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University of California, Irvine Medical Center

Our program places strong emphasis on provision of excellent clinical care, establishing new horizons in minimally invasive surgery, education of residents and medical students in all aspects of surgery, and high-level surgical research.  Our program trains and prepares some of the finest young surgeons in the country for the rigors of academic or private practice as well as subsequent fellowship training.

Our general surgery residency program’s integrated and affiliated training sites include rotations in surgical oncology, cardiothoracic, vascular, gastrointestinal, colorectal, hepatobilliary, general surgery, surgical critical care, pediatric surgery, and trauma/acute care surgery. UC Irvine’s faculty and volunteer faculty, as well as that of our affiliate institutions, are committed to teaching and provide residents with a variety of resources and opportunities to engage their surgical knowledge. Surgical residents perform clinical rotations at our University Medical Center, the Veteran’s Affairs – Long Beach Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

Residents interested in research will find a broad range of resources and mentors. While not required, research during residency imbues critical skills and exposes the resident to the an additional  dimension of academic surgery. Options for one or two years of dedicated research outside of the clinical track are available.

Resident applications are accepted through ERAS and determined via the NRMP process. Matching applicants will begin their residency the following June.

Requirements for application:

  • ERAS Application
  • 3 Letters of recommendation
  • MSPE (Dean’s Letter)
  • Grades/transcripts
  • USMLE transcript

Applicants from international medical schools must have a valid California post-graduate training authorization letter (PTAL) and be ECFMG certified at time of application. 

We wish you the best of luck in your surgical pursuits, and thank you for your interest in our residency training program!


Brian R. Smith, MD, FACS
Associate Professor and Director
General Surgery Residency Program

To view Dr. Smith's faculty profile, please click here

Program Overview »

The UC Irvine Department of Surgery emphasizes six competence areas identified by the ACGME for organization of educational objectives and assessment methods:

  1. Patient care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of health.
  2. Medical knowledge about established and evolving surgical sciences, as well as the application of this knowledge to patient care.
  3. Practice-based learning and improvement that involves the investigation and evaluation of care for patients.
  4. Interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families and other health professionals.
  5. Professionalism, as manifested in a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities, adhering to ethical principles and demonstrating sensitivity to patients of diverse backgrounds.
  6. Systems-based practice, as manifested by actions that demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of healthcare, as well as the ability to draw effectively on other resources in the system to provide optimal health care.

For further eligibility requirements and resident information, please visit our Graduate Medical Education site. 

About Us »

In 2006, UC Irvine became one of the first educational institutions in the United States to be accredited by the American College of Surgeons for simulation training. As a Level I accredited state-of the art simulation center, UC Irvine offers residents the means to learn novel techniques to supplement their curriculum in both open and minimally invasive surgery.

At UC Irvine, residents receive exposure to all core components of surgery, as well as specialized training in surgical oncology, vascular surgery, minimally invasive surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, colon and rectal surgery, trauma and acute surgery, and transplantation.

Our education division is headed by our Director of Education, Dr. Jill Endres,  whose focus is to develop and implement novel curricula and enhance the surgical skills of our residents. Aside from didactics, residents are exposed to a wide variety of knowledge and skill building activities such as labs, FLS, oral board practice, pre-op rounds, professionalism and practice lectures and journal club.

Additionally, our program has the added benefit of an Associate Program Director, Dr. Maki Yamamoto and an Assistant Program Director, Dr. Dawn Elfenbein - both of whom have dedicated their roles to furthering education and research within the program. 

The UC Irvine, School of Medicine mission: Discover. Teach. Heal
Learn more about how the  UC Irvine Medical Center is living its mission through the  UCI Irvine Health Magazine and Helping You Live Well .

Teaching Hospitals »

UC Irvine Medical Center

UC Irvine Medical Center is an academic medical center and principal clinical facility for the School of Medicine’s teaching and research programs. The following services are provided: medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, family medicine, pathology, radiology, ophthalmology, neurology, anesthesiology, and pain management and rehabilitation. The medical center has cardiac, neonatal, respiratory, burn, and medical-surgical intensive care units. It is the designated countywide Level I tertiary trauma referral center.

