Basic Residency Program


  • Nine categorical positions are available each year, including 1-2 categorical positions offered in conjunction with the US Air Force.
  • 10-13 preliminary PGY-1 positions are offered each year for active duty Air Force physicians designated in the Pre Flight Surgery Surgical Training Track.
  • One to four civilian preliminary positions are offered each year through the match
  • Research is encouraged throughout the entire residency. There is time allotted between the clinical PGY-3 and PGY-4 clinical years for residents to pursue their interest in research or academic endeavors.  This time is not required but most residents take time for career development.
  • Funding is provided by the Department of Surgery for at least the first year of research or career development

The first distinction of our program is the diversity of clinical training. The centerpiece of the program is UC Davis Medical Center, a tertiary referral center for Northern California. The surgical care at the university includes trauma, acute care surgery, surgical critical care, vascular, surgical oncology, transplant, pediatric, burns and general surgery, including minimally invasive, bariatrics and robotic surgery.  The clinical experience at the University is augmented by our robust outside rotations in all clinical settings (private practice, HMO, military, VA, and charitable care).

Second is the research excellence at UC Davis and within the Department of Surgery. Cutting edge surgical research augments the clinical aspects of our training program. Many of the faculty in the department are funded and welcome resident participation in their research. Residents are able to take advantage of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, the William R. Prichard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis, the Clinical Investigation Facility at Travis AFB, and the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research.  Projects encompassing both clinical and basic science research are designed to better prepare our residents for fellowships, academic or private practice.

We augment our educational environment by providing specific training to our residents in the basics of adult education. We conduct a “Teach the Teachers” course to both our residents and faculty throughout the year to enhance the relationship among all learners, regardless of level.

First and Second Year Resident

The first two years of the program (PGY-1 and PGY-2) focus on nearly all areas of general surgery, including subspecialty care.  General Surgery rotations include gastrointestinal, oncology, acute care surgery, pediatric surgery, trauma, and vascular surgery. Subspecialty blocks include burn surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, ER/trauma, transplant, plastic surgery, and SICU. One month of vacation is taken each year by the residents. Rotations at the PGY-1 level are scheduled primarily at UC Davis Medical Center and focus on perioperative patient care.

The objectives of the first two-years of clinical training are:

  • to provide the residents with the patient-care skills and experiences needed in preparation for a residency in any of the major surgical subspecialties
  • to provide the fundamentals of basic science needed by surgeons
  • to provide experience in preoperative and postoperative patient care
  • to expose the resident to basic surgical techniques and minor surgical procedures

Patient volume per resident averages 10-25 patients, varying from service to service. PGY-1 and PGY-2 residents, along with the senior residents and attending staff, are responsible for the admission, evaluation, diagnostic studies, and the therapeutic plan of their patients. PG-I' s are not required to perform blood draws or other routine procedures such as Foley catheter insertion but are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these routine procedures.

Third Year Resident

Third-year residents (PGY-3) supervise junior housestaff in the preoperative and postoperative management of patients, including all outpatient activities. In addition, they perform moderately complex surgical procedures, thus progressively developing the dexterity and experience needed for a career in surgery. The resident's experience and ability determine the extent of delegated operative responsibility. The majority of the third year is spent on general surgery services. A thoracic surgery experience is also available this year.

Research Experience

Most, but not all, residents participate in a one to three year research experience (clinical or laboratory). The research experience is tailored to the career goals of the individual and permits either a commitment to a specific clinical discipline for extended specialized experience, or a commitment to bench research. The goal is to learn research design, experimental method and problem solving, data analysis and interpretation. This time may also be used to focus on other areas of career development including pursuit of a graduate degree.

Fourth Year Resident – Senior Resident

The fourth clinical year of surgical residency (PGY-4) includes a senior resident responsibility in pediatric surgery, transplant, minimally invasive and general surgery rotations at UC Davis Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers, David Grant and Sutter Hospital. A unique rural rotation in South Lake Tahoe at Barton Hospital is also available for experience in general surgery as well as other specialties such as OB/GYN, Orthopedics and ENT.  These rotations serve as the resident's introduction to independent patient care management and team leadership. PGY-4 residents assume responsibility for the team of junior residents on their service and perform major surgical procedures under the guidance of attending physicians.

Fifth Year Resident – Chief Resident

The final clinical year of the surgical residency (PGY-5) training program consists of focused experiences as the chief resident on surgical oncology, trauma, acute care surgery, colorectal surgery, and gastrointestinal surgery at UC Davis Medical Center. In addition, PGY-5 residents spend time at two Kaiser hospitals working with general surgeons who have practices that deal primarily with complex patients. The chief resident performs all necessary procedures in the course of treatment of his or her patients and delegates responsibility for performing all necessary diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to junior residents. The chief resident also participates in teaching junior residents, medical students, nurses and other paramedical personnel. Rotations are divided between UC Davis Medical Center, David Grant and the Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers.

Approximately 20% of our graduating chief residents enter general surgery, and 80% go onto fellowship training. Because of the high quality of training they receive, UC Davis surgery graduates have been successful in obtaining competitive fellowships. The research experience and broad training base have made our graduates extremely competitive with graduates from other programs.

American Board of Surgery Exam Results

•      100% Written Board pass rate for 10+ years straight*
•      National Average 2018 – 94%
•      92% Board Pass Rate (QE/CE)(last 5 years)**
•      National Average 2019 – 79%

*1 of 2 in California with 100% pass rate over 5 years
**Highest in nation for program with over 8 graduates/year

Operative experience: 2019 graduate
























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Post-residency fellowships at UC Davis provide opportunities for additional surgical-specialty training. Several divisions with established track records of clinical leadership and teaching excellence offer fellowship programs. These include ACGME-certificated fellowships in Burn,  Surgical Critical Care, Plastic Surgery, and Cardiothoracic Surgery, Minimally Invasive/Bariatric Surgery and a Vascular Surgery Fellowship. In order to ensure superior training for our general surgery residents, we have taken care to limit the number of graduate fellowship positions in our program. Because of the abundance of cases, our general surgery residents receive experience in many areas that is equivalent to what is offered by some fellowship training programs. We feel that our fellowships do not detract from the general surgery training program, but, in fact, enhance it.