A message from the Program Director
The Health Quest General Surgery Residency Program offers exposure to a variety of surgical services and procedures to prepare graduates to excel in varied fields. Our program offers pioneering advanced procedures and quality care, including the following:
- Minimally laparoscopic and robotic surgery
- Modern bariatric care
- Comprehensive surgical oncology services with dedicated surgeon-led teams in breast, gastrointestinal, liver/pancreas, thoracic, head/neck, melanoma and gynecologic oncology
- High-volume hepatobiliary and pancreatic services that emphasize minimally invasive liver surgery
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), hyperthermic intrathroacic chemotherapy (HITEC) and isolated limb infusion (ILI), one of the few hospitals to offer these services
- 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
Our residents receive high quality training with an 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 the following:
- Innovative simulation center
- IBM Watson integration
- Inpatient and ambulatory electronic medical record (EMR)
- Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) medical imaging
- da Vinci Surgical Systems and more
The new Patient Pavilion at Vassar Brothers Medical Center will add 15 operating room (OR) suites, an innovative conference center and private rooms for 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 priority while emphasizing 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. Currently, we do not have surgical fellows, so all teaching efforts and operative exposure are dedicated to 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 engage in scholarly activity, focusing 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
General Surgery Residency Program
For questions or more information, contact program manager, Maggie Forte, MForte1@Health-quest.org or (845) 790-1311
Statement on Diversity
The Department of Surgery at Nuvance Health – Vassar Brothers Medical Center is committed to fostering a culture that reflects the incredibly rich diversity of our community and of the patients we treat. The Department of Surgery welcomes individuals of all backgrounds, cultures and individual differences regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.
We are committed to inclusion, and we believe that a diverse academic community enhances our ability to treat our patients and train our medical students and residents.
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 blocks, fully immersing trainees in the surgical specialties to which they are assigned. Training sites include Vassar Brothers Medical Center (VBMC), Northern Dutchess Hospital (NDH) and New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Residents will select two electives. 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.
Rotation colors are based on teams and coverage of service lines.
All surgical services are supported by an outstanding team of surgical PAs.
Block – 2020 – 2021
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
Most didactic experience occurs on Thursday mornings. Residents enjoy protected time to focus on the educational aspects of residency. Mandatory conferences are held regularly in the Health Quest General Surgery Residency Program. The following lecture schedule applies to the program, and attendance by residents and faculty is required.
All lectures are designed to provide residents with a broad range of knowledge on the ACGME competencies and the SCORE Curriculum concepts.
Weekly, 7 am Thursdays
Program Director’s Conference
Informal case discussions and board review scenarios, Thursdays
Multidisciplinary Tumor Conference
Breast – Tuesdays 7:30 am
Thoracic – Tuesdays Noon
Rectal/Upper GI – Wednesdays 7:30 am
Head/Neck – Thursdays 7:45 am
Daily each morning before first cut with the supervising faculty, chief resident, charge or OR nurse, and other pertinent members of the patient care team.
Monthly topics cover a wide range of medical and surgical subjects.
Quarterly, system-wide conference dedicated to wellness. Recent topics included “Nurturing Resilience in Ourselves and Others” and “Injustice and Bias in Healthcare.”
Each resident pairs with a faculty mentor who offers encouragement and support. Mentors assist 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 Resident Research Day, when residents in all specialties may present posters and oral presentations showcasing their work.
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.
First year operative experience
Early and robust operative experience with proper supervision and teaching is emphasized. Our first class of PGY1 residents had an outstanding operative experience especially considering the partial temporary reduction in surgical volume due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Case Volume: Cases performed by each resident during the PGY1 year
Resident 1 – 152 cases
Resident 2 – 206 cases
Resident 3 – 156 cases
View our case log below. This is the case log for all three PGY1 residents during the PGY1 year.
Health Quest – Vassar Brothers Medical Center (VBMC) surgical residents have important teaching roles for medical students. We are a primary teaching site for third- and fourth-year students at the Touro College of Medicine, and we routinely welcome visiting medical students to our services.
In addition to teaching medical students, PGY1 residents from the VBMC Transitional Year Residency (Blue, Green) and the Emergency Medicine Residency (Trauma) rotate through the Department of Surgery.
How to Apply
The following items are required for interview consideration. All items must be received through the ERAS application portal:
- Personal statement
- Three (3) letters of recommendation
- USMLE Step 1 CK score
- USMLE Step 2 CS score
- USMLE Step 2 CK score
- MSPE (Dean’s) letter
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”
- Mid- March: MATCH DAY CELEBRATION