General Surgery Residency Update - November 2021
Nov 19, 2021 9:00 AM
Despite the lingering impact of COVID 19, the 2021-2020 academic year for the general surgery residency program is now in full swing at the University of Utah – including the 2021 Interview Season. We received a record 1,116 applications for 6 spots. This year is especially exciting due to the significant efforts on behalf of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) being made at all levels – GME, SOM, the Department of Surgery, the Division of General Surgery and the General Surgery Residency Program – which leads the way at the University of Utah with 25 of 36 current residents being women! This year we are interviewing 60 accomplished and remarkably diverse applicants. We look forward to seeing who will be joining us in July 2022! Until then, let us…
INTRODUCE our 6 newest members of the University of Utah General Surgery Residency family: Dr. Annalise Manley Deane from the Oregon Health Science University SOM, Dr. Cecilia Im from the University of California - San Francisco SOM, Dr. Fidel Lopez-Verdugo from Tecnologico de Monterrey Escuela de Medicina, Dr. Jessica Smith from the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Dr. Hannah Wilcox from the University of New Mexico SOM, and Dr. Megan Wojick from the Virginia Commonwealth University SOM. This is a fantastically strong and tight-knit intern group that managed to connect before even starting internship and despite virtual interviews! We are thrilled to have them with us.
ACKNOWLEDGE our terrific second year residents, including Drs. Abbie Alexander, Noah Brown, Becca Empey (the proud new mother of Jack Ryan Empey), Kartemus Heary, Colleen McDermott and Alex Trinh for surviving internship in a virtual world! This stalwart group of residents have persevered and progressed despite being largely isolated from their peers. Indeed, graduation dinner in June was the first in person program-wide event that they were able to attend – and they completely missed the “privilege” of being on the front row during didactic conference! We are all hoping that COVID will take a break soon and allow us to meet in person for our didactic conferences so that all of our residents can be together and support each other.
THANK our amazing third year residents. Still one of the toughest years of residency, this incredible group of young surgeons, including Drs. Emily Adams, Markus Boesl, Alyssa Brandt, Maks Gold, Molly Leonard, and Lauren McGuire, continues to shine as they are now leading teams of more junior residents and students, while providing outstanding clinical care for our patients.
RECOGNIZE the incredible work that is being accomplished by our residents in their Professional Development Years. Drs. Meghan Mali, Stephanie Iantorno, Aislinn Lewis, Sarah Schoenhals, Lauren Slattery and Andrea Williamson are investigating various aspects of global surgery (both domestic and international), pediatric surgery, burn surgery, endocrine surgery, palliative care and surgical education. Many have presented and published already and a number are getting additional degrees. In addition, they continue to provide service to the program such as teaching medical students and helping with the interview process. We could not function without them!
PRAISE our 4th year residents, including Drs. Sasha Acher, Josh Bleicher, Brian Cain, Aubrey Place, Alexandria Tran, and Megan Zak, as they take a major step up in clinical training and leadership. This is also a year of major career and life decisions. A number of our PGY4’s are considering fellowship training in a variety of areas including surgical oncology, transplant and colorectal. As we strongly emphasize to our applicants, anyone who graduates from the University of Utah General Surgery Program will be capable of independent practice as a general surgeon. If someone chooses to do a fellowship, it is driven by an interest in that specialty – not due to a need for extra time in training. This is completely true for this group of talented young surgeons!
HAIL our outstanding group of chief residents. Dr. Jessica Blumhagen, one of our enrichment chief residents, who came to us from the University of Washington SOM, is looking to practice general surgery next year. Dr. Maranda Pahlkotter, who went to medical school at the Wayne State University SOM and who is one of our administrative chief resident, will be doing a surgical oncology fellowship at Mt. Sinai in New York City. Dr. Tyler Pender, from the Loma Linda University SOM, one of our education chief residents, will be staying at the University of Utah for a surgical critical care fellowship. Dr. Liese Pruitt, one of our administrative residents (and the proud new mother of Aviva “Avi” Magara Pruitt-Knox), who joined us from the University of Chicago SOM, will be doing a pediatric surgery fellowship at The Ohio State University. Dr. Riann Robbins, one of our education residents, came to us from the (renamed) Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine at the University of Utah and will be doing a fellowship in surgical critical care at the University of Minnesota next year. Dr. Mark Taylor, one of our enrichment chief residents, who joined us from the University of Nevada SOM, will be practicing general surgery next year. We look forward to watching their lives and careers unfold and stand confident that they will all be amazing and successful in the years to come!
Despite the continued virtual educational environment and persistent uncertainty with COVID 19, this amazing group of surgeons-in-training continues to push forward, improving their knowledge and skills, and taking exceptional care of patients. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their support of our program, division and the institution in providing exceptional care for our surgical patients. As I have been telling all of the applicants, I am so lucky to be the Program Director for such an incredible group of talented, smart, dedicated and hard-working people. It is truly because of these incredible young colleagues that the future of surgery remains brighter than ever. Go Utah Surgery!!