General Surgery Residency

Program Description

Emergency room enterance of the Medical Center of Central Georgia

Residency Training

The resident training program is fully accredited by the Residency Review Committee (RRC) for Surgery under the auspices of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). At the time of the RRC visit in November 2010, a full five year approval was granted with no citations or concerns.

Side of the Mercer University School of Medicine buildingThroughout the five year training program, residents assume increasing clinical responsibilities. On completion of the program, residents will possess the core knowledge expected of all surgeons and will master the fundamentals of basic science as applied to clinical surgery.

Rotations address the areas that constitute the principal components of general surgery, specifically diseases of the head and neck, breast, skin and soft tissues, alimentary tract, abdomen, vascular systems and endocrine system. The program also generously covers the comprehensive management of trauma, emergency surgery and surgical critical care. Educational programs are supported by both our expanding surgical staff as well as an excellent group of private surgeons, all of whom are general surgeons and surgical subspecialists, and all of whom have clinical appointments in the department.

Each rotation is designed to assure that the trainee receives the required experience in all the surgical specialties including cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, urology, gynecology, neurological surgery and orthopedics. Experience on the anesthesiology service is also obtained. Additionally, there is a vast experience in all phases of endoscopy. This includes esophagogastroduodenoscopy, colonoscopy, and bronchoscopy. A large number of laparoscopic and thoracoscopic procedures are performed by the surgery residents as well as operative choledochoscopy.

Front enterance of The Children's HospitalA broad and advanced experience in pediatric surgery is obtained at the Navicent Health under the direction of pediatric surgeons. The experience for residents includes all levels of pediatric surgical care, from routine hernias, appendectomies and pyloromyotomies to advanced procedures on newborn infants and pediatric surgical oncology. Like most other surgical subspecialties in the program there is no fellowship program in pediatric surgery so all of the ‘good' cases go to the resident on the service. The Children's Hospital at TMCNH provides a full range of pediatric subspecialties, including a 12-bed pediatric intensive care unit, and a 35-bed neonatal intensive care unit.

Most of the cardiac surgery performed in this area is accomplished at Navicent Health under the aegis of attending cardiac surgeons. There is an abundant plastic surgery experience. Trauma surgery is emphasized, as Navicent Health is a Level I Trauma Center. A trauma registry is kept and approximately 250 trauma admissions are entered each month.

Transplant surgery is not performed at Navicent Health, so to allow residents to have hands-on experience in this sub-specialty; a rotation has been established at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Each PGY-3 resident spends one month on the transplant service at that institution.

Organization of the Surgical Service

The Surgical Teaching Service is divided into teams, each led by a PGY-4 or PGY-5 resident under the direction of a full-time faculty member. The four chief residents alternate serving as administrative chief resident for three months. Assigned to each section are private attending surgeons in general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, urology, plastic surgery and head and neck surgery. Six full time surgeons, one nurse practitioner and two residents manage the trauma service. In 2017, several more nurse practitioners were added to the trauma service.

A night float system exists for nightly inhouse call with a lower level (first or second year), mid-level (second or third year) and a chief (fourth or fifth year). Each resident is free of responsibilities at least one day in seven. The teaching program for surgical residents at Navicent Health includes patients admitted through the outpatient surgery clinic and the emergency room. Patients are assigned to a full-time surgical faculty member or to an attending surgeon who has a clinical faculty appointment at Mercer University School of Medicine. Residents assume a major role in teaching and supervising medical students in their eight week junior surgical clerkship.


Resident Whaun in the labTo help residents sustain their interest in surgical basic science, a research rotation will consist of two months during the residents' second year. In addition, the residents will be involved in a clinical research throughout their five years. Our goal is to provide depth to their education in problem-based learning and improvement, and to provide opportunities to contribute to the surgical literature.


We provide a comprehensive didactic program in resident education. We want to incorporate faculty lectures, resident-led discussions, and journal club over our primary education day, which is Tuesday. We meet at 4:00 P.M. to review both chapters from Sabiston as well as have a resident-led question-and-answer session to present board review questions on that particular chapter. We also use the SCORE curriculum to supplement our knowledge base as it offers articles, chapters, multimedia and questions. Third year residents attend the Advanced Trauma Operative Management (ATOM) course to provide basic training in operative trauma. By the end of the day, all residents have had a comprehensive, organized exposure to surgical conditions of the particular topic that will help lay a foundation for further study.

Transition to Practice Program

Front entrance way to Crisp Regional HospitalThe Transition To Practice Program is thriving in Cordele, Georgia. As one of the original four programs in the U.S., Mercer has continued to pursue its mission to train physicians to provide quality care in rural and underserved areas. The program is hosted by three board certified general surgeons with a wide range of experience located in a town with a population of about 10,000, and a total service area covering over 4 counties in South Georgia. Participants in the program, known as Junior Associates, are involved in all areas of practice including dedicated office time, daily rounds, and operating time on their own as well as with the other three surgeons. Limited subspecialty coverage provides opportunities for a broad experience.

Crisp Regional Hospital is a 65 bed regional hospital located just off Interstate 75 about an hour south of Mercer's main campus. As a Level 4 trauma center, they provide immediate care and stabilization of injured patients in their area. Many are admitted and treated at their facility, but some require transfer to the level one center. In trauma, as well as general surgery situations, deciding appropriate care with regard to availability and use of resources at smaller facilities versus transfer to a larger hospital is a critical thinking process paramount in rural surgery practice. Junior associates are able to negotiate the decision making process as well as obtain hands-on operating experience in an autonomous environment with the safety net of an experienced surgeon providing back-up when needed.