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General Surgery Residency faculty conversing in the hallway at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

When you choose a residency or fellowship at Mayo Clinic, you become part of the nation's oldest and largest GME training program. 

You'll gain experience evaluating and treating patients with the full spectrum of diseases within your specialty, from rare conditions to more common cases. And "team approach" is not a cliche here — it's a way of practicing medicine and caring for patients every day.

As a resident at Mayo Clinic, you have access to tremendous clinical, educational, and research resources throughout your training. Over the years, Mayo Clinic and its programs have earned several honors that reflect the environment you'll learn in.

Clinical training

While PGY-1 and PGY-2 residents operate every other day like their senior resident colleagues, training during PGY-1 and PGY-2 is weighted to preoperative and postoperative patient care.

PGY-1 rotations include trauma, critical care and general surgery; vascular surgery; pediatric surgery; plastic surgery; and rotations with general surgery staff and chief residents.

In PGY-2, you serve as the senior resident in the surgical intensive care unit and have rotations in general surgery, colon and rectal surgery, endoscopy, and pediatric surgery. Five weeks of elective time is often used to experience cardiac, general, or other subspecialty surgery areas.

During PGY-3 and PGY-4, your training emphasizes surgical technique and skill refinement with rotations that include transplant surgery, vascular surgery, thoracic surgery, colon and rectal surgery, endocrine surgery, and hepatobiliary surgery. PGY-4 residents lead our trauma, critical care, and general surgery team to care for critically injured patients coming to Mayo Clinic from throughout the Midwest.

As a chief resident in PGY-5, you lead your own surgical team and assume full responsibility for patient and resident team management.

Typical rotation schedule


Trauma, critical care, and general surgery 3 months
General surgery 5 months
Vascular surgery 1.5 months
Pediatric surgery 1 month
Plastic surgery 1.5 months


General surgery 3 months
Trauma, critical care, and general surgery 4.5 months
Colon and rectal surgery 1.5 months
Endoscopy and elective 1.5 months
Pediatric surgery 1.5 months


General surgery 3 months
Pediatric surgery 3 months
Transplant surgery 1.5 months
Thoracic surgery 3 months
Trauma, critical care, and general surgery 1.5 months
Vascular surgery 1.5 months


General surgery 6 months
Colon and rectal surgery 1.5 months
Vascular surgery 1.5 months
Trauma, critical care, and general surgery 3 months

PGY-5 (chief residents)

General surgery 10.5 months
Colon and rectal surgery 1.5 months

During PGY-3, you may elect to spend six weeks at one of two off-site rotations — managing pediatric surgical patients at the Children's St. Paul Pediatric Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, or caring for general surgery patients at Mayo Clinic Health System — Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Both sites reside an hour from Rochester by car and have numerous busy surgeons in a friendly environment void of other residents or fellows. Mayo Clinic funds the authorized additional costs of housing and licensure fees for these rotations. Our residents consistently rate these rotations as highly educational.

Surgical Olympics

Mayo Clinic's Surgical Olympics evaluates General Surgery interns on surgical skills and knowledge. The Olympics have 17 stations, some of which include:

  • Knot tying
  • Lap skills
  • ABG interpretation

Interns are tested upon matriculation and again in January to see their improvement.

Video: Mayo Clinic Surgical Olympics


Video: Mayo Clinic Surgical Olympics

Operative experience

The operative experience of residents completing the General Surgery Residency Program is well within the guidelines of both the Residency Review Committee for Surgery of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Surgery.

For example, the average total numbers for 10 residents who finished the General Surgery Residency were:

Major operations  
As chief resident 324 operations
As junior surgeon 724 operations
As teaching assistant 34 operations
Total 1,082 operations


You are required to become certified in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) prior to the start of your residency. You must be certified in BLS and ACLS before you begin your trauma, critical care, and general surgery rotations. Renewal courses will be offered through Mayo Cardiac Life Support Education.


Moonlighting is permitted for licensed residents only if you are in good academic standing and you do not have clinical responsibilities, such as during research time or while you are on vacation.

Career development

You meet periodically with various faculty members, administrators, and the program director to discuss your individual career goals. Mayo Clinic recruits many of its staff physicians from its own training programs, so when you successfully complete your general surgery training, job opportunities may be available at one of Mayo Clinic's group practices.


Find opportunities to conduct clinical, basic science, and translational research either as a participant in the Clinician-Investigator Training Program or as part of your clinical rotations with faculty and advisers.


To ensure that you acquire adequate knowledge and develop your technical skills, your performance is monitored carefully during the course of the General Surgery Residency.

Your supervising faculty member formally evaluates you after each clinical rotation. Each evaluation is reviewed carefully by the program director. Electronic access allows you to develop a portfolio of evaluations, curriculum vitae, educational competence, and academic effort that will be yours upon graduation.

Our Clinical Competency Committee reviews each resident twice a year. Your performance in all aspects of surgery must be satisfactory at each level of training before you will be promoted to more advanced levels. Mayo goes to great lengths to help struggling trainees improve their performance, and a track record of graduating chief residents successful in fellowships or private practice is testimony to a wonderful system of learning.

In addition, you regularly evaluate the faculty and our program to ensure that your educational needs are met.