General Surgery Residency Program

Karen Brasel, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., General Surgery Residency Program Director

About our program

The general surgery residency program at OHSU is one of the nation’s largest, graduating 13 residents per year. In addition to its size, the program is unique because it offers a breadth of diversity in training via rotations at eight different hospitals in the Portland metropolitan area, and one in southern Oregon. The hospitals include a University-based medical center, a VA medical center, Children’s hospitals, an HMO, and community-based hospitals. Residents are exposed to a wide variety of teaching and practice models.

For the past 10 years, our program has been directed by Karen Brasel, M.D., M.P.H. Beginning May 1, 2024, Dr. Brasel will be stepping down in order to assume her new appointment as Vice President of the American Board of Surgery. Associate Program Director Dr. John Stowers will serve as interim program director while a national search is conducted.

The program curriculum includes skills labs for residents at all levels, from instruction in laparoscopic technique to round-table discussion regarding medical ethics and professionalism. Skills labs take place in our state-of-the-art surgical simulation center, VirtuOHSU, a highly versatile space supporting open, laparoscopic, endoscopic and microscopic technical skills training using task trainers, virtual reality, and synthetic or cadaveric tissues.

The residency also includes optional training in the Oregon towns of Grants Pass and Coos Bay. This rural surgery 6 months to a year is counted as clinical training by the American Board of Surgery. Six residents are eligible each academic year, as selected by the Program Director. Residents participate in cases with urologists, orthopedic surgeons, and obstetrician-gynecologists, along with general surgeons.

Most general surgery residents elect to do one year of clinical research between their third and fourth years of training. After their proposal is reviewed and accepted by the Department of Surgery Research Committee, residents begin their research year on July 1. In addition to research, residents in their research year take occasional call when necessary, participate on a variety of OHSU Committees, and assist with the general surgery residency interview process.  A second year of research is often possible.

Upon completion of the residency training program, many residents opt to do specialty fellowships. Recent graduates have obtained fellowships in such institutions as Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Cleveland Clinic. However, residents are well prepared to enter the independent practice of general surgery if they decide to forego additional training.

For further information regarding the general surgery residency program at OHSU, please contact us.

OHSU is an institutional member of the Association of Women Surgeons and The Society of Black Academic Surgeons

The Department of Surgery recognizes the widespread existence of systemic and structural racism in our community and nation. We are committed to combating this at all levels. By doing so we will address health inequities and promote diversity and inclusion. Join us in this effort as we strive to enhance our culture of care and tolerance.

Program mission statement

The program’s aim is to provide outstanding general surgical training for residents interested in exploring opportunities across the breadth of general surgery, as well as readying residents for either fellowship or independent practice. The residency program is committed to wellness and well-being, both individually and as a group. We value diversity in its many forms and strive to create an inclusive community. The program strives to provide opportunities to practice real-life scenarios, including mock oral examinations in the fourth and fifth clinical years of training as well as skills labs in the following arenas: laparoscopic skills, open surgical skills, central venous catheter insertion, endoscopy, ultrasound, common bile duct exploration, ethics and communication, and teaching and evaluation. Non-clinical topics, including wellness, leadership and practice management, are addressed during weekly protected Monday educational conferences. Training includes exposure to a breadth of practice models (academic, community, HMO), spanning surgical care for patients from infancy to the elderly, including veterans and homeless individuals, and encompassing a variety of races and ethnicities.

Program aims

  1. Train residents for independent clinical practice and success in fellowship
  2. Educate the next generation of surgeon educators and surgeon scientists
  3. Prepare graduates for leadership in today’s and tomorrow’s changing healthcare environment
  4. Cultivate a diverse and inclusive educational environment that is respectful to all

Mackenzie Emergency Assistance Fund

The Emergency Assistance Fund was established by the Mackenzie Society with aid of the 2020 Chief Residents to assist current OHSU general surgery residents who need short-term financial assistance due to food or housing insecurity, transportation needs, medical bills, or unexpected expenses. It is a grant, not a loan, and there is no expectation of repayment. The hope of the Mackenzie Society is that recipients will, at some point in the future when they are able, contribute to the society and the Fund to help future residents in need. 

Applications, which may by de-identified by the Education Manager once submitted, will be reviewed by the Program Director, Mackenzie Society President, and Education Manager. Click here to apply.

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