University of South Alabama

Advising Meeting

Mon., Jan. 26, 2015
at 11:30 a.m.

Mastin Bld. 2nd floor #218
~ Lunch Provided ~

RSVP 1 week in advance to Jill Garcia 251-471-7990 or



William O. Richards, M.D., F.A.C.S., Professor and Chair and Program Director
Department of Surgery, Mastin 721, 251-471-7993,


Faculty Advisors to Senior Students:

Dr. Sid Brevard -

Dr. Lee Grimm -

Dr. Salil Gulati -

Dr. William Richards -

Dr. Paul Rider -

Dr. Jon D. Simmons -

Dr. Marcus Tan -

Informal Description of the Clinical Discipline

The discipline of surgery encompasses many fields.  General Surgery Residency requires a minimum of five years of graduate training.  Several subspecialties require completion of a General Surgery Residency prior to subspecialty training (e.g. Cardiothoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Pediatric Surgery).  Other subspecialties require one to two years of General Surgery training.  General Surgery Residency is a rigorous but exciting experience.  Over the course of the residency, progressive responsibility is given to the trainee.  During the five years, the residents gain exposure to a broad spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical diseases.  Although acquisition of technical skills is important, the time and experience required to develop mature clinical judgment is the reason for a five year program. 

Most surgeons would agree that there is tremendous immediate and tangible satisfaction in the successful outcome of a well performed operative procedure.  Surgical decision making is both an art and a science and demands a constant updating of current knowledge as well as the ability to put that knowledge to practical clinical use.  Surgery incorporates proven practices while at the same time fostering technological innovation.

In these days of financial turmoil in the medical world as well as reorganization of the delivery of health care, medical students are often plagued by doubts as to their future education in medicine.  However, as the science and art of clinical surgery are further refined, the rewards of surgical practice in terms of personal satisfaction as well as patient appreciation will remain great.  These rewards are unique to the field and will remain unscathed by future economic and political events.  The foundation of surgery is solid and the future is bright.


Informal Description of the Clinical Discipline

Although Ophthalmology is sometimes regarded as a highly specialized field, the general ophthalmologist is, in fact, a primary care physician.  Patients who consult an ophthalmologist usually are self-referred and range in age from the newborn to the geriatric.  The ophthalmologist, like other primary care physicians, has the opportunity to get to know and follow patients and their families, allowing for continuity of care.

Most ophthalmologists practice a mixture of medicine and surgery, ranging from lens prescriptions and standard medical treatment to the most delicate and precise operative procedures.  The average American Ophthalmologist will see over one hundred patients in a work week and will perform two major medical surgical procedures, the most common being cataract extraction.  Ophthalmologists have always ranked among the most professionally satisfied physicians.  This is probably due to the opportunity to practice general ophthalmology in both the medical and surgical fields, the broad diversity of the patient population and the option to become subspecialized if one desires.

Like many other specialties, ophthalmology has undergone considerable subspecialization.  This usually requires a fellowship of one or two years.  The common areas of subspecialization include Cornea, Vitreoretinal Disease, Glaucoma, Neuro-ophthalmology, Ophthalmic Pathology, Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery and Pediatric Ophthalmology.

Nationally, approximately 90% of applicants obtained a first year position. Experience has shown that no single factor assures an applicant of obtaining a residency.  Academic performance is certainly one factor.  This is measured by college grade point, medical school class rank and grades, and Standardized Board scores.  Letters of recommendation, particularly the Dean's Letter, are important.  Applications are screened to select those to be interviewed  Some programs interview most applicants, while others are very selective.  A good interview can overcome deficiencies in other areas and a bad interview can dim an otherwise fine application.  It should be emphasized that each residency program weighs these factors differently, some placing more emphasis on academic, some on research and others on the interview.  Ophthalmology uses an early matching system to determine the selections.

Urological Surgery

Informal Description of the Clinical Discipline

Urology is the specialty involved with the male and female genitourinary tract.  It is primarily a surgical discipline but is broad enough to interact with a variety of other disciplines:  nephrology, oncology, endocrinology, behavioral science, and neurology.  During the last two decades, a notable shift from structure to function has occurred in the diagnosis and treatment of such problems as male sexual dysfunction, voiding disorders,  benign prostatic hyperplasia, and  female incontinence.

Traditionally, urologists were distinguished by their use of diagnostic and therapeutic instrumentation of the genitourinary tract.  Recent developments in the field of urologic instrumentation such as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, laparoscopy, and laser technology have replaced open surgery in the treatment of various urologic disorders, primarily in the treatment of stone disease.  Nevertheless, abdominal, pelvic and retroperitoneal surgery is a prominent feature in the treatment of urologic cancers and in reconstruction of the urinary tract.  Therefore, the student planning a career in urology will recognize the important roles of basic science, clinical medicine, urotechnology, and operative technique in the diagnosis and treatment of urologic pathology.

Future manpower trends in urology portend favorably to a career choice.  Despite the diffusion of urologic procedures into other specialties, the role of the urologist will be increasingly demanded particularly as the field of geriatric medicine emerges.  A decrease in the total number of urology residency positions currently available requires that students gain early exposure to urology during their clinical rotations and submit applications to residency programs in a timely manner.  As a constantly evolving field, urology provides both the practitioner and academician with challenges and rewards of treating patients by a variety of modalities.


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