Photo of Mayo Clinic surgeons in operating room

The General Surgery Residency at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, is designed much like a series of postgraduate courses in various surgical disease entities with prominent clinical laboratory experience in patient care and operations.

Residents are assigned personal iPads and have online access to the Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE) curriculum, which is the basis for the American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE) as well as the General Surgery Qualifying Examination (written boards). The weekly didactic conference schedule is based on SCORE and is partitioned into subject matter categories to facilitate learning (stomach, hernia, breast, for example).

Clinical training

Within the mentoring and mastery model of surgical education at Mayo Clinic, the trainee is the most senior resident on all core general surgery services, even as a junior resident. Trainees operate with the faculty surgeons whenever they are operating and see outpatients whenever they are in clinic.

This model provides educational continuity from preoperative evaluation and operative techniques to postoperative techniques and postoperative care from day one of training. Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona also provides extensive training in minimally invasive techniques for all services and through our minimally invasive surgery service.

A resident's experience begins in the first two years with common diseases and simple to moderately complex operations such as:

  • Lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • Open inguinal hernia repair
  • Mastectomy
  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy
  • Laparoscopic ventral hernia repair

In the third and fourth years, residents treat a broad scope of surgical disease and perform more complex operative procedures, such as:

  • Gastrectomy
  • Aortic aneurysm repair
  • Hepatic and pancreatic resections
  • Laparoscopic colectomy
  • Pneumonectomy

Work rounds are held on all services at least twice a day; teaching rounds are conducted with supervising faculty members daily.

A unique aspect of Mayo Clinic's program is the institution's physician schedule, which alternates each day between operative and nonoperative responsibilities. This scheduling permits surgical services to function as a team in the hospital and in the outpatient clinic. It also facilitates participation in the total care of patients under the supervision of a faculty member.

Responsibilities will vary according to the specific rotation and a resident's level of training. Supervising faculty members will delegate and supervise all aspects of patient care, including diagnosis, preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative care with subsequent outpatient follow-up. Additionally, senior residents supervise junior residents on a day-to-day basis.

Rotation schedule

This is our current rotation schedule:

Rotation Length
Acute care surgery 5 months
Surgical oncology 2 months
Vascular surgery 1 month
Colon and rectal surgery 1 month
Trauma and critical care surgery 2 months
Burn surgery 1 month
Rotation Length
Surgical oncology 2 months
Critical care 2 months
Plastic/reconstructive surgery 1 month
Endoscopy 1 month
Minimally invasive and bariatric surgery 4 months
Colon and rectal surgery 2 months
Rotation Length
Pediatric surgery 3 months
Endocrine surgery 2 months
Trauma and critical care surgery 2 months
Cardiothoracic surgery 2 months
Surgical oncology 1 month
Vascular surgery 2 months
Rotation Length
Endocrine surgery 1 month
Hepatobiliary and transplant surgery 3 months
Colon and rectal surgery 3 months
Surgical oncology 2 months
Minimally invasive surgery 3 months
Rotation Length
Acute care surgery 12 months

In PGY-5, chief residents function like junior faculty under the supervision of senior faculty members. They are assigned their own surgical service with operating time, office and secretarial support, and a consulting calendar of scheduled patients. This experience is extraordinarily valuable in transitioning to an even higher level of autonomy prior to fellowship training or clinical practice.

Photo of Mayo Clinic surgeons in operating room

Required off-site rotations

All General Surgery Residency training takes place at Mayo Clinic's campus in Scottsdale and Mayo Clinic Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona, except for the following rotations:


  • Burn surgery. One month at the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, which is an American Burn Association and American College of Surgeons nationally verified burn center.
  • Trauma and critical care surgery. Two months at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, the only Level 1 Trauma Center in Phoenix designated by the state of Arizona and verified by the American College of Surgeons.


  • Pediatric surgery. Three months at Phoenix Children's Hospital, the only dedicated children's hospital in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Residents also participate in pediatric surgical care at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center when on this rotation.
  • Trauma and critical care surgery. Two months at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, the only Level 1 Trauma Center in Phoenix designated by the state of Arizona and verified by the American College of Surgeons.
  • General surgery. Two months at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, which offers a private practice general surgery experience.

