Program Director

Cary Aarons

Cary Aarons

The training program in General Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has a long-standing tradition in excellence. We continually strive to create an educational environment that maximizes the surgical trainees' academic potential. Our goal has been and continues to be the training of future leaders in academic surgery.

Residents are an integral part of the surgical health care team which includes Faculty, specialty residents and fellows, senior and junior general surgery residents and medical students. Educational advantages such as didactic training and investigative insight accrue from interaction with all members of the surgical service team. Medical students are assigned to all rotations throughout the school year and residents are the key influence in their educational experience.

The training of general surgeons encompasses education in basic sciences, training in cognitive and technical skills, development of clinical knowledge and maturity, and acquisition of surgical judgment. Our program provides the opportunity for residents to learn in depth the fundamentals of basic science as applied to clinical surgery. The program provides experience in preoperative, operative and postoperative care for patients in all areas of general surgery. The goals of our surgical residency program are to prepare the resident to function as a qualified practitioner of surgery at the high level of performance expected of a board certified specialist. Residents are provided adequate time and sufficient facilities for study.

Operative skill is essential for the surgeon and can be acquired only through personal experience and training. The program provides for sufficient operative experience to train qualified surgeons, taking into account individual capability and rate of progress. Graduate education in surgery requires a commitment to continuity of patient care.

The establishment of an inquiring and scholarly environment is the primary responsibility of the teaching staff. Only in such a milieu can residents develop the facility for critical analysis and further growth potential requisite for a lifetime of self-education after the completion of formal residency training. The teaching staff is well qualified to create and maintain such an environment and has sufficient diversity that all facets of surgery are represented. They have diverse expertise and demonstrated interest and ability in teaching, are willing to devote the necessary time and effort to the educational program, and permit residents to participate actively in the management of patients under their care.

The attending physician has both an ethical and legal responsibility for the overall care of the individual patient and for the supervision of the resident involved in the care of that patient. Although they require less direction than junior residents, even the most senior residents are supervised. A chain of command that emphasizes graded authority and increasing responsibility as experience is gained is established. Judgments on this delegation of responsibility are made by the attending surgeon who is ultimately responsible for a patient's care; they are based on his/her direct observation and knowledge of each resident's skills and ability. Proper supervision does not conflict with progressively more independent decision making on the part of the resident; thus, the degree of supervision may vary with the clinical circumstances and the training level of the resident.

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is the parent institution of the General Surgery Residency Training Program where residents spend 70% of their training time. The remaining 30% of training occurs at integrated and affiliated institutions selected for special educational experiences. Participating integrated hospitals include the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center (two blocks from HUP), Presbyterian Medical Center (nine blocks from HUP, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (next door to HUP), Pennsylvania Hospital (<1 mile from HUP).