General Surgery Residency

Welcome to the Brigham Surgery Residency! We believe we have a world-class surgery training program, and we welcome you to explore our website.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), we combine top-notch clinical care with world-class research and cutting-edge education to provide a comprehensive surgical training program. Our residents rotate through a wide mix of hospitals, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is a tertiary care referral center, as well as two community hospitals (Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital and South Shore Hospital), a VA hospital (the West Roxbury VA Hospital) and Boston Children’s Hospital. Through those rotations, our residents experience the wide range of general surgical diseases. Most of our residents complete a two year research experience during residency. Our residents have done research in every aspect of academic surgery, from basic science to health services to global surgery.

I am often asked: “What are you looking for in a surgery resident?” We are looking for future leaders in American and global surgery. Brigham and Women’s Hospital has a century-long history of producing surgical leaders. Not every BWH graduate will be a department chairperson, but we feel that every BWH surgery resident graduates with the skills to be a leader in surgery, whether at the local, regional, national, or global level.

The true strengths of our Surgery Residency are our residents and faculty. We have a uniquely gifted group of trainees and faculty, and their camaraderie makes for a fantastic surgical training environment. If this is what you are looking for in a surgery residency, we hope that you will apply. We look forward to meeting you in the future.

Douglas Smink, MD, MPH

Douglas Smink, MD, MPH

Program Director

See Entire Profile See Dr. Douglas Smink's Profile

General Surgery Program Information

Quick Facts
  • Five-year ACGME-accredited general surgery residency program
  • Two-year research and/or educational experience required
  • Most residents complete 1,000-1,200 surgeries upon completion of fifth year
  • 95% of graduate residents pursue academic careers, usually starting at the assistant professor level
  • Approximately 75 candidates interviewed each year
  • 9 categorical residents appointed annually
  • Application deadline is October 1
Program Overview

Our five-year ACGME accredited general surgery residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) provides surgical education of the highest caliber leading to American Board of Surgery Certification in general surgery within an environment designed to encourage clinical and basic scientific investigational experience.

Surgical training at BWH and our affiliated teaching hospitals provides a potential daily inpatient population approximating 1,300. These combined hospital facilities allow each surgical trainee to obtain a large operative experience early in the training program and to develop independent responsibility in the pre- and post-operative care of a variety of surgical patients. Most residents upon completion of their chief resident year have performed between 1,000 and 1,200 major operations.

Program Objectives
  • To offer a general surgical residency through which the residency program graduate qualifies for board examination and the assumption of independent responsibilities in clinical practice after five clinical years of residency training
  • To provide the first two years as a core junior surgical residency, preparing the candidate for further training in general surgery or in the surgical specialties
  • To maximize the trainee's responsibilities in patient management both in and out of the operating room, starting in the first year
  • To encourage those individuals interested in careers in academic surgery to develop the necessary skills in surgical research, education and/or administration through a broad range of available opportunities designed to maximize academic development

Partners HealthCare and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is an Equal Opportunity Employer & by embracing diverse skills, perspectives and ideas, we choose to lead. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, military service, genetic information, and/or other status protected under law.

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital we aspire to be the care provider of choice for diverse patients and their families, and the employer of choice for diverse employees.

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) aims to enhance workforce diversity by providing career advancement and professional development opportunities and through promoting increased recruitment and retention among all diverse faculty, trainees and students.  CDI’s mission is to promote a vibrant, diverse and inclusive professional community where every person thrives. This center sponsors many resources and programs dedicated to career development, leadership and diversity and inclusion dialogues.

We also invite you to watch our “Training at a Harvard Hospital” video to hear how trainees and program leaders describe their experiences with diversity, Harvard-affiliated training programs and life in Boston.


In 2016, the Brigham General Surgery Residency initiated a Wellness Committee with start-up funds to understand and improve the environment in which surgical residents train at the Brigham. The Wellness Committee has progressed from short-term, enjoyable projects of providing regular access to healthy snacks and free admission to events at the Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Symphony Orchestra to longer-term, culture-oriented goals of improved administrative support for residents, protected time for doctor/dentist appointments, and formalized, longitudinal mentorship structures for each class.

To know where to start, the Brigham Surgery Wellness Committee conducted a residency-wide needs assessment. Since then, we have made significant progress toward addressing key issues that challenge surgical residents’ well-being. Ongoing projects continue in partnership with resident advocacy groups across the Brigham/Partners to tackle complex training culture issues such as gender and racial bias, respectful work environments, and establishing wellness into educational curricula.

