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Surgery Chattanooga

Team training in the Surgical Skills and Simulation Lab

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 44 years — since the early affiliation between Erlanger Medical Center and the University of Tennessee in 1976, and is one of the longest serving chairs 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 past 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 its 2019 Distinguished Service Award at its 2019 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. 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's average hospital census is high.   Click on the hyperlink to access and review our Trauma Red Book

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.  Surgery residents also manage otolaryngology and urology patients. 

Residents completing the program have a successful pass rate on the certification examination of the American Board of Surgery. 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.

There are 35 total positions available in our Surgery Residency:

Five Categorical Surgery positions at each level, leading to board eligibility in general surgery
Preliminary Surgery positions are available for pre-requisite training for subspecialties such as otolaryngology and neurosurgery.

The Department of Surgery also sponsors several fellowship programs:

  • Colon and Rectal 
  • 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 Athens, Tennessee, located less than one hour north of Chattanooga. The resident works one-on-one with three faculty members practicing in rural settings within Tennessee. These faculty are graduates of our program and offer residents rural private practice experience. 

Program HandbookTrauma Red BookProgram HandoutSalary and BenefitsValue of PGY-1

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

Last Published: Sep 25, 2020