  • 424 bed tertiary referral center
  • ACS Level I Trauma Center & Burn Center
  • Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center (CDDC)
  • Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care Center (C4)
  • Aesthetic Institute and Beckman Laser Institute 
  • ACS Certified Surgical Skills Training Center
  • Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Skills Test Center (FLS)

The UC Irvine Medical Center is located in the city of Orange and the university itself is nestled in Irvine (15 minutes away). 

Affiliate Teaching Hospitals
As part of our philosophy of training, UCI surgical residency includes exposure to all practice types (Academic, private practice, VA, multispecialty HMO) with the below training sites. 

Resident Curriculum/Training Philosophy »


The residency curriculum is a two-year cycle with teaching conferences oriented to the curriculum. It includes standardized readings and a review of surgical text, basic science, surgical decision-making, SCORE, AccessSurgery and the American College of Surgeons’ Surgical Education and Self-Assessment Program. 

In 2013, we moved to an iPad based curriculum featuring educational apps and tools aimed at improving didactic knowledge, study skills and help to maintain cohesive organization.  

Residents have a 4-hour protected time block to attend core conferences each Thursday.
Weekly core conferences consist of:

6:30 am to 7:30 am:    Didactics/Basic Science
7:30 am to 8:30 am:    Grand Rounds
8:30 am to 9:30 am:    Morbidity and Mortality Conference (M&M)
9:30 am to 10:30 am:  Resident Education (labs, journal club, pre-op rounds, town hall etc.)

Education and Core Conferences »

UC Irvine's Department of Surgery prides itself on its dedication to furthering knowledge. Core Conferences are held weekly for the department and feature resident didactics, grand rounds, morbidity and mortality conference and a resident education hour. In addition, each division meets to discuss its specific patient assessments and education. 
  • Core Conferences –  Thursday mornings (Didactics/Core Curriculum, Grand Rounds, M&M, Resident Education Hour), 6:30 am to 10:30 am
  • Hepatobiliary Tumor Board – First Monday of each month from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
  • Transplant Conference (includes journal club) – Fourth Monday of each month from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
  • Breast Conference – Second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 12 to 1 p.m
  • Integrated GI/Med/Surg Conference – First Wednesday of each month from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm
  • GI/Colorectal Conference –  Wednesdays (except the first Wednesday of each month) from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm
  • Vascular Conference Weekly –  Thursdays from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm
  • Trauma/Critical Care Conference –  Thursdays from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Burn Journal Club - 2nd Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 pm 
Orange County: Recreational, Cultural, and Social  »

With a climate that ranges from 50 to 75 degrees in the winter and 60 to 90 degrees in the summer, and close proximity to the mountains and the ocean, Orange County, California offers a wide variety of activities from skiing and snowboarding to surfing, sailing and other water sports. In fact, swimming, boating, surfing, skin diving and fishing are year-round sports. Orange County boasts expansive parks, scenic hiking, biking and jogging trails as well as public golf courses and tennis courts.

Hard core sports fans will enjoy frequent professional sporting events, including Angels’ baseball, the Anaheim Ducks for hockey and horseracing at the Santa Anita and Del Mar tracks.

Orange County is home to the nationally renowned South Coast Repertory, the Discovery Science Center, the Orange County Performing Arts Center, art museums, Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure, as well as numerous performance and sports venues.

Visitors to nearby Los Angeles will find some of the best entertainment facilities in the country including:  the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, the Geffen Playhouse, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theater and the Hollywood Bowl. A variety of smaller stage productions are also available in Hollywood and the nearby Melrose Avenue district. Extensive art collections are on view at the Los Angeles County, Norton Simon and Getty art museums, as well as at the Huntington Library, which is home to a world-class arboretum. There are also numerous smaller art galleries throughout the region.

