General Surgery Residency Program

Academic faculty Slate Wilson, M.D.The general surgery residency program at Oregon Health & Science University 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, an HMO, and community-based hospitals. Residents are exposed to a wide variety of teaching and practice models.

The 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 new 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, animal, or cadaveric tissues.

The residency also includes an optional year of clinical research (granted through an application process in the resident’s third clinical year of training) or a year of rural surgery training in the Oregon towns of Grants Pass and Coos Bay. The rural surgery year is counted as a clinical year of training by the American Board of Surgery. Two 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.

Academic faculty Donn Spight, M.D. with residentMost 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. Find out more about research opportunities in the Department of Surgery.

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. Learn more about our ACS Transition to Practice Program.

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

Program Director

Karen J. Brasel, M.D.Karen Brasel, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., Professor of Surgery, is the General Surgery Residency Program Director, Vice-Chair for Education and Assistant Dean for GME at OHSU. She is also a member of the Educational Scholars Collaborative. She received her BA from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and her MD from the University of Iowa. She completed her surgical residency and her Master’s in Public Health at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul and her Surgical Critical Care Fellowship at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She comes to OHSU from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she was given a dual appointment as an Assistant Professor of Surgery and as an Assistant Professor in the Health Policy Institute in 1999. At MCW, Dr. Brasel served as a Clerkship Director, member of the Curriculum and Evaluation Committee, Director of Resident Research, Director of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program for eight years, and as a member of the Society of Teaching Scholars. She is the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the Association of Surgical Education’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 2006. 

Dr. Brasel is a nationally renowned leader in many aspects of surgery, including her role as Contributing Author and Sub-Committee Chair for the Surgical Education and Self-Assessment Program (SESAP®) for many years and as the prior ACS Committee on Trauma ATLS® Sub-Committee Chair and international director of ATLS®. She served two years as Chair of the Curriculum Committee for the Association of Surgical Education and has served on several committees for the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, including currently chair of the Critical Care Committee and member of the Board of Managers. She has also served on the Executive Committee of the American College of Surgeons Board of Governors and is a Director of the American Board of Surgery. She currently leads the American Board of Surgery's pilot program on establishing Enstrustable Professional Activities in General Surgery.

Dr. Brasel’s clinical practice is trauma/critical care and emergency general surgery. Her research focuses on surgical palliative care, ethics, education, and quality of life after trauma.

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

Association of Women SurgeonsThe Society of Black Academic Surgeons