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General Surgery Residency Curriculum

Our curriculum offers extensive hands-on training in all facets of general surgery and surgical specialties. Rotations and electives allow you to train regionally, nationally and internationally.

How to apply

Training curriculum and schedule

Gundersen's General Surgery Residency is a 5-year program leading to American Board of Surgery eligibility. You will gain vast experience across 5 surgical teams covering vascular, pediatric, minimally invasive, foregut, hernia, colorectal, hepatobiliary, pancreatic, gastrointestinal, trauma/critical care, breast and endocrine surgeries. 

Because there are no residents or fellows in surgical subspecialties, you will be directly involved in the care of patients in these areas. Rather than serving as observers or second assistants, you will receive hands-on experience as first assistants or as the operating surgeon. 

You will complete rotations across the spectrum of general surgery. Two away rotations are held at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison; PGY-2 and PGY-3 residents complete 4-week rotations on burn surgery and transplant surgery, respectively. 

There are also 2 months of elective time (one each during the PGY-3 and PGY-4 years). You can use this time for a variety of electives (rural surgery, international rotations, national rotations with underserved populations, research). Some choose to focus on a surgical specialty, such as endocrine, breast, cardiothoracic, plastics or orthopedics. 

Clinical rotations


  • General Surgery/Acute Care Surgery/Trauma Surgery/Vascular Surgery/Night Float 
  • Emergency Department  
  • Anesthesia  
  • Surgical Intensive Care Unit  


  • General Surgery/Acute Care Surgery/Trauma Surgery/Vascular Surgery/Night Float 
  • Burn Surgery (UW-Madison)  
  • Thoracic & Cardiothoracic Surgery  
  • Surgical Intensive Care Unit  
  • ENT 
  • Urology 


  • General Surgery/Acute Care Surgery/Trauma Surgery/Vascular Surgery/Night Float   
  • GI/Endoscopy 
  • Surgical Intensive Care Unit 
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology 
  • Transplant Surgery (UW-Madison) 
  • Elective (Rural Surgery, Global Surgery or Research


  • General Surgery/Acute Care Surgery/Vascular  
  • Surgery  
  • GI/Endoscopy  
  • Thoracic & Cardiothoracic Surgery  
  • Interventional Radiology  
  • Elective (Rural Surgery, Global Surgery or Research)  


  • General Surgery/Acute Care Surgery/Vascular Surgery  
  • Chief Surgery Resident Service 

Specialty services


One month during your PGY-1, you will work individually with one of the department's anesthesiologists to learn airway management, support of the anesthetized patient, regional anesthesia, respiratory care and care of ICU patients. Challenging cases are discussed at monthly conferences. 

Burn Surgery (UW-Madison)

You will gain an understanding of the pathophysiologic effect of burns and soft tissue infections, effectively manage patients with complex multi-system injuries, and organize healthcare facilities for ambulance services, in-hospital care and rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 4 weeks during your PGY-2. Housing in Madison, Wis., for this required external rotation is provided by Gundersen free of charge. 


Work with our gastroenterologists to learn the indications, complications and techniques of colonoscopy and esophagogastroduodenoscopy. You will also be exposed to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and other therapeutic endoscopy techniques. 

Interventional Radiology

As a PGY-3 resident, you will become capable of providing pre-procedural, intra-procedural and post-procedural care for interventional radiology patients. You will increase your familiarity and skill related to image-guided procedures. 


This rotation during your PGY-3 is to further enhance your knowledge of obstetric and gynecologic care while increasing your skill in examination, understanding and treatment of women and those disease states related to the reproductive system. With more than 1,500 deliveries a year, you will have ample opportunities to work with board-certified obstetricians/gynecologists on a wide range of gynecological experiences.   


During PGY-2, you will become capable of providing excellent pre-operative, post-operative and post-discharge care for all patients on the head and neck service. You will participate in the evaluation of otolaryngology patients in the outpatient clinic, urgent care and emergency department, and evaluate new hospital patients referred for consultation to Otolaryngology. You will also participate in elective and emergency head and neck operations in both the hospital operating room and outpatient procedure rooms. For most cases, you will act as a first assistant and may function as the operating surgeon on selected cases. 

Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

You will work closely with cardiovascular surgeons on diagnostic evaluation of patients, interpreting results and assisting at major operations. Expect to gain experience in cardiac surgery, thoracic and thoracoscopic surgery during your PGY-2 and PGY-4.  

Transplant Surgery (UW-Madison)

You will gain exposure to patients who have undergone transplantation (kidney, liver, pancreas and combined transplants) for 4 weeks during your PGY-3 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. You will gain an understanding of the complex issues surrounding the post-operative and intra-operative care of this challenging patient population under the direction of the attending surgeon. Housing in Madison, Wis., for this required external rotation is provided by Gundersen free of charge. 

Trauma & Emergency Care (ER)

You will work alongside emergency room physicians in the triage, evaluation and management of patients with a variety of medical and surgical conditions. The rotation focuses on procedures, evaluation of non-surgical abdominal pain, initial trauma resuscitation and evaluating other medical/surgical conditions. 


You will work with board-certified urologists to diagnose and treat urological conditions and understand how urology works with other specialties. 

Elective opportunities


Here is your opportunity to serve diverse populations where surgical needs are robust. Rotate through a variety of international locations, including Cameroon, Kenya, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Nicaragua with different service organizations. You can also opportunities to work with Indian Health Services in Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Orthopedic Surgery  

Work alongside our orthopedic surgeons to learn pre/post-operative care of orthopedic patients in the hospital and clinic while also assisting in surgery. Other experiences include managing fracture cases and non-traumatic conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. 

Plastic Surgery

You will work alongside our plastic surgeons to gain experience with a variety of plastic reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries, including exposure to Moh's surgery. 

Rural Surgery

Work with Gundersen regional surgeons to provide rural surgical care to a broad patient population. Learn how cesarean sections, endoscopies (screening, therapeutic and diagnostic), gynecologic and broad-spectrum general surgical procedures are accomplished in rural settings without the typical resources present within our primary site. 

building autonomy

Chief surgery resident service

Our chief resident service—a “junior attending” rotation—allows you to build autonomy and transition to your ultimate practice. Under our attending surgeons, you will be responsible for your own office, operating room and endoscopy schedule, call responsibilities and administrative tasks. 

Surgery conferences

In addition to your rotation schedule, you will attend weekly and monthly surgery conferences. You are also encouraged to attend as many of the daily conferences at the medical center involving other specialties, as your schedule permits.


Basic Science Lecture  

Dissection Lab (cadaver) 

Clinical Science Conference 

Journal Club 

Morbidity/Mortality Conference           

Medical Ethics Conference                   

Breast Cancer Conference 

Trauma Conference 

Gastrointestinal Tumor Board 

Surgical Skills Lab Training             

Vascular Conference 

Grand Rounds 

Comprehensive training

Vast operative experience

Throughout our 5-year program, General Surgery residents perform more than 1,100 operations on average, including 350 major procedures during PGY-5. This includes minimally invasive operations such as laparoscopy, endoscopy, robotics and endovascular procedures. 

See breakdown of surgical procedures

Why Gundersen

Aerial view of la crosse, wisconsin.

Call La Crosse Home

We have it all in La Crosse, Wis. Our vibrant city and region support your dream lifestyle with a welcoming community, culture and outdoor adventure.

Explore La Crosse
Single family home near Gundersen's campus.


Steps from our flagship medical center in La Crosse, our housing options allow you to enjoy the company of your family and the comradery of your colleagues.

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Residents kayaking the Kickapoo river.

Prioritizing Your Wellness

As you learn how to become the clinician you aspire to be, we’ll provide space to prioritize your mind and body wellness, and reach the work-life balance you need.

Wellness opportunities
Contact our team

We’re here to answer your questions. 

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1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

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