The region’s extensive freeway system makes all of these activities readily accessible. San Diego, with Sea World, the prestigious San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, and the U.S./Mexican border are only a two-hour drive away.

View: Like a Local - Irvine

2016-2017 Chief Residents »

Claire Chavez, MD

Mark Hanna, MD

Vivian Le-Tran, DO

Steven Maximus, MD

Michael Morell, MD

Alexis Plasencia, MD

Resident Perspectives »

"There is so much support from the level of the attending physicians, to my co-residents, to the mid-level practitioners. I feel incredibly fortunate to be at UC Irvine and I couldn't imagine doing residency anywhere else."

"The best part of the program so far has been the people. My co-residents are easy to get along with, I feel comfortable discussing cases with my seniors and even the attendings. We get exposure to a lot of cases and as interns have a decent amount of time in the OR. The stereotypical surgical program (hierarchical in nature) does not exist here for the most part. You are among colleagues who will listen to you and help you improve on a daily basis."

"I was first interested in UCI Surgery because it is an academic center with a diverse patient population, a moderate sized residency class and is in a great location.  After working here for 3 years, I now know that the best part of UCI is the people.  The residents, attendings, students and staff truly work as a team.  We help each other, teach each other and support each other.  This is unique and not something that can be found in most surgical residencies.  The training is also excellent because we work at a University Center, VA, Kaiser and a private practice hospital."

"UCI surgery is different because it is not a program --it is a family. I first realized this as a Sub-I, and it becomes more solidified every day. An as a family, we want everyone to excel, we expect the best from each other, and we are always there for each other."

"The most important part of our program is the diversity that it provides its resident. We are a university program that experiences opportunities at multitude of different community programs. Our operating experience is diverse and extensive. We have the opportunity to operate with the world experts, and at the same time be able to experience the community, private surgeon’s point of view."

UC Irvine Surgery Residency - Alumni »

Department of Surgery - Graduated Residents

Our graduates have forged different paths based on their surgical passions. Some have pursued subspeciality fellowships in academic institutions while others have moved towards private, group or HMO practice organizations. 

Below is a list of recent graduates and their post-graduate destinations:

Graduation Year Post-Graduate Specialty
2015 Fellowship - University of Southern California Colon and Rectal Surgery
2015 Fellowship - UC San Diego  Minimally Invasive Surgery
2015 Fellowship - Cornell University Colon and Rectal Surgery
2015 Fellowship - Jackson Memorial Trauma and Critical Care
2014 Fellowship - UCSF Fresno MIS Foregut/Bariatrics
2014 Fellowship- University of Maryland, R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Surgical Critical Care/Trauma Surgery
2014 Fellowship - John Wayne Cancer Center Surgical Oncology
2014 Fellowship - Florida Hospital (Orlando) Colon and Rectal Surgery
2014 Fellowship - Indiana University Plastic Surgery
2014 Fellowship - University of Arizona Vascular Surgery
2013 Fellowship - Method Hospital System in Houston  Plastic Surgery
2013 Kasier Permanente - Northern California General Surgery
2013 Fellowship - University of California, Los Angeles Cardiothoracic Surgery
2013 Kaiser Permanente - Orange County  General Surgery
2012 Fellowship - University of California, Irvine Surgical Critical Care/Trauma Surgery
2012 Fellowship -  Oregon Health Science University Colon and Rectal Surgery
2012 Fellowship- Harbor UCLA Vascular Surgery
2012 Fellowship- University of Maryland, R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Surgical Critical Care/Trauma Surgery
2012 Kaiser Permanente- Downey, CA General Surgery
2011 Fellowship - University of California, Los Angeles Vascular Surgery
2011 Fellowship - University of California, San Diego Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
2011 Fellowship - Moffit Cancer Institute Surgical Oncology
2011 Fellowship - Cleveland Clinic, Weston, FL MIS Foregut/Bariatrics
2011 Fellowship - University of Washington  Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery
2010 Fellowship- University of Virginia Plastic Surgery
2010 Fellowship - University of California, Irvine Minimally Invasive Surgery
2010 Fellowship- Swedish Hospital; Seattle, WA Colon and Rectal Surgery
2010 Fellowship - University of Southern California Vascular Surgery


Zot Spot - UCI Residency News »

February 2017:

UC Irvine is proud to have participated in the Pacific Coast Surgical Association 2017!

