Resident Testimonials

Why did you want to come to Ascension St. John?

    • It seemed to have the best blend of an academic program (research opportunities, good fellowship match, complex cases) and a community program (comradery, case volume, autonomy in OR, and only 1 fellow).

~John Kanitra, PGY-3

    • During my interview day, I was struck by how happy the residents were here. There seemed to be a great work/life balance, while still providing excellent technical training. I got the impression that training at St. John gave residents the tools to pursue competitive fellowships in a variety of specialties, but that residents did not necessarily have to complete a fellowship because they lacked operative and clinical skills. I appreciated the flexibility to be open to subspecialty training or to be equipped to go right into general practice after 5 years here.

~Victoria Simmons, PGY-4

    • Ascension St. John hospital offered several aspects that appealed to me. The hospital is neighboring both Grosse Pointe and Detroit, offering the experience of being able to treat a unique patient demographic. When I met the surgical residents here, they were very satisfied with their education and the amount of autonomy they had in the operating room ranging from basic surgical procedures to more complex operations. The community hospital setting also offered a welcoming learning environment. 

~Tatiana Fedorova, PGY-4

What’s your favorite service or favorite case?

    • My favorite service is the vascular surgery service. It is one of our busiest services and the attendings give residents a significant amount of autonomy running the service. You become quite comfortable with a variety of vascular conditions ranging from peripheral vascular disease to hemodialysis access. The case volume on the service is very high and residents become comfortably operating with their loupes. Residents also become comfortable doing angiograms and placing temporary hemodialysis lines, making them comfortable with difficult vascular access.  My favorite case is a carotid endarterectomy because it requires mastery of anatomy and technical excellence.

~E. Michael Grady, PGY-5

    • My favorite service is service 1. This is our true "bread and butter" general surgery service. You see a wide variety of pathology and it is a high operative volume as well. The attendings on the service are wonderful to work with and really give you a lot of autonomy. My favorite case is a trauma exploratory laparotomy because you never know what you're going to find, and you must be prepared to deal with whatever the injury is.

~Sejul Chaudhary, PGY-4

What do you wish you knew before starting residency?

    • Much of what is most important in being an intern/resident comes from what is learned on the job. Studying and reading are of obvious importance, but the skills and general knowledge that is built the first few months of residency is invaluable. There is a steep learning curve but being a part of a busy residency program with opportunities for early autonomy fosters confidence in both medical and surgical skills/knowledge.

~Nicholas Rauh, PGY-2

    • I wish I would've known how lost I'd feel starting residency. Luckily at St. John, the residents and staff are amazing and made the transition much easier and quicker than I thought it would be.

~Trevor Braeger, PGY-1

    • You’re going to make mistakes, there’s no way to avoid that.  But mistakes are learning opportunities.

~Kimberly Coughlin, PGY-5

What’s unique about this program?

    • I knew that I wanted to find a program that would teach me valuable technical and clinical skills right from the beginning. There is still a lot of floor work as a junior resident, but interns and second year residents are also covering cases on their own with the attending surgeon starting July 1st. The ACGME requires 250 cases by the end of 2nd year, which most of us had that number by the beginning of 2nd year, if not by the end of intern year. We also don't have fellows, so we can participate in major surgical oncology, vascular, and pediatric surgery cases. The program buys loupes for us our intern year, which is a huge bonus. We can use our educational money to travel to conferences, and our residents travel to different professional association meetings (Michigan ACS, Midwest Surgical, national ACS conference) throughout the year.

~Victoria Simmons, PGY-4

    • We function as a team and are not malignant. People are here to help you, not hurt you. We get hands on experience starting day one.

~Meryl Ethridge, PGY-3

What is the case volume like? 

    • The case volume is exceptionally high. Majority of interns achieve their first two year minimal case volume by the end of their intern year. Chief residents achieve their case requirements typically halfway through their chief year.

~E. Michael Grady, PGY-5

What’s day to day life like?

    • The interns arrive around 5:45 to get sign out. The patient list is made, and patients are divided up between the junior residents. We then pre-round and meet the chief resident around 7 to run the list. We discuss patients and put in any pertinent orders. Cases start between 7-7:30, so the morning is usually busy, and cases continue throughout the day. We check on patients, see consults, do bedside procedures and round with attendings in between cases. Sign out to the night call team starts at 4:30, with a hard rule that everyone who isn't on call is out by 5pm.

~Sejul Chaudhary, PGY-4

How does the call schedule work?

