Goals & Objectives

During their 5 years of clinical training, residents are assigned to specific rotations. Here’s a look at how residency training unfolds over those 5 years.

Dr. Varban instructing trainees
General Surgery Trainees
General Surgery trainees

"Michigan is about the complete development of the academic surgeon. Yes, the clinical experience is excellent; but from day one there is a strong emphasis on your academic, professional, and personal development. This cannot be overstated, as academic surgery is an increasingly competitive field. Michigan trains future surgeons to contribute to our field in a multitude of ways."

Kyle Sheetz, M.D., General Surgery Class of 2021

First Year

The first year of residency training consists of core general surgery rotations designed to provide a broad introduction to general surgery operations, as well as the pre-operative, post-operative, outpatient, and intensive care of surgical patients. First-year residents:

  • Take an active part in patient evaluation and management appropriate for their level.
  • Actively participate in operative procedures, both as first assistant and as surgeon (junior role).
  • Take on a prominent role in the delivery of post-operative care.
  • Progress through a period of being supervised directly by senior residents and attending surgeons, to being supervised indirectly.
  • Complete a rigorous, structured, and detailed curriculum for the development of surgical skills in the U-M Clinical Simulation Center.

Second Year

In your second year, you’ll gain more opportunities for graduated responsibility, both in the operating room and in clinical management. Second-year residents:

  • Function more autonomously by seeing consults on the emergency general surgery service, and function as the emergency consult resident on trauma, assisting senior residents in the care of patients during trauma resuscitations.
  • Assist with the supervision and education of junior residents and collaborate with the critical care fellow during rotations in the surgical intensive care unit.

Third Year

In your third year, you’ll function as the second senior resident on most rotations. Opportunities for independent responsibility increase substantially. Third-year residents: 

  • Function as the primary consult resident on most services, and staff consults with the chief resident or directly with the attending.
  • Share the responsibility of running the service with the chief resident on days off or over vacations.
  • Take on operative cases of increased complexity. Operative volume increases significantly.

Fourth Year

Fourth-year residents are responsible for all aspects of clinical management of the service, as well as team leadership. Your responsibilities increase substantially both in the operating room and on the service. Fourth-year residents:

  • Function as the chief of the Acute Care Surgery service (SA-2), leading and managing all areas of the trauma service independently. They also direct and supervise all care delivered during trauma resuscitations under the supervision of the trauma attendings.
  • Gain a month of time for electives so they can pursue specific clinical interests.

Fifth Year

Fifth-year residents act as chief on all services, leading the team in every aspect. Fifth-year residents: 

  • Direct every aspect of clinical care, including pre- and post-operative management, and staff patients with attendings on a daily basis.
  • Fulfill all administrative responsibilities of the service to ensure the team functions smoothly by coordinating schedules to ensure all clinics and operating rooms are staffed, while guaranteeing that all ACGME and duty-hour restrictions are met.
  • Coordinate and lead the clinical education of fellow residents and medical students on the team.
  • Take the lead in the technical aspects of operations and direct operative decision-making under the direct supervision of attending surgeons, refining their surgical skills and judgment to prepare for a life of independent practice.