Our residency program leaders work closely with residents to define topical, engaging, and valuable didactic education and skills training. We leverage principles of adult learning and make smart use of technology to ensure that what you’re learning is relevant and delivered in the best format.

“People are not born as great surgeons. This is achieved through deliberate and dedicated study, operative experience, and practice. The University of Michigan is an ideal training environment for the development of these operative skills and surgical knowledge, and there are countless well-respected mentors available to help develop abilities for teaching and research that create a solid foundation for a career in academic surgery.”

Mark Healy, M.D., General Surgery Class of 2018


Weekly educational conferences are held each week during a dedicated 3-hour morning block, with residents excused from clinical duties in order to participate. Residents participate in setting the schedule and choosing topics based on educational goals.

A typical weekly block schedule would include:

  • A Death and Complications conference attended by all residents and faculty.
  • Weekly teaching conferences, which are collaboratively prepared and led by a resident and a faculty member for small group interactive discussions.
    • Examples:
      • Junior residents participate in a Foundations of Surgery curriculum to strengthen their knowledge of surgical basic science and clinical principles. Faculty members help residents prepare and discuss their topic. At the beginning of the year, part of this time is devoted to studying Foundations in Critical Care.
      • Senior residents participate in a Clinical Management curriculum that emphasizes advanced patient management and surgical decision-making. Faculty mentors join residents in discussing each topic.

Additional conferences include:

  • Basic Science Curriculum: Held monthly and attended by all residents. Concentrates on basic science principles underlying surgical disease and treatment.
  • Surgical Grand Rounds: Held monthly (usually the first Thursday). Attended by all residents and faculty.
  • Quality Improvement / TAPS Curriculum: Team Action Projects (TAPS) are resident quality improvement projects that draw on Lean principles and methodology.
  • ABSITE review: Conferences held during the months prior to the exam.
  • Surgical Ethics: Quarterly case-based discussion sessions led by the chair of the Adult Ethics Committee.
  • Rotation-specific conferences: Examples include multidisciplinary tumor boards and weekly case conferences during which residents present and discuss patients, as well as service-specific Morbidity and Mortality conferences (pediatric surgery and thoracic surgery). The services at the University Hospital and the VA each conduct their own weekly teaching conferences, as well.

Other learning activities include a monthly journal club, where residents select the topics and faculty host the club in their home.

Educational Resources

We strive to balance in-person and asynchronous educational opportunities, providing each resident with an iPad Mini that connects you to key clinical and didactic resources online. We also provide access to interactive multimedia surgical texts, including short videos and modules aligned with resident rotations and clinical and operative experiences.

Surgical Skills Training

You’ll learn operative skills both in and out of the OR. Through Michigan Medicine’s multidisciplinary Clinical Simulation Center, you’ll complete proficiency-based curricula for open and laparoscopic surgical skills so you’ll be optimally prepared to keep learning in the operating room.

Surgical skills training includes:

  • Basic laparoscopic and open skills curriculum for interns. This is a formalized teaching system designed to accelerate operative comfort during the intern year and accelerate participation in laparoscopic cases earlier in training. These curricula incorporate formal coaching and assessment with faculty members and senior residents.
  • Advanced laparoscopic skills laboratory, during which residents practice advanced skills, such as bowel anastomosis, laparoscopic nephrectomy, laparoscopic liver resection, and other procedures.
  • Basic endoscopy curriculum, including colonoscopy, bronchoscopy and gastroscopy/EGD training now incorporated into the Fundamentals of Endoscopic Surgery curriculum and certification.
  • Fundamentals of laparoscopic surgery testing and certification.
  • Basic robotic skills curriculum, including simulation and systems training with full-scale simulators and operating room time with our surgical robots.
  • Critical care curriculum providing practical training in advanced critical care techniques. Taught by critical care faculty.

“Michigan’s dedication to patient care and advancement of the field of surgery through all avenues, including research, are far above what I found at other programs along the interview trail. This, coupled with Michigan’s investment into resident training and education, made choosing to train here an easy choice. After becoming a part of the team, I understand what striving for excellence really means, because here we do it every day, for every patient. The Michigan way really is ‘excellence,’ and I could not be more happy or proud of the choice I made to become a part of this team.”

Lynn Frydrych, M.D., General Surgery Class of 2021

Feedback & Evaluation

Feedback and evaluation are major areas of focus for our training program.

We follow the ACGME Milestones, and each 6 months, residents receive formative feedback from the Clinical Competency Committee to help them track their progress and development. Trainees are also evaluated monthly in a Clinical Performance Evaluation.

Residents receive separate and frequent evaluations on their professionalism, and global assessment of their technical skills. Each year, mid-level and senior residents undergo a mock oral examination to prepare for the American Board of Surgery Certifying examination with specific formative and summative feedback. Chief residents also receive specific evaluations on their operative performance in key areas.

We work closely with residents to continually refine the methods and contexts in which we provide feedback on their growth. We also use aggregate results from the annual American Board of Surgery In Service Training Exam (ABSITE) to identify programmatic areas for improvement for the next year.