2+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2014
I'm starting to get a few general surgery interviews now, and I am wanting to make an objective evaluation sheet to fill out on each program. Did any of you who applied to general surgery do this? and if so, what were your evaluation criteria? Thanks for any input!


2+ Year Member
Oct 8, 2016
Resident [Any Field]
Size of program, exposure to subspecialties i was interested in, how many years of research required, call schedule/hours per week, proximity to location i wanted to be at, cost of living, likelihood i could happily live within 10 minutes of the hospital (short commute), any perks unique to program (free food or food $$, free parking, education stipend, free ipad, bonus $ available for good test scores etc), status of graduates (good fellowships a positive, having to do a transition to practice year bad), subjective happiness of residents/vibe, program director enthusiasm for residents.

Lots of things to think about. Really depends on what is important to you.
Jul 30, 2017
Southlake, TX
Attending Physician
I think a lot of applicants do something like this.

I remember making a huge spreadsheet with all the things I wanted in a program with each weighted a little differently and some formula to give everyone a score.

When I put in my rank list I ended up just going with my gut. I think it worked out.

Just get a sense of whether or not you'd fit in at the program while you are there, and try (I know it's tough) to at least take a look at some of the city. You'll figure it out
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10+ Year Member
Feb 22, 2005
Attending Physician
having to do a transition to practice year bad

Lots of things to think about. Really depends on what is important to you.
I agree somewhat, but there are many residents from many different programs who would benefit from a transition to practice fellowship, but would never apply. I have no firsthand experience with these fellowships, but perhaps the resident who enrolls has a greater level of self-awareness than others with a similar skillset.

In my opinion, the most important thing about a residency is the end product. After 5-7 years, you have to be a competent and board certified general surgeon, and you have to be able to practice the specialty of your choice in the geography of your choice.

Looking at program websites to determine details is much more fruitful than it was when I was applying in 2005. Another good resource is the ABS website, where they publish 5 year pass rates (here's the 2012-2016 summary:

Important components of a good residency:
1. Board pass rates (have to be certified when you're done)
2. Fellowship placement (not only the specialty but the institution). Keep in mind most fellowships are relatively easy to obtain...I won't name names since it always leads to emotional arguments.
3. Case numbers and case variety. You want the entire spectrum (i.e. not 500 gallbladders and 1 whipple), and I would avoid anywhere with less than 1000 cases per chief (maybe 900 but really 1000). Keep in mind that when you are doing less cases, you may be more inclined to embellish how much of the case you performed in order to achieve your required numbers.
4. Graduated autonomy (ask the students from that institution as well as the residents). An added bonus is a chief-run service, often EMTALA/uninsured patients, where the chief operates independently for 2-3 months. This is a dying concept, but very valuable.
5. Balanced experience (several different work environments and teaching styles): you want some hawks and some doves, some bread and butter and some complex redo redo surgeries, some laparoscopy and some open, some community and some academic (make sure you spend time in the community!), maybe some VA if possible. When you know more than 1 way to do something, you have a better understanding of where and how you want to work when you're done, and you can get yourself out of trouble better.
6. Competent and confident chief residents. This is hard to determine, but you can ask the students from the program what they think.
7. Geography that fits with your family and friends. This is not supposed to matter, but it will when you get closer to ROL submission.
8. Gut feeling. Trust your gut. If residents seem miserable and/or incompetent, don't go there. There are plenty of good programs.

Good luck.


7+ Year Member
Jan 9, 2012
Resident [Any Field]
My list for ortho was:

1) Operative experience, that's what we are here for, to learn to be confident and good surgeons. You want early operative experience, beware of places with handsy attendings and large numbers of fellows. Choose a "resident's residency program" and a "fellows fellowship program." I.e. you want your program to be resident run.
2) Fellowship placement, can this residency take you where you want to go?
3) Overall resident happiness. Residency can be a suck, but it doesn't have to suck all the time to be good training. You will perform better if you are happy.
4) Location. I honestly thought this wouldn't matter to me at all when I was interviewing as I have lived all over the country. However, it started to matter more when I was making my rank list and realized choosing to live certain places would mean my family would have to take three plane flight connections to visit.
5) Fit. Check your gut, do you fit in at this program with these residents and attendings?
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