Below is the Brigham Surgery Wellness Committee’s mission statement:

We are a diverse group of surgical residents focused upon improvement of student, resident, and faculty wellness. We believe that we are best for our patients when we are our best selves. We aim to succeed through the following efforts.

  1. Institutional accountability
  2. Evidence-based initiatives 
  3. Peer support

Committed to teaching and mentoring the next generation of surgeons and leaders in medicine, our general and gastrointestinal surgical faculty is comprised of experienced clinicians who impart a breadth of knowledge and expertise during clinical rounds and in clinics. Residents also interact with the faculty of the other BWH surgery divisions. In addition basic and clinical research mentors provide many research opportunities for residents and fellows.

General Surgery Residency Leadership

Department of Surgery Divisions

Teaching Facilities

Brigham and Women's Hospital is the largest hospital of the Longwood Medical and Academic Area in Boston, Massachusetts. BWH is Harvard Medical School's second largest teaching affiliate. With Massachusetts General Hospital, it is one of the two founding members of Partners HealthCare, the largest healthcare provider in Massachusetts. Brigham and Women's Hospital is an international leader in virtually every area of medicine and has been the site of pioneering breakthroughs that have improved lives around the world. Our residents rotate at a wide variety of institutions to obtain the wide variety of cases needed to become a leader in surgery. Residents rotate at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, our sister hospital where many of our surgeons routinely operate, South Shore Hospital, where residents have a high operative experience of bread and butter general surgery cases, and the Boston VA Healthcare System to obtain experience in the veteran population. The pediatric surgery component of the program takes place at Boston Children's Hospital, which is adjacent to the hospital and attached to BWH via bridge.

Junior Residency Years

Nineteen residents are appointed annually to the first postgraduate year of the general surgery program. Nine are matched for the full five-year categorical program in general surgery. Eleven are matched for the one-year designated preliminary general surgery program. The designated preliminary positions are reserved for those who have matched with Harvard surgical residencies in interventional radiology and urology.

The PGY-1 year of the junior surgical residency consists of rotations through the general surgery services at BWH, Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, South Shore Hospital, West Roxbury VA Medical Center, and Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as the emergency department, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, and thoracic surgery.

For categorical general surgery residents continuing on into the PGY-2 year, there are rotations through the BWH general surgery services, cardiac surgery, surgical ICU's, burn/trauma, VA Boston Healthcare System facility in West Roxbury, Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital and a community hospital rotation at South Shore Hospital.

Senior Residency Years

Nine residents are appointed annually to each of the PGY-3, PGY-4 and PGY-5 (chief resident) years of the categorical general surgery program. The PGY-3 year includes rotations through BWH general surgery services, general surgery at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, the BWH emergency department, thoracic surgery and transplantation. The PGY-4 year provides a varied experience on the general surgical services at BWH, Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, and South Shore Hospital. The PGY-5 year provides chief resident responsibility as required for ABS eligibility and consists of rotations through the general surgery services at BWH, Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, and an apprenticeship rotation with a faculty mentor of his/her choice.

Many BWH surgical graduates enter subspecialty fellowships following completion of their general surgery training. Recent graduates have matched for fellowships in:

  • Acute Care surgery
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Endocrine surgery
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Surgical critical care
  • Surgical oncology
  • Vascular surgery

Wednesday Education Block 7A - 12P

  • Morbidity and Mortality Conference
  • Surgical Grand Rounds
  • Core Curriculum based on the SCORE curriculum
  • Pizza Rounds: an interactive case discussion with key faculty, residents, and pizza
  • Simulation and Skills Lab Sessions


  • Clinical Case Conferences
    • Surgical Oncology
    • Vascular Surgery
    • Thoracic Surgery
    • GI Surgery
    • Surgical Critical Care / Trauma
    • Night Float Conference
Research Opportunities

Most residents complete two years of laboratory study or other academic career development in addition to the five clinical years of the program. Among the research or career development opportunities currently being pursued by our residents are basic science bench research in a variety of Harvard or outside labs, health services research through our Center for Surgery in Public Health, pursuit of an MPH MEd, or MBA degree from Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Graduate School of Education, or Harvard Business School. We also have several residents involved in international projects in Rwanda.

The Department of Surgery also has several National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grants, which allow us to fund trainees who wish to pursue research in gastrointestinal surgery, surgical oncology, or trauma. Many residents have obtained their own funding through various research grant and scholarship programs. For additional information on BWH research and research funding please visit our Department of Surgery research page or the BWH Surgical Resident Research Page.