Below are our resident contributions:

Abstract Title: Hospital Teaching Status Does Not Affect Outcomes of Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery  
Author: Colette Inaba, MD

Abstract Title: "Does high CMS Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating correlate with improved outcomes in advanced laparoscopic abdominal surgery?"
Author: Christina Koh, MD


October 2016:

UC Irvine is proud to have participated in the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2016!!

Below are our resident contributions:

Forum Session: General Surgery
Title: The Clean/Contaminated Appendectomy: Misclassification of Wound Class for Acute Appendicitis
Presenter: John Gahagan MD

Forum Session: Colon and Rectal Surgery V
Title: Management of Emergent Diverticulitis: A Comparison of Operative Approaches
Presenter: John Gahagan MD

Forum Session: Bariatric/Foregut I
Title: Outcomes of Esophagectomy by General vs. Thoracic Surgeon - Data from the 2011-2014 NSQIP Database
Presenter: Matthew Whealon MD

Forum Session: Bariatric/Foregut I
Title: Perioperative Outcomes of African American Patients Undergoing Bariatric Surgery
Presenter: Matthew Whealon MD

Forum Session: Vascular Surgery
Title: Comparative Outcomes of Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA) and Carotid Artery Stenting (CAS): Analysis of the ACS-NSQIP Targeted Vascular Database                                                                                                                                                      Presenter: Samuel Chen MD


January 2016:

Congratulations to John Gahagan and Sarath Sujatha-Bhaskar for bringing home the Dowden Cup as the 2016 SoCal ACS Surgical Jeopardy champions!!!
We're very proud of our team! Zot zot! 


October 2015:

UC Irvine is proud to have participated in the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2015!!

Below are our resident contributions:

Forum Session: Bariatric/Foregut I
Abstract Title: Reoperation After Bariatric Surgery: Still a Devastating Complication
Presenter: Matthew Whealon MD

Forum Session: Hepatobiliary and Pancreas I
Abstract Title: Readmission After Pancreaticoduodenectomy: An Analysis Of Risk Factors And Timing Of Complications
Presenter: John Gahagan MD

Forum Session: Bariatric/Foregut II
Date And Time: Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 9:45 am - 11:15 am Abstract Title: A Decade Analysis of Trends and Outcomes of Bariatric Surgery in Male Compared to Female Patients
Presenter: Monica T Young, MD

Forum Session: Colon and Rectal Surgery II
Abstract Title: Laparoscopic Ultra Low Anterior Resection with Colonic J-Pouch: Techniques for a Difficult Oncologic Resection (Video)
Presenter: Monica T Young, MD

Forum Session: Colon and Rectal Surgery V
Abstract Title: Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Epidural to Conventional Analgesia After Minimally Invasive Colorectal Surgery
Presenter: Mark Hanna MD, University of California Irvine

Forum Session: General Surgery IV
Abstract Title: Discharge Destination After High-Risk Surgery: Impact On Readmission And Mortality
Presenter: Mark Hanna MD

Forum Session: General Surgery IV
Abstract Title: Never Events And Hospital Acquired Conditions After Surgery: Lessons From the ACS-NSQIP Database
Presenter: Mark Hanna MD

Contact Us »

General Surgery Residency Program
University of California, Irvine
333 City Blvd West, Suite 1600 | Orange, CA 92868
Tel: (714) 456-5532 | Fax: (714) 456-7207

UC Irvine Health:   
University of California, Irvine:

Program Coordinator:
Tania Saba