Clinical Learning Environment

residentssurgrichards.jpgOn all clinical rotations, the care of patients is ultimately the responsibility of the attending surgeon. Nevertheless, the resident physician plays a pivotal role at every level of surgical care. Progressive responsibility with each year of surgical training is provided, as experience is gained in surgical decision making.   The responsibilities for patient care will be assigned to residents at the discretion of the attending surgeon, as deemed appropriate.

Our residents will receive exposure to the preoperative, operative, and postoperative care for patients in the principal components of general surgery: specifically, diseases of the head and neck, breast, skin and soft tissues, alimentary tract, hepatobiliary system, vascular system, endocrine system, the comprehensive management of trauma and emergency operations, and surgical critical care. In addition, we will provide clinical experience in Cardiothoracic Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Burn Management, Transplant Surgery, Surgical Endoscopy, Urology, Otorhinolaryngology, Gynecology, Neurosurgery, Surgical Oncology, Orthopedics, and Anesthesiology.

The core clinical education for the Surgical Residency Program takes place at both the University of South Alabama Medical Center and the University of South Alabama Children and Women's Hospital. Dedicated Academic Surgeons provide this educational experience in fully JHACO accredited tertiary centers.

To provide a broader educational experience, rotations away from the University System have been established. These rotations specifically provide experience with "bread and butter" general surgery, peripheral vascular surgery, surgical oncology, as practiced by prominent surgeons engaged in private venues in the Mobile Region. Our residents also rotate to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Gulf Coast), which provides expertise in surgery as only that patient population can impart.

  • ACS - Acute Care Surgery - emergency general surgery, trauma and plastic 
  • General Surgery - elective, urgent, and emergent general surgery and ENT
  • GI - Onc - metabolic, endocrine, colorectal, and surgical oncology
  • SICU - surgical intensive care unit, with critically ill surgical patients
  • BICU - adult intensive care unit for severe burns
  • Pediatric Surgery - rotation at USACW operating on pediatric patients
  • CVT - cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at USAMC with Cardiovascular Associates
  • Mobile Infirmary - general surgery and surgical oncology   
  • Neurosurgery - neurosurgical rotation covering patients at USAMC & USACW
  • VA Biloxi - general surgery and extensive endoscopic experience at the Veterans Affairs Hospital, Biloxi, MS
  • Night Float - evening in-house call coverage for USAMC



Surgical Simulation Center

The University of South Alabama has provided a multimillion dollar investment into the simulation laboratory at the USA Medical Center. This center provides state of the art technical simulations of both basic and complex procedures. It provides the novice with skills and muscle memory so that when their first endoscopy or laparoscopy is performed on a living patient, they will have at least practiced these techniques beforehand.


The University of South Alabama Medical CenterUSAMC.jpg

USAMC is an acute care center serving as the major referral center for Southern Alabama, Southeast Mississippi and portions of Northwest Florida. USAMC has an average daily census of 120 with a licensed capacity of 406. For the Department of Surgery, we house the Level 1 Trauma Center and the Arnold Luterman Regional Burn Center, as well as Bariatric Surgery Center, Digestive Health Center, and Cardiovascular Disease Center. Twenty-five percent of the admissions are through the Trauma Center with a large number coming through the emergency room. Of the 100 teaching hospitals nationwide, USA Medical Center is 3rd in the acuity index, measuring the severity of patient illnesses. A large portion of the patient population is indigent and we provide the majority of indigent care for the Mobile County and the surrounding region.

After the arrival of Dr Richards in 2009 as the Chair, the Department of Surgery has developed specialty surgical practices in advanced laparoscopic, gastrointestinal, colorectal, surgical oncology and bariatric surgery at USAMC. New operating rooms were added with state of the art high-definition videoscopic capabilities, along with instrumentation and personnel to perform more complex surgical procedures. The surgical service remodeled the ground floor of the Mastin building to serve as the clinic for the Gastrointestinal, baraitric and colorectal surgeons. The flexible endoscopy facilities were remodeled and expanded with addition of new video endoscopes and ultrasound and fluoroscopic capabilities. The Department of Surgery performs all of the outpatient endoscopies at this newly remodeled unit on the second floor of the USAMC. The medical center is adding more operating rooms and recovery room space to augment our outpatient surgery services on the first floor of the Medical Center.  There has been a 48% increase in general surgical cases performed at the Medical Center since the beginning of 2010 and has lead the program director to concentrate the Chief Residents at the Medical Center working closely with the full time faculty. Since there are no fellows at USAMC the residents have an undiluted experience working with fellowship trained colorectal, baraitric, laparoscopic, trauma, critical care and surgical oncologic surgeons.


USA Children’s and Women’s HospitalChildrens and Womens Hospital 2013 28 09 2.jpg

USACW, a specialty hospital dedicated to the healthcare needs of children and women, is home to a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, USS Hope Pediatric Cancer & Sickle Cell Treatment Center, an Obstetric Center including special care for high risk pregnancies and a state of the art imaging center for breast diseases. The hospital is approximately 160 beds in total and is currently undergoing a 73 million dollar addition and renovation which includes 8 new operating rooms, new pediatric intensive care unit, and expanded facilities for the neonatal intensive care unit. USA C&W serves as a major site for our pediatric surgical services as well as our women’s services including breast surgery. Pediatric surgery in particular is an exceptional service where the residents work closely with our 2 pediatric surgeons and have no fellows diluting their experienc


University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer InstituteMCI.jpg

The University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute provides exceptional patient care through innovative treatment and both clinical and basic research. The USAMCI is the first academic cancer research institute in the upper Gulf Coast region. The Institute was initiated in 2000, and is funded through philanthropic gifts; support from the state of Alabama; the city of Mobile, and Mobile county; federal appropriations; competitive contracts and grants; tobacco settlement funds; and the USA Foundation.  The USAMCI is the largest single research endeavor in the history of the University of South Alabama, with a total investment of over $125 million. The USAMCI has been greatly enhanced by the philanthropic support of the Mitchell family of Mobile. In 2006, the family made a $22 million gift to the University of South Alabama to support the Institute.  . In addition to improving cancer care, the Institute stimulates the growth of a strong regional economy built on biomedicine and biotechnology. Together with the entire USA Health System, USAMCI focuses on discovery and development of new and more effective treatments for cancer.

Surgical residents see patients in breast/endocrine clinic, colorectal cancer clinic and surgical oncology clinic. They participate in the multidisciplinary care of cancer patients.


Mobile Infirmary Medical Center

This is a 704 bed medical/surgical hospital.  This is a largely surgical hospital and performs more than 24,000 surgical procedures annually which is the 2nd largest surgical hospital in Alabama. We send 2 surgical residents to the Mobile Infirmary, one to the vascular surgery service to obtain a high quality peripheral vascular experience with Drs. Esses and Pfeiffer and another high quality surgical experience dealing with gastrointestinal, pancreatic and hepatobiliary malignancies with fellowship trained surgical oncologists, Dr. Lee Thompson and Dr. Russ Brown. In both rotations, the admissions are largely elective through their clinics which are located within the Mobile Infirmary grounds.


Veterans Affairs Systems

The Biloxi VA Medical Center is the primary inpatient care surgical care along the lower gulf coast of Mississippi, Alabama and Northwest Florida. Currently one PGY 2 surgical resident spends one rotation at the Biloxi VA Medical Center concentrating on flexible endoscopy and general surgery in a VA population. There is also an integrated clinic at the Biloxi VA that the surgical resident attends.


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