Resident Education


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 2017.

Defined Categories RRC Requirements UVA Average National Average+
Skin Soft Tissue/Breast 25 96 117.4
Head and Neck 24 60.2 64.1
Alimentary Tract 72 300.6 250
Abdominal 65 347.6 324.3
Liver 4 17.8 12.5
Pancreas 3 23.8 12.2
Vascular 44 85 116.7
Endocrine 8 39.6 32
Trauma Operative 10 15.8 28.3
Trauma non-Operative 25 122.2 46.9
Thoracic 15 45.8 39.7
Pediatric 20 49.6 40.4
Plastic 5 15.8 25.6
Laparoscopic-basic 60 148 177.1
Endoscopy 85 142 134.4
Laparoscopic-complex 60 161.8 114.9
Total major 750 1039.2 1025.6
Total chief 150 280 246.3
Total Teaching Assist 25 45.8 44.6

+The national averages are from the chief class finishing in 2008 and will be updated when this data is available. The percentiles likewise will be added.

Program Summary of Performance on ABS Examinations : 2012-2017

First-Taker Examination Pass Rates (2012-2016 Graduates)
General Surgery Qualifying and Certifying Examinations (QE & CE)

University of Virginia Total # QE QE Success 1st Attempt Total # CE CE Success 1st Attempt Overall
General Surgery Residency 25 25 100% 23 22 96% 96%


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

Marks the beginning of Wednesday’s educational block. Residents and medical students 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. Please see the attached link for full details.   Click here to view the typical weekly conference schedule.


There is a strong tradition of research among the residents at the University of Virginia.  All residents are required to participate in at least one month of dedicated research time.  Some residents may elect to spend a single month during the third clinical year. Most residents spend one to three years working in a basic or clinical science laboratory. Some even seize the opportunity to receive a Masters in Public Health or Clinical Sciences during this time.

In order to enable this research experience to be productive, the Department of Surgery has developed a policy regarding resident research. This policy also highlights some of the departmental and institutional resources designed to facilitate this research experience.

Resident research can only thrive with appropriate mentorship. The faculty of the University of Virginia Department of Surgery are committed to research in their own careers as well as to helping residents develop as surgeon-scientists.

Categorical residents are required to submit a research proposal in the winter and present their topic during Resident Research Day in April as a poster or an oral presentation. Pre-existing work is acceptable, but novel research created for research day also is encouraged. This frequently results in this work being presented and published in other forums including presentations at local, regional, or national meetings and publication in peer reviewed journals.

Submission of research primarily for presentation at professional society meetings is encouraged. When a resident working with a surgery faculty mentor succeeds in getting an abstract accepted for presentation at a meeting, the resident is given the opportunity to travel to that meeting, present the work, and expenses related to this are covered.

Laparoscopic Skills Laboratory

Fundamental surgical skills including laparoscopy are learned in a skills laboratory located within the operating room suite. Monthly skills are mastered by the residents and tested by the attendings or chiefs for proficiency. 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.