5+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
Medical Student
Hey everyone,

I'm a m2 at a mid tier allopathic school. I'm trying to get some advice on my situation and hopefully someone can help answer a part or all of the things I'm asking about.

I've realized in my life now that being close to family and friends means a lot to me. (1) Would applying to programs in California (where I'm originally from) be a difficult feat to pull off if I'm trying to do general surgery? I've realized that I most likely will not be competitive for sub surgical programs, but I've got these deep feeling that I would really enjoy working with my hands. So if I wanted to do gen surg, would be it possible to match close to home with the right stats?

My biggest fear is being stuck in a really toxic program that would zap my enjoyment of the field, which I've heard that gen surg programs are notorious for (2) so my second question is, are all gen surg programs known to be toxic and how does one select a good program?

(3) And would getting a general surgery job be hard these days or is it about the same demand as primary care?

Feels like I'm overlooking something big and obvious by considering general surgery. Please tell me I'm not throwing away my life doing this.


2+ Year Member
Oct 8, 2016
Resident [Any Field]
See how you feel after your 3rd year rotations, and if you're still unsure sign up for some difficult Sub-Is in gen surg to see how you feel.

I'm only a few months into my PGY-1, but I love surgery and it's far easier than I thought it would be given all the negative stories out there. I am much happier than I was as a medical student trying to please all these people for evaluations. I love being in the hospital and handling surgical problems. I don't know if it is me, my program, other factors or a combination but I am really happy with my choice so far.

I think you can detect toxic programs on interviews and interview day dinners to some degree. Away rotations are a good way to filter those out too. The best way is to look at the current residents and talk to them. Do they look happy? Miserable? Are they all complaining because their personal lives are in shambles? Did a good turn out come to the dinner to meet the interviewees or did they all opt out because they're so sick of the program and don't care? Did a bunch drop out recently? Are prelims signing up to stick around at the program or trying to match elsewhere? I found that asking directly only works to some degree, but you can usually get them talking if you ask indirectly in a casual setting (for eg. ask about med students, fav rotations within the program, mentors within the program etc) and get them rambling on about the program.
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Senior Member
10+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2005
New York
Attending Physician
Damn OP. That thread title...

But seriously you need to figure out if you'd actually enjoy surgery first. Your reasons for doing general surgery are

1. A deep feeling

2. Won't be competitive for sub specialities

Which are weak to say the least. Oh. And BTW reason 2 is BS. If you're a M2 RIGHT NOW you haven't even gotten to any of the stuff Ortho, ent, etc look at.
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