    • Each call responsibility is broken up by PGY year, and you typically take 5-6 calls per month. Call starts at 5pm and ends at 6am. As a PGY1-PGY4 you are expected to leave post call by 10am the following morning.  The interns take floor or ER1 call. The floor resident gets sign out on all the service floor patients and fields questions about those patients, sees new consults, and performs procedures on the floor. Second years take ER2 call, which means that they see surgical consults coming in through the emergency department - general, trauma, vascular, pediatric, anything. The ER1 helps the ER2 or goes to the OR overnight to help with cases. There is also NP coverage on the trauma service during the day and overnight on Monday-Friday. Third years take SICU call, taking care of patients in the SICU and CVICU, as well as surgical patients in the NICU, PICU, and MICU. Fourth year residents take senior call, staffing ED and floor consults and going to the OR overnight. All in-house residents respond to level traumas. Chief residents take home call and are available for help, coming into level 1 traumas and operative cases.

~Kathryn Rock, PGY-5

What type of research have you participated in?

    • There are plenty of research opportunities for those who are interested. As a current PGY III, I have published 4 manuscripts, with an additional 3 manuscripts under review (none are case reports). There are databases for Trauma, breast and surgical oncology and the attending faculty like to publish, which facilitates resident involvement in research.

~John Kanitra, PGY-3

    • I completed the minimum amount to fulfill my graduation requirements. Everyone is required to finish one research project prior to graduation.  The manuscript does not have to be published; however, the majority of the resident's projects are published and are presented at local and national conferences. 

~Mark Sarazin, PGY-4

What is education/conference like?

    • Our program emphasizes protected educational time. On Monday mornings, all the surgical residents have a one-hour lecture with rotating topics such as surgical oncology, breast surgery, program/quality improvement. On Tuesdays, the interns have an hour lecture with our program director focusing on ABSITE prep and basic science. On Wednesdays, the vascular team has a two-hour conference during which angiograms and other vascular topics are reviewed. Thursdays are our main educational day with three hours of protected time. The first hour is SCORE, the second is junior lecture for PGY 1-2 and tumor board for PGY 3-5, and the final hour is our morbidity and mortality conference.  We sometimes have guest speakers for grand rounds.  On Fridays, the SICU & trauma teams have lecture and teaching rounds.

~Jennifer Brady, PGY-5

What’s the biggest weakness of the program? Is there a specialty you wish you had more exposure to?

    • Our exposure to thoracic surgery is one of our biggest weaknesses. Although our residents achieve the minimal case volume for thoracic, the scope of our involvement on the thoracic surgery service needs improvement.

~Robert Foster, PGY-3

    • There is not an opportunity to take time off during residency to do additional training such as MBA, MPH or outside hospital research. We do not have as much exposure to transplant (liver, pancreas, small bowel), and endocrine surgery.

~Tatiana Fedorova, PGY-4

What perks come with residency at St John?

    • There are several perks within our program including $1500 meal stipend as well as free buffet lunch Monday-Friday, free parking in a covered garage, wellness money for health/fitness expenses, educational money for board review material/textbooks, incentives for attending local and national conferences. Vacation requests are consistently honored, with 3 total weeks of vacation time granted per year with an additional 4-5 day block off during either Christmas or New Year’s.

~Nicholas Rauh, PGY-2

    • We get a large education stipend from medical education and the department of Surgery.  It increases as you become more senior.  You can use the money once for an electronic device (computer, iPad, etc.).  You also receive an iPad when you start residency.

~Kimberly Coughlin, PGY-5

    • Our days off are always 2 full weekends (Saturday and Sunday) a month. I feel like this makes it easier to get things done on the weekend or see one another outside of work.  Even if someone is rounding on a weekend morning, they are free the rest of the day. One thing I did not consider before starting is that sometimes there will be a 3, 4, or 5 week stretch between weekends off. I still prefer having weekends off to random days off during the week throughout the month, but it is something to keep in mind.

~Victoria Simmons, PGY-4

What do you like to do outside of the hospital?

    • I like to run and play soccer including pick-up soccer games with other SJH programs mainly IM residents, EM residents, and cards fellows. I also frequently go with my classmates to enjoy the numerous restaurants and breweries throughout Detroit and nothing beats a good post-call brunch. 

~Tyler Williams, PGY-4

    • I go to the climbing gym often (which you can use your wellness fund to pay for).

~Mark Sarazin, PGY-4

    • There is so much to do outside of the hospital! We get 3 weeks of vacation a year, with the option to break up one of those weeks into individual days or blocks of days. Vacation scheduling is very flexible for the most part, if it is requested early. My class loves getting together for dinner or drinks! We have gone apple picking for the past 3 years. We get together in the summer and fall for bonfires. Michigan has so much to offer, with fun events and new restaurants to check out in downtown Detroit, kayaking or boating on the Detroit River or Lake St. Clair, and hiking up north. The residency program also organizes events throughout the year, including Top Golf, Whirleyball, and get-togethers like the annual Christmas party.

~Victoria Simmons, PGY-4