General Surgery

“General surgery is a discipline that requires knowledge of and familiarity with a broad spectrum of diseases that may require surgical treatment. By necessity, the breadth and depth of this knowledge will vary by disease category. In most areas, the surgeon will be expected to be competent in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of disease. However, there are some types of disease in which comprehensive knowledge and experience is not generally gained in the course of a standard surgical residency. In these areas, the surgeon will be able to recognize and treat a select group of conditions within a disease category.”

– American Board of Surgery

The breadth of knowledge found in general surgery is extremely diverse and requires not only excellent knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and the disease processes associated with them but also the technical dexterity to perform in the operating room. These skills sum up the purview of the general surgeon. Following completion of training in general surgery, many surgeons go on to complete further specialty training through a fellowship.

The fellowships available for general surgeons include: bariatric surgery, colorectal surgery, surgical oncology, hand surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, acute care surgery, trauma surgery, transplant surgery, endocrine surgery, plastic surgery, vascular surgery, minimally invasive surgery, and cardiothoracic surgery. Keep in mind that options exist to do integrated residency programs in cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, and plastic surgery that are typically six years in length instead of doing 5-7 years of general surgery residency and then additional fellowships in the aforementioned specialties.


See the Specialties page if you have not yet registered for AAMC CiM  


AAMC CiM - General Surgery   

Residency Length: 5-7 years (many programs suggest/require 2 years of research)

Total number of residency programs in 2016: 253

Total number of residency positions: ~1200

Total number of applicants: ~1300 US Seniors, ~2500 Total

Total number of matches: ~950 US Seniors, ~1200 Total

Compensation (Median): Asst. Professor $304,000, Assoc./Full Professor $390,000, Private Practice Starting $328,000, 1-2 Years in Specialty $415,962, All Physicians $409,665

Parker Evans (

Kathleen Gallagher (

Tom Mou (

David Stonko (

Faculty Advisor:

Kyla Terhune, MD

Steven Eskind, MD


VUMC Residency Director:

Dr. Kyla Terhune (


VUMC Faculty to Contact:

VMS students have recommended these faculty members as great contacts for career info, shadowing experiences, and research opportunities  


Kyla Terhune (General Surgery)

Molly Cone (Colorectal Surgery)

Louis Garrard (Vascular Surgery)

Sunil Geevarghese (Transplant)

Oscar Guillamondegui (Trauma Surgery)

Mary Hooks (Surgical Oncology)

Kim Lomis (General Surgery)

Bo Lovvorn (Pediatric Surgery)

Willie Melvin (General Surgery)

Tim Nunez (Trauma Surgery)

Alex Parikh (Surgical Oncology)

Mayur Patel (Trauma Surgery)

James Valentine (Vascular Surgery)


American College of Surgeons:

American Board of Surgery:


AMSA Surgery Interest Group

As an introduction to the field, we highly recommend the YouTube video series, Redefining Surgery. Here is a link to the trailer:

"So you want to be a surgeon":

FREIDA information about residency programs:

Operative Surgical Manual (to read to prep before OR cases): go to the Eskind Biomedical Library Digital Library webpage and search for "Atlas of Advanced Operative Surgery" text by Khatri, for a free online textbook version. 

Surgical textbook online for free: go to the Eskind Biomedical Library Digital Library webpage and search for "Sabiston Textbook of Surgery"

WebSurg (requires you to create a sign-in and password):

Here is a Spreadsheet of all of the Vandy students that have matched into general surgery and where over the years. Please contact GSIG leaders if for assistance in contacting alumni.

The myth that general surgery is not a friendly career choice for women is just that: pure myth! Vanderbilt has been proud to graduate many women into the field of general surgery in the past few years (see recent alumni). Below are some further readings/resources for women interested in this field. In addition, if you would find it helpful to meet with some of our Vanderbilt women surgeons or surgical residents, please contact the GSIG leadership who can help to facilitate this for you.


-Association of Women Surgeons:


Join the Association of Women Surgeons: $20 membership fee for students:

Many national professional organizations allow medical student membership at a reduced fee. Membership in these groups may give access to online resources, networking with mentors, reduced cost subscriptions to the American Journal of Surgery, scholarship opportunities, etc. Remember to add any groups that you officially join to your CV!

American College of Surgeons

Application fee is $20 and membership lasts until graduation from medical school. See membership benefits and application. Note: Application must be cosigned by the Chair of Surgery, Dr. Seth Karp. Email Dr. Karp’s office the fax #/contact info listed on the application and he will send a confirmation letter from the Chairman's Office for you.

Association of Women Surgeons

Application fee is $20 and membership lasts until graduation from medical school. See membership benefits and application. There are also opportunities to apply for national leadership positions.

Society of Thoracic Surgeons

Annual membership fee of $25 (or $12.50 after July 1st). See benefits and application. The STS offers the Looking to the Future Scholarship to approximately 20 medical students every year. This scholarship includes cost of two night hotel stay, meeting fees, and $500 towards travel expenses to the STS Annual Meeting. You do not have to be a member to apply for this scholarship.

Society for Vascular Surgery

Membership fee is $25 and membership lasts until graduation from medical school. See benefits and application here. The SVS has several different scholarships to attend the SVS Annual Meeting, including the Medical Student Travel Scholarship ($600), Introduction to Research Principles Scholarship ($1000), and Minority Medical Student Travel Scholarship ($1000). Over 50 awards are given out per year and you do not need to be a member to apply.


The University of Michigan annually prepares an excellent and comprehensive guidebook to offer advice to medical students of all years who are interested in applying for general surgery residency. The Guidebook is highly recommended to students interested in surgery who are looking to learn more about how to set one's self up to apply and match in surgery during all years of medical school.


As Dr. Tarpley himself once said, "If you can tie your shoelaces, you can be a surgeon." Surgical technique is not something that we are born with, but rather something learned with attention and practice. The General Surgery Interest Group hosts several surgical skills workshops throughout the year, and we encourage you to attend any that you can. Information about upcoming skills labs will be forthcoming on the GSIG listserv emails.

Ethicon Knot Tying Manual. Comprehensive 49-page PDF covering basic knot-tying and suture-selection skills. Easy to navigate when using as a reference.:

Suturing/Knot Tying videos:

There are opportunities to get involved in research related to surgery if you are curious or interested. Research related to surgery at Vanderbilt exists in many forms: clinical research, translational, basic science, quality improvement, and outreach.

Please feel free to contact Parker Evans or Kathleen Gallagher if interested in research and are looking for specific researchers that would be good to reach out to. Or if you have a specific area in mind you are interested in being involved in with research, don't hesitate to contact us and we can work to find the right people and projects for you to learn and participate in.