Resident Education


residents at AATS
The General Surgery Program at the University of Virginia offers a unique commitment to the residents through a rigorous clinical experience, dedicated research and a structured curriculum striving to create the future leaders in academic surgery. During the five-years of the clinical program, residents gain knowledge of the pre-operative and post-operative patient care with a strong focus on critical care, develop surgical technical skills and most importantly, acquire pre-, intra-, and post-operative decision making skills.

All residents spend at least one month of dedicated and protected research time and most residents spend one to three years in the NIH-funded clinical or basic science research laboratories combining academic excellence with clinical expertise.

We have a strong tradition of education. At UVA, residents will attend weekly and daily conferences as part of their curriculum. Faculty are dedicated to resident education at a departmental and individual level. Residents are dedicated to the education of other residents and of students. It is a culture and an expectation that residents in our program seek opportunities to educate. Many UVA students cite this as a reason to seek entrance to our residency, and the plethora of teaching awards won by our residents stand as evidence to this fact. A grossly disproportionate percentage of teaching awards available in our institution are won by the Department of Surgery.

Resident Education per Year


residentstraining2During their intern year, general surgery residents will be exposed to the majority of surgical specialties.  They will complete 4 week rotations in the following: Blue surgery (colorectal), Orange surgery (laparoscopy, upper GI, bariatric), Gold surgery (surgical oncology, endocrine), Green surgery (hepatobiliary), Plastic surgery, Cardiothoracic or Vascular surgery, Transplant surgery, Surgical critical care, Surgical Nutrition & Endoscopy, Pediatric surgery and Night float. Most of their time is spent learning pre-operative and post-operative patient management and acquiring basic surgical skills in the operating room or in the surgical skills laboratory. The incoming intern class consists of approximately 17 residents, 5 of whom are in the categorical general surgery program.


photo of uva resident trainingGreater responsibility, autonomy and a higher level of surgical skills are acquired during the second year. Residents focus extensively on the management of critically ill patients, participate in basic laparoscopic cases, but also learn more advance techniques of vascular surgery as they rotate through transplant & vascular access service, Trauma and Cardiovascular/Thoracic intensive care unit, Endoscopy and Vascular surgery. During the second year, residents have the opportunity to care for the veterans as they spend several months at the Veterans’ Hospital in Salem Virginia. Second year residents also start to function as the general surgery consult resident in close coordination with a chief resident.

Following completion of the second year, residents are encouraged to pursue basic science or clinical research.


An in-depth look at the surgical education with a specific focus on patient evaluation and operating occurs during the third year of residency. Four to five months are typically spent on general surgery services, one to two months on Surgical oncology, Thoracic surgery and Acute Care Surgery. In addition, the third year residents act as the first line surgical consultant.


During the fourth year residents spend much more time functioning as the chief of service. Residents rotate on Pediatric Surgery, Vascular, Trauma and Red (endocrine) surgery. One block is spent at Augusta Medical Center, a busy community hospital, in Fishersville, VA.



photo of uva residents training
By the fifth year, our residents emerge as skilled surgeons performing complex cases and perfecting their surgical techniques and clinical decision making skills. The Chief general surgery rotations include Blue surgery (colorectal), Orange surgery (laparoscopy, upper GI, bariatric), Green surgery (hepatobiliary), and a rotation at the Salem Veterans Hospital. As Chiefs, they assume great responsibilities for patient care and education, mentoring and management of their teams. Chiefs also finalize their plans for fellowship or practice following completion of their general surgery residency training.

Operative Experience

The Surgery Residents at UVA finish with a multitude of cases and a vast experience in very complex ones, more than satisfying the requirements set forth by the American Board of Surgery. The following are the average case totals for the graduated chief class of 2019.

Defined CategoriesRRC RequirementsUVA Average
Skin Soft Tissue/Breast2553.4
Head and Neck2572.2
Alimentary Tract180306.4
Trauma Operative1020.8
Trauma non-Operative40117.8
Surgical Critical Care4060.6
Total major8501056.4
Total chief200276.8
Total Teaching Assist2539.6

Program Summary of Performance on ABS Examinations : 2016-2018

First-Taker Examination Pass Rates (2016-2018 Graduates)
General Surgery Qualifying and Certifying Examinations (QE & CE)

Program Examinees Passed QE on 1st Attempt – 100%
Program Examinees Passed CE on 1st Attempt – 100%

National Examinees Passed QE on 1st Attempt – 94%
National Examinees Passed CE on 1st Attempt – 81%


Patient care offers ample opportunities for learning; however, structured surgical training through daily or weekly conferences and readings are an equally important part of the UVA’s educational plan.

Morning Report

A daily conference during which residents sign-out patients and present the most valuable teaching points from the previous 24 hours. A short teaching presentation is given daily during this conference.

Teaching Conference

Residents  are required to read a chapter per week set forth by the two-year American College of Surgeons’ curriculum. They participate in weekly topic discussions and lectures. The chiefs and senior residents are responsible for preparing these conferences and an attending with expertise on the topic mentors each session.

Mortality and Morbidity Conference

Allows for discussion of all deaths and complications in an open forum on weekly basis.

Grand Rounds

Introduces a variety of pertinent surgical, economic and social topics to residents in a lecture format. We are grateful to have the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most accomplished surgeons in the world.

Mock Orals

Test the knowledge and prepares our residents for the board examinations. PGY4 and 5 residents are assessed and trained to pass the oral examinations several times a year.

Other conferences

A multitude of conferences specific to the rotations are attended on weekly basis.

Laparoscopic Skills Laboratory

Fundamental surgical skills including laparoscopy are learned in a skills laboratory located in the Education Resource Center. In addition, residents have the opportunity to travel to national meetings and further improve their laparoscopic techniques.

three photos of uva surgical residents training in the laproscopic skills laboratory


At UVA you work hard, but we also give you time to rest. Interns and PGY-2 residents each get a calendar month of vacation. PGY-3 and above, each get three 9 day vacation blocks. You are granted time away to present at meetings which is separate from your vacation time. In addition, Chief residents are granted a week of conference leave where they are not required to present. During the Christmas/New Year period residents are each given 5 to 6 days off.  Similarly on or around Thanksgiving each resident is given 2 days off.