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Surgery Chattanooga

Team training in the Surgical Skills and Simulation Lab

The UTHSC College of Medicine Chattanooga is approved as a Sponsoring Institution for ACGME-accredited GME training programs and holds Continued Accreditation and Commendation without any citations (as of November 2021).

This dynamic Surgery Residency Program is sponsored by the largest department at the UT College of Medicine Chattanooga. The program currently has Continued Accreditation with no citations and  has received commendations for compliance with ACGME and Surgery RRC requirements. 

The Department of Surgery is led by R. Phillip Burns, MD, FACS, Professor and Chair of the Department.  Dr. Burns has served as Chair of the program for 45 years — since the early affiliation between Erlanger Medical Center and the University of Tennessee in 1976, and is currently the longest serving chair in the nation.  Dr. Burns is an immediate past member of the national Surgery Residency Review Committee that accredits surgery training programs across the country, and has served as President of two nationally renowned organizations:  Southeastern Surgical Congress and the Southern Surgical Association. During 2019, Dr. Burns was appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees of our major affiliated hospital and primary clinical training site, Erlanger Health System, the 6th largest public health system in the U.S. 

Dr. Burns was honored by the American College of Surgeons with the Distinguished Service Award at the Clinical Congress in San Franciso on October 26, 2019.  The ACS Board of Regents honored Dr. Burns for "his innovative vision as an integral engineer of the College's focused initiatives influencing general surgery training, ultimately creating better prepared general surgery residents entering practice with enhanced skills and confidence to further improve the quality of care for their patients." Dr. Burns is also recognized as "a role model to surgeons everywhere to always do the right thing for patients." 

The Surgery Residency Program Director is W. Heath Giles, MD, FACS. Dr. Giles is a 2005 graduate of UTHSC and 2011 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga General Surgery program. He completed a fellowship in Endocrine Surgery at Brigham and Womens, Harvard Medical School in 2012. He became the Surgery Program Director in 2015. The Surgery Clerkship Director for medical student education is J. Daniel Stanley, MD, FACS. 

Training is quite comprehensive, encompassing all areas of general surgery and related subspecialties.  Because of its Level I Trauma Center designation, the hospital's helicopter transport service, the kidney transplant program, and reputation as the tertiary care center for the Southeast Tennessee Region, Erlanger maintains a robust hospital census. 

Each year approximately 18,000 operative procedures are performed.  Surgery residents are involved in door-to-door care of approximately 90 percent of all patients admitted to the General Surgery, Thoracic, and Vascular Services.  

Residents completing the program have a successful pass rate on the certification examination of the American Board of Surgery. Our 3 year first-time pass rate for the ABS Qualifying Exam is 100% and Certifying Exam is 75%. Every graduate that has re-taken the Certifying Exam has successfully passed. Our graduates are truly "general surgeons" with a breadth of experience enabling them to successfully enter surgical practice or compete for nationally recognized fellowships. Our residents are prepared for any surgery career path.

We currently match 5 categorical surgery residents per year as well as preliminary surgery interns. 

The Department of Surgery also sponsors several fellowship programs:

  • Colon and Rectal Surgery
  • Surgical Critical Care
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Neuro-Interventional Surgery (non-ACGME accredited program)
  • Mastery in General Surgery (American College of Surgeons approved) 

Our rotations are primarily "under one roof," and there is daily exposure and involvement with the Department Chair, Residency Program Director, and other faculty. The majority of clinical training takes place within the main Erlanger campus, but we also provide a rotation in rural general surgery for each PGY-3 level resident in both Dayton and Athens, Tennessee. Each location is less than one hour from Chattanooga and residents have the opportunity to work one-on-one with 5 faculty members practicing in rural settings within Tennessee. 

Tracks and Sample Block ScheduleTrauma Red BookProgram HandoutSalary and BenefitsValue of PGY-1 Salary and Benefits

Be sure to check out our Photo and Video Gallery!

Dr. R. Phillip Burns, Professor and Chair, Department of SurgeryDr. R. Phillip Burns, Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery

Dr. W. Heath Giles, Program Director, Surgery ResidencyDr. W. Heath Giles, Program Director, Surgery Residency

Dr. J. Daniel Stanley, Surgery Clerkship Director
Dr. J. Daniel Stanley, Surgery Clerkship Director and Program Director for the Colon and Rectal Surgery Fellowship


May 26, 2022