Didactic training

Clinical conferences, seminars, small discussion groups and one-on-one instruction are an integral part of Mayo Clinic's General Surgery Residency.


All residents are required to attend conferences each weekday from 7 to 8 a.m.

  • Monday: Surgical Grand Rounds
  • Tuesday: Morbidity and mortality conference
  • Wednesday: Clinical management-based conference
  • Thursday: Interactive Basic Science Conference
  • Friday: Surgical simulation skills lab

Other conferences include:

  • Program director's conference
  • Endocrine teleconference
  • Journal club
  • Chief conference

Surgical skills and minimally invasive surgery lab

The General Surgery Residency has a formal curriculum for surgical skills and minimally invasive skills training. A dedicated lab is provided along with direct faculty instruction. Simulators, laparoscopic training stations, a surgical robot trainer, animal and cadaveric labs are all provided. Access to the skills lab is 24/7 for individual practice in addition to the formal curriculum.

Research training

All surgical residents must complete five clinical research projects during their five-year residency, of which at least two need to be as first author. Trainees will define a question, write a protocol, develop the methodology, collect and analyze data, then write an abstract and paper under the mentorship of our faculty.

Residents are expected to present their work at regional and national meetings, and submit their research to peer-reviewed journals for publication. The residency finances resident travel (within the continental United States) for the presentation of research, and residents are allotted trip days to do so.

Additional research year

Between the second and third year of residency, two of the four categorical residents per class can dedicate an extra year of training to research. The research year, during which no clinical duties are assigned, is in addition to the five clinical years of training.

During the research year, the residency provides a continued stipend and benefits, and this time may be used for basic (bench) or clinical research. One research spot can be utilized to work with a mentor at other institutions outside of Mayo Clinic.

Recent research residents have enjoyed the opportunities for research at:

Board examinations

Residents are required to take the written American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE) each year. Trainee status in the program is not determined solely by ABSITE results; however, a score greater than the 50th percentile is required.

Oral in-service examinations

During the fourth and fifth years of training, residents participate in mock oral examinations given by both Mayo and non-Mayo surgeons. These exams are in preparation for the certifying examination of the American Board of Surgery (ABS). Three 30-minute interviews are conducted in a format similar to that used by the ABS. Traditionally, these interviews have become a valuable experience for graduating residents.

Call frequency

PGY-1 residents have in-house call every third night on the acute care surgery service. Trainees average two of every three weekends off. Upper level residents are on pager call from home every fourth or fifth night, and every fourth or fifth weekend. One day in seven is free of all duty and residents work no more than 80 hours a week, as per Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) requirements.

Committee assignments

Opportunity is available to gain experience in a number of administrative capacities during residency. For example, those appointed to the General Surgery Residency education committee gain experience in administering the program, selecting and evaluating the curriculum, and determining resident rotations and call schedules. A variety of other Mayo Clinic committee opportunities are available.

Career development

Residents meet every six months with the program director to discuss individual goals and are assigned a mentor based on individual career plans. Mayo Clinic recruits many staff physicians from our own training programs. Nine percent of our graduates have been recruited onto the surgical staff to date.

Over the past five years, our residents' match rate with the fellowship of their choice is 100 percent. Additionally, 89 percent of our graduates have gone on to surgical fellowships in a variety of fields, including:

  • 20 percent — plastic surgery
  • 16 percent — surgical oncology/breast
  • 11 percent — pediatric surgery
  • 11 percent — minimally invasive surgery
  • 9 percent — colon and rectal surgery
  • 9 percent — transplant surgery
  • 7 percent — vascular surgery


To ensure that trainees acquire adequate knowledge and develop the appropriate technical skills, performance is monitored carefully during the course of the residency. After each clinical rotation, residents are evaluated formally by supervising faculty members, based on the standard ACGME milestones. In addition, residents regularly evaluate faculty members to ensure that educational needs are being met.

Twice a year, the program director or associate program director submits a summary evaluation incorporating the faculty evaluations, 360-degree evaluations, portfolios, videotaped procedures and all other evaluative tools.

Sept. 20, 2016