Surgery Residency Program

A message from the Program Director

The Health Quest Surgery Residency Program offers exposure to a variety of surgical services and procedures to prepare graduates to excel in a variety of fields. Our program offers a robust service line of pioneering advanced procedures and quality care, including:

  • Minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery
  • Modern bariatric care
  • Comprehensive surgical oncology services with a dedicated surgeon-led teams in breast oncology, gastrointestinal oncology, liver/pancreas, thoracic oncology, head/neck, melanoma, and gynecologic oncology
  • High volume hepatobiliary and pancreatic services with an emphasis on minimally invasive liver surgery
  • One of the few hospitals to offer hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), hyperthermic intrathroacic chemotherapy (HITEC), and isolated limb infusion (ILI)
  • Multidisciplinary airway program
  • High quality breast surgery program including reconstruction
  • Progressive endovascular and open vascular surgery
  • Comprehensive cardiac surgery program
  • Multidisciplinary wound management and hyperbaric program
  • Trauma and acute care surgery program

Health Quest residents receive high-quality training with emphasis on early operative experience and incremental patient care responsibilities. We incorporate a curriculum utilizing state-of-the-art facilities that balance traditional surgical management with technology services, including:

  • Innovative simulation center
  • IBM Watson integration
  • Inpatient and ambulatory EMR
  • PACS medical imaging
  • da Vinci Surgical Systems, and more

The new patient pavilion opening in 2020 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center will add 15 OR suites, an innovative conference center, and private rooms to offer an enhanced patient care and educational experience. Vassar Brothers is also a Level II Trauma Center.

Our dedicated faculty is energetic, engaged and passionate about teaching clinical excellence. Our goal is to form a collegial environment, making resident wellness a top priority while maintaining emphasis on patient care. We understand a modern, strong, comprehensive residency training program should work in concert with resident health and well-being. Each resident is matched with a faculty mentor, with a 1:1 faculty-to-resident ratio. There is a strong support system to ensure residents are part of the family at Health Quest. At the current time we have no surgical fellows, so all teaching efforts and operative exposure is dedicated for our resident staff.

We are seeking good people with the potential to be great physicians and well-rounded surgeons and clinicians. In your search for a residency program, we can offer opportunities to structure training in pursuit of career paths in community-based general surgery, academic settings and specialized fellowship training. All residents will engage in scholarly activity, with a focus on research, quality improvement and outcomes-based practice.

We take pride in our clinical performance, our facilities and our training program, and we are extremely thankful for the great community we have at Health Quest. We hope you’ll consider joining us.

Dr. James Nitzkorski
Program Director, General Surgery Residency Program

For questions or more information, contact program manager, Maggie Forte, or (845) 790-1311

Program Structure

The five-year Health Quest General Surgery Residency Program is structured to ensure residents participate actively in a wide range of cases from all surgical specialties, including plastics, oncology, transplant and minimally invasive. Each rotation is structured as 2- to 4-month blocks, allowing trainees to be fully immersed in the surgical specialties to which they are assigned. Training sites include Vassar Brothers Medical Center (VBMC), Putnam Hospital Center (PHC) Northern Dutchess Hospital (NDH) and New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Residents will select two electives during both the PGY3 and PGY4 years. Electives may be any core surgical specialty, research month or any other rotation discussed and agreed upon in conjunction with the program director.

An example of one resident’s training in this program is shown below. This is just an example and may be adjusted by the program director to ensure adequate experience, case log numbers and ACGME compliance.

You can also download our Program’s Fast Fact Sheet here.
Rotation Colors are based on teams and coverage of service lines.

Academic and Research Offerings

Boot Camp – As a new resident, you will participate in an intern boot camp during your first week here. This will help you adjust to residency life and provide you with an overview of programs, topics and required information. Non-patient care/medical knowledge SCORE Curriculum topics are covered as well, including interpersonal communication skills, professionalism, systems-based practice, and practice-based learning and improvements.

ABSITE In-Training Exam
Residents’ medical knowledge and clinical reasoning will be benchmarked for measuring longitudinal growth through the results of the annual American Board of Surgery In-Training Exam. All general surgery residents will complete the exam. Results will be reviewed with the program director to inform discussions and individualization of curriculum and clinical training (e.g., reading material, board prep and electives).

Academic Didactic Schedule

Mandatory conferences are held on a regular basis in the General Surgery Residency Program. The following lecture schedule applies to the program and is required for attendance by residents and faculty.

All lectures are designed to provide residents with a broad range of knowledge on the ACGME competencies and the SCORE Curriculum concepts.

Multidisciplinary Tumor Conference – Occurs at 7am on every Tuesday. This includes topics such as GI, breast and thoracic.

Service Rounds – Occur daily each morning prior to first cut with the supervising faculty, chief resident, charge or OR nurse, and other pertinent members of the patient care team.

Grand Rounds – Occur once a month, on Thursday, October through June at 7:30am. Topics consist of a wide range of medical and surgical topics.

Resident Conferences – Take place on a weekly basis, on Thursdays, from 7am – 1pm. Each hour consists of a different type of didactic program.

Health Quest GME-Wide Resident Forums – Occur quarterly, following the joint-program lecture series. The Resident Forum serves as a venue for residents of all programs to air any concerns in a resident-only session. No faculty, leadership or administrative staff are present, unless invited. Two representatives from the Resident Forum will sit on the GMEC and bring forward any concerns discussed during the meetings. Topics may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress and depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Disruptive behavior
  • Burnout
  • Boundary violations
  • Impairment
  • Instructive feedback

The schedule below demonstrates a generic Thursday resident conference schedule:

Research Opportunities

Each resident pairs with a faculty mentor who offers encouragement and support. Mentors are tasked with assisting residents in background research, feasibility, Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, study design, implementation and analysis and quality improvement projects.

General surgery residents are encouraged to present all research within the department, locally, regionally or nationally, including during the annual Health Quest Program’s Resident Research Day, where residents of all specialties may present posters and oral presentations showcasing their work.

Clinical Trials:

Surgical Resident Resources

Residents have access to a quality assurance officer who assists in the development and implementation of all quality improvement projects. In addition to each resident’s project mentor, the quality assurance officer serves as an excellent resource for residents to use when working on quality improvement projects and implementation or analysis.

Residents are also supported by the quality assurance team committee at each training location. This experience provides residents with the ability to see quality assurance and improvement issues and solutions from a hospital perspective.

Residents are also provided with access to NSQIP, a surgical de-identified registry of all procedural cases that compares data between teaching hospitals across the nation. This serves as another great resource for residents to find data and conduct robust clinical research. This data is stored on a cloud-based library. In addition to NSQIP, residents have access to registries such as VQI and STS.

How to Apply

We accept all applications through the ERAS only and participate annually in the NRMP Match Program.

Health Quest Residency Interview Requirements

The following items are required for interview consideration. All items must be received through the ERAS application portal:

  • Personal statement
  • CV
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • USMLE Step 1 CK Score
  • USMLE Step 2 CS Score
  • USMLE Step 2 CK Score
  • MSPE (Dean’s) letter

Important Dates

We will interview candidates during select dates in November, December and January. Exact dates will be provided to the invited residency applicants via email notification. The annual schedule generally includes:

  • Mid-September: NRMP registration opens
  • Early October: MSPE (Dean’s) letters released through NRMP
  • Late November: Standard registration deadline for applicants
  • Late February: Rank order list deadline
  • Mid-March: Match week
  • Mid-March: Email notification of “You’ve Matched”