaching and research. Members of the Division of General Surgery have won Medical School and University Teaching Awards, received NIH grant support, and have spoken at national and international symposiums on a wide range of topics. All members of the Division of General Surgery are either American Board of Surgery diplomates or are Board eligible. Dr. Bruce Schirmer has served as a Director of the American Board of Surgery and several others serve on advisory committees to the Board and to the American College of Surgeons. Several have leadership positions in national surgical societies.
Section of Laparoscopic Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery is an essential part of clinical training in General Surgery. Dr. Bruce Schirmer is a nationally recognized laparoscopic surgeon who introduced the modern techniques of laparoscopic cholecystectomy to UVA in 1990. He is a past President of SAGES. Since then, thousands of laparoscopic procedures have been done by UVA faculty and residents. Surgical residents are exposed to laparoscopic approaches to appendectomy, colectomy, gastrectomy, pancreatectomy, hepatic resection, adrenalectomy, donor nephrectomy for transplantation, as well as bariatric procedures. Resident case loads in these advanced procedures easily exceed three times the required volume suggested by the American Board of Surgery.
A Laparoscopic Fellowship was initiated in 1999 and has been extremely successful. This Fellow has served as a Clinical Instructor during their Fellowship year and, as such, participates fully as care and resident teaching.
Dr. Charles Friel joined the Colorectal Surgical Service in 2001.During this time, he had worked closely with the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine, to provide a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for patients with colorectal diseases. These procedures take advantage of a wide range of collaboration in endoscopy, laparoscopic and open colon resection procedures, as well as evaluation of patients of all ages with inflammatory bowel disease, anorectal problems and bowel malignancies. Dr. Friel and his partner, Dr. Traci Hedrick, work closely with the UVA Digestive Disease Center of Excellence which has been a vital collaboration for the Section of Colorectal Surgery. Currently, Dr. Friel performs over 300 major procedures and over 100 endoscopics each year with the Surgical Residents. This experience more than doubles the minimum requirements by the American Board of Surgery.
Dr. Hedrick completed her General Surgery Residency at the University of Virginia in 2009. She went on to complete a Colorectal Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 and then returned to UVA in Charlottesville to join Dr. Friel. Dr. Hedrick has been a recognized leader in bringing to UVA minimally invasive techniques and clinical protocol for decreasing the length of stay for colorectal patients.
Section of Endocrine Surgery
The University of Virginia Division of Endocrinology has consistently been in the Top 10 programs in the country as evaluated by US News and World Report. Dr. Hanks, Professor Emeritus of Endocrine Surgery has over a 30 year collaboration with this group in clinical and research efforts, and Dr. Smith has collaborated with this group for over 10 years. Patients of all ages with adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid and endocrine neoplasms of the pancreas are evaluated in a multidisciplinary fashion. We provide internationally recognized expertise in diagnosis, the latest techniques in minimally invasive surgery, laparoscopy, image guided surgery and intraoperative hormone analysis.
Dr. Smith is fellowship trained in endocrine surgery and his focus is the surgical management of thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal diseases. He performs in excess of 300 thyroid and parathyroid procedures annually, placing him well above the definitions of a “high-volume surgeon” for all of these procedures. Dr. Smith performs more surgery for thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal problems than any surgeon in the area and offers the latest in minimally invasive approaches to adrenal lesions – which are not offered at most centers.
Dr. Schenk collaborates with the division of nephrology in offering surgical services for patients with renal failure and secondary and tertiary hyperparathyroidism. Drs. Schenk and Smith have extensive experience in patient centered imaging strategies for endocrine diseases.
The faculty members in the Division of General Surgery are fully responsible for the clinical care and disposition of their patients. Additionally, the academic mission places strong emphasis on resident exposure in the operating room, clinics and in the research setting. To that end, the Division of General Surgery strongly believes that the Resident is a supervised colleague of the faculty member. All faculty members work to increase the individual resident’s sense of responsibility in the workup and ultimate disposition in patient care. Surgical cases and clinic exposure to patients are supervised by attending faculty members. As such, the resident who obtains the level of Chief Resident has excellent credentials in patient management, clinical understanding of disease processess, as well as a background in research in a specialized area. All members of the Division of General Surgery are actively involved in resident teaching conferences and case presentations.
In the Division of General Surgery, the average caseload for an attending surgeon exceeds 300 major procedures a year. Each attending has one or two clinics per week. Chief Residents head four general surgery teams and each general surgery team has an active schedule which usually includes three operating days and two clinic days. The fifth Chief Resident heads the surgical service at the Salem VA Hospital. A Fourth Year Resident currently serves as a Chief Resident at Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville, Virginia.
The University of Virginia Hospital expanded into the new operating rooms in 1989. At this time, 29 major operating rooms are available, of which six are used by the General Surgery Division. Ambulatory surgery is performed in 6 operating rooms in the free-standing Outpatient Surgery Center. Clinics are available in the Cancer Center, Digestive Health Center and, Primary Care Building. Research laboratories are available in the MR4 facilities and allows ample research space for funded members of the Department.
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