Ask the Residents Education

Ask The Residents: Advice from Attendings

Residents in the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are part of an academic program with diverse surgical training, strong research opportunities and mentors who are national leaders in their fields.

With residency programs in General SurgeryPlastic SurgeryUrology and Vascular Surgery, residents in every specialty have access to world-class training. What makes each of these programs truly special is the community and camaraderie.

Residents in the Department of Surgery receive the highest level of support and training during their time in our residency programs. The expertise and advice provided by our attending physicians and surgeons are also integral to the development of our residents.

We asked those in the General Surgery Residency about the best advice they received from attendings during their time at Washington University. These testimonies reveal not just the supportive nature of our resident-attending relationship, but the vision and dedication to excellent medicine held by all of our physicians.

About Learning

Dr. Michael K. Pasque

William Chapman Jr., MD, MPHS: When applying to residency: “Follow the cranes.” Meaning go to a program that is growing. This demonstrates vitality as well as active influx of patients and resources that make the clinical experience rich.

Hailey Shepherd, MD: “Always ask. Your goal is filling those educational “black holes” of knowledge gaps while you’re still in training. Because those “black holes” are like heat-seeking missiles, and sooner or later, they will find you.” – Dr. Michael K. Pasque

Ioana Florea, MD: Always be proactive in seeking out actionable feedback on how to advance your skills and performance. It might feel good and reassuring to just be told that you are doing well – and you are! – but the only way you actually become better, much less become great, is if someone makes you aware of what you are doing less well, even the nuances.

Dr. Rebecca Aft

About Goals and Growth

Liu Zhiyi, MD: When I struggled with my language barrier in my internship, Dr. Aft told me “Don’t go with it, work on it to improve yourself.” She also suggested other things I could work on to excel. I benefit a lot from her advice.

Bradley Krasnick, MD: Under-commit and over-deliver.

About Surgical Technique

Keenan Robbins, MD: The key to surgery is that you have to remember everything.

Steven Tohmasi, MD: Surgery is a sport where the performance of your non-dominant hand is just as important as that of your dominant hand.

Jason Gauthier, MD: “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast” – Dr. Michael K. Pasque

Dr. Steven Strasberg

About the Patient

Heidy Cos, MD: “Always take care of the patients first, they are the most important reason why we’re here.” – Dr. Steven Strasberg

Forrest Williard, MD: Try to learn one thing from every patient that you interact with, and write it all down.

About Yourself

Wahid Abu-Amer, MD: Be yourself and be as polite as you can be but remember that you can’t make everyone happy. As long as you’re doing right by the patient, everything will be okay.

Robert MacGregor, MD: I remember being encouraged by one faculty member who told me “Don’t try to be someone who you are not or who others believe you should be. Leaders in surgery come in all forms and personalities. Just be yourself and be confident that is enough.”

Britta Han, MD: Know who you are, what your values are, and what is right for the patient – everything else is noise.

Annie Hess, MD: It’s okay to change your mind. So many times, you think you have it figured out, but as you grow, you will change your mind.

Excellent Advice and Performance in the Division of Surgery

Residents and attendings alike embrace the learning and growth process of the medical practice, aiming for high caliber surgical performance and patient care. To learn more about our physicians at the Department of Surgery, visit our Faculty page.