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Curriculum

The curriculum of our General Surgery Residency Program offers a broad scope of clinical rotations at several training sites and a variety of didactic experiences.

Our program is enhanced by offering the resident several areas of subspecialty concentration, including the following:

  • Trauma and acute care surgery
  • Surgical critical care
  • Surgical oncology
  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • Vascular surgery
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Hepatobiliary surgery
  • Basic and advanced laparoscopic surgery
  • Esophageal surgery

Clinical experiences

Surgical residents rotate through these services:

  • Acute care surgery
  • Bariatric and minimally invasive surgery
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Colon and rectal surgery
  • General thoracic surgery
  • Trauma surgery
  • Transplant surgery
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Surgical oncology
  • Vascular surgery

They see patients in the surgical ambulatory care area and in faculty surgeons' private offices as well as in the hospital.

STAR center

Skills and Simulation resources are a very important component of a surgical resident’s education today and has been shown to be a very effective method of teaching. The STAR Center of Allegheny Health Network is located at our West Penn Hospital and offers a wide variety of equipment to help our residents become skilled surgeons. In addition, a curriculum has been prepared for each PGY level to progressively hone their skills so they may become proficient in laparoscopic surgery, endoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery. Certification through FLS and FES is now required to sit for American Board of Surgery exams and the STAR Center is available to acquire the skills need to pass those exams.

New to 2021 is a formalized robotics curriculum with the opportunity for robotics certification.  AHN is one of only a few institutions that perform robotic surgery in cardiac surgery, otolaryngology, urology, gynecology, thoracic surgery, general surgery, surgical oncology, and colorectal surgery.  The number of cases performed robotically has increased dramatically over the last several years and in some disciplines, such as colorectal surgery, robotic procedures will soon overtake laparoscopic techniques as the minimally invasive procedure of choice.  With the current rotation schedule, our residents are exposed to robotic surgery at every PGY level during their bariatric, colorectal, ENT, general surgery, plastics, thoracic, transplant/liver, and surgical oncology rotations at Allegheny General Hospital, West Penn Hospital and Forbes Hospital.

With the growth of robotic surgery, and anticipated continued growth within the area of general surgery, it is becoming increasingly important that today's general surgery residents complete their training with a fundamental working knowledge of robotic surgery.  The vast majority of graduating general surgery residents, whether they go into private practice or do a fellowship, will continue to perform robotic surgery after graduation.  Our robotic surgery curriculum has been developed to guide resident robotic training throughout their 5 years of AHN general surgery residency.

Learn more about the STAR Center here

Training sites

Our General Surgery Residency Program includes rotations at Allegheny General Hospital, West Penn Hospital, Forbes Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital, Jefferson Hospital and UPMC Children's Hospital.  Surgical capabilities include:

Allegheny General Hospital - 23 main operating rooms and integrated minimally invasive suite, 4 specialized operating rooms, and 7 Ambulatory Surgery Center operating rooms; 24-bed surgical/trauma intensive care unit, 32-bed cardiothoracic intensive care unit, and 32-bed neurosurgical intensive care unit. The hospital was first in the state to open a dedicated trauma ICU and is a Level I Regional Resource Center for Trauma that annually admits more than 2,000 patients to the Division of Trauma Surgery. Our air ambulance service, LifeFlight, introduced in 1978, was the first aeromedical emergency transport system in the northeastern United States. Five LifeFlight helicopters transport more than 200 patients per month within a 150-mile radius of Pittsburgh.

Forbes Hospital - 15,000 inpatient admissions, 12,000 surgeries, and nearly 50,000 emergency department visits annually; cardiovascular surgery and neurosurgery; a new 38-bed emergency department; Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Center; Pittsburgh area’s first Level 2 trauma center

West Penn Hospital - academic medical center regionally and nationally recognized for excellence in nursing (first in the region designated Magnet by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and first to achieve second designation, in 2012), bone marrow and cell transplantation (repeatedly FACT-accredited), and reproductive medicine (including Level III NICU). Emergency Medicine services include a completely renovated Emergency Department with dedicated state-of-the-art X-ray room, 128-slice computed tomography (CT), and ultrasound equipment. West Penn Burn Center is the region's first and only burn center verified by the American Burn Association/American College of Surgeons Commission on Trauma for both pediatric and adult burn care. The Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence has achieved HealthGrades recognitions many years in a row.

Jefferson Hospital - more than 10,000 inpatient and outpatient surgeries performed annually.  Newly expanded $17.5 millon Operating Rooms feature state-of-the-art technologies, an onsite pathology lab and dedicated pharmacy.  Modern high-definition video equipment enhances the surgical team's capabilities to view sharper, more accurate images especially in minimally invasive laparoscopic, vascular, and cardiothoracic surgery.

Didactic experiences

Although clinical experience is key to a surgical resident's education; formal, didactic conferences are important as well.  The following are the regularly scheduled didactic experiences:

Weekly/ Monthly Conferences

Every Tuesday morning the following conferences are held as part of our didactic schedule:

  • Morbidity and Mortality Conference
  • Surgical Grand Rounds
  • Basic Science/Clinical Science Conference

During these conference times, residents are protected from all clinical activity except for emergency care.

Journal Club

Journal Club is held monthly where recent surgical articles are critically reviewed by both residents and staff.

Specialty Conferences

Additional specialty conferences are required for residents on particular services, and these may be attended by all residents as well. These include the following:

  • Acute Care Surgery Conference
  • Trauma Conference
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Vascular Surgery Conference
  • Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Conference
  • Tumor Board

Oral Board Exam Preparation

PGY4 and PGY5 (chief) residents are invited to a session held with selected staff outside of the hospital setting to informally prepare for the oral boards by reviewing material and answering oral board-type questions.

Additionally, in the spring, mock oral board examinations are held for both the PGY-4 and chief residents. This is a combined effort with six additional training programs in the region and involves faculty from all institutions. Residents are given formal evaluations of their performance.

ACLS, ATLS, Orientation

During the first weeks of our General Surgery Residency Program, all residents are expected to take the courses and pass the exams for advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) and advanced trauma life support (ATLS) certification. Many general surgery residents also choose to obtain ATLS instructor certification during their residency.