Mentoring Program

Mentoring is essential for the development of our surgical residents. At BWH, we have a resident mentoring program that starts soon after Match Day, where a new intern is linked with both a faculty mentor and a resident mentor. These relationships welcome a new intern to the program and help with the transition to surgical residency. We stress the importance of mentoring to our residents and faculty and encourage our residents to identify faculty mentors as they progress through the program.

Global Surgery Residency Track

The Global Surgery Residency Track is available to surgical residents at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Residents will apply in the Spring of their intern year. During the second and third years of residency, they will continue in standard surgical residency curriculum and rotations, with focused mentorship to prepare for their global surgery experience. The core of the track begins after the completion of the PGY-3 clinical year, and lasts two years. Residents divide their time between one year of fieldwork in a non-U.S. low-resource setting and one year of research course work leading to a Master’s degree in Public Health through the Harvard School of Public Health (or other relevant degree program). Residents are also encouraged to apply to the summer program in Global Health Effectiveness.

During both portions of the global surgery track, residents work full-time on innovative global health/surgery projects in the areas of surgical capacity assessment, cost-effectiveness research for innovative treatments and technologies, surgical epidemiology, global surgical education, and infrastructure building. Each resident is paired with a BWH surgeon as their primary mentor and is required to complete at least one research project of sufficient quality for publication. On-going mentorship for career planning and guidance continues once residents return to BWH for the clinical PGY-4 and 5 years.

Global Surgery residents are required to attend monthly CSPH Works-in-Progress (WIP) sessions and the Academic Global Surgery Forum (AGSF), as well as Program in Global Surgery and Social Change meetings. Attendance is also encouraged at research and didactic seminars such as weekly BWH Surgery Resident Research Conferences and BWH Grand Rounds, and other CSPH events as announced. Mid- and/or year-end progress reports or presentations are required.

General Surgery Residency Application Information


The general surgery residency program matches with nine new residents each year for the five-year categorical program. Nine chief residents will graduate each year. The only non-categorical positions for which we match in the general surgery program are reserved for designated preliminary interns who have matched for a position with one of our surgical specialty programs for their PGY-2 year. Residency positions for the general surgery program at Brigham and Women's Hospital are matched via the National Resident Matching Program. The NRMP number for the categorical positions is 1265440C0 and for the preliminary positions it is 1265440P0.

We begin the recruitment season each September for residency positions to begin the following mid-June. All resident applicants must register with the NRMP in addition to requesting an application from the AAMC ERAS electronic residency application system. Programs participating in ERAS may only accept those application materials sent electronically through ERAS. We will not accept any additional supporting documents by mail.

Requirements and Deadline

We require the following documents to be available for download through ERAS for a complete application to be reviewed:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Medical school transcript
  • Personal statement
  • Dean's letter
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • USMLE transcript

We do not require a chairman’s letter and do not review any applications until they are complete. Our deadline for receipt of your general surgery residency application and all supporting documents is October 1.

Selection of Interview Candidates

Each application is reviewed in its entirety with an eye toward a combination of overall academic excellence, leadership ability, career development potential and personal character.

We interview approximately 75 candidates for the general surgery program each year. Although we receive applications from hundreds of well-qualified candidates, it is not possible to interview all who apply. All invitations are sent through email via ERAS, after the October 1 deadline.

All categorical invitations will be sent through email via ERAS on Wednesday, October 16th at 11:00AM. We contact all candidates with an invitation or decline.

Interview Dates

The next General Surgery Residency Program interview dates will be held on:

  • Thursday, November 21, 2019
  • Thursday, December 12, 2019
  • Thursday, January 9, 2020
Interview Format

The interview process will begin with an informal resident-applicant welcome reception the evening prior and then the traditional interview day beginning the next morning. You'll start with a continental breakfast at check in, followed by an hour-long group orientation session with Dr. Douglas Smink, the program director and Dr. Keith Ozaki, the resident research director.

Following the orientation session, each candidate will be interviewed by four key faculty members in one-on-one meetings. General surgery residents will be on hand throughout the morning to visit informally with the candidates between interviews and to conduct hospital tours. The interview session concludes with a buffet luncheon attended by all candidates, faculty and general surgery residents.

Travel and Hotel Accommodations

For purposes of making travel arrangements, applicants may anticipate being finished with all interview and tour activities by 2:00PM. Please see our hotel accommodations page for more information.


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