Ask the Residents Education

Meet the Residents: Annie Hess and Robert MacGregor

Hess and MacGregor

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.

Annie Hess, MD, and Robert MacGregor, MD, are General Surgery residents at Washington University.

Annie Hess, MD
Robert MacGregor, MD

Dr. Hess is from Gastonia, NC and attended Georgia Institute of Technology for her undergraduate degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Her medical school training was completed at Tulane University School of Medicine.

From Woodbridge, VA, Dr. MacGregor received his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at University of Virginia. He attended Eastern Virginia Medical School for his graduate studies in medicine.

Why was WashU the best fit for you? 

AH: WashU was the perfect mix of strong academic program with lots of research opportunities that had a comforting, family feel.

RM: Wash U was the perfect fit for me for several reasons. First, it provides rigorous surgical training in a diverse number of surgical subspecialties, all of which have surgical faculty that are national and world leaders in their fields. Second, it gives unlimited access to incredible research opportunities, both established labs and research tracks you can create on your own. Third, and most importantly, I felt at home with both the faculty and residents and know I found a place that values personal well-being, family and relationships.

What makes WashU attendings special? Is there a memorable moment with a mentor you could share?

AH: WashU attendings are there for you as you progress in life. In a program that is 7 years long, you will have many major life moments. Having attendings who are also your friends support you in those moments, both at work and outside, has been such a positive.

RM: WashU attendings are extraordinary teachers both in and out of the operating room. They truly have a passion for education and provide effective feedback to ensure residents progress into surgical leaders. They also truly care about helping residents to find their passions and achieve their career goals.

What is a valuable piece of advice you’ve received from faculty? 

AH: 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.

RM: 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.

What do you like about research training at WashU (if applicable)?  Or what are your research interests?

AH: The sheer volume and variety of research. You can do anything you want to do. It’s a bit challenging to divide your time because there are so many opportunities, but it allows you to be a well-rounded surgeon scientists. I get to do surgical ethics and education research, while running multiple clinical trials looking at surgery, trauma and the immune system.

RM: I performed research in the Cardiothoracic surgery research lab under the direction of Dr. Ralph Damiano, Jr. My research experience was a fantastic experience and very productive. It provided a nice balance of autonomy and direction to allow me to develop skills as a surgeon scientist.

What do you like most about your fellow residents?

AH: Everyone is so outstanding in their own way, but no one is competitive. We want to lift each other up and support each other, in all interests.

RM: I truly appreciate the close relationships I have formed with some of my fellow residents. They are always very supportive and encouraging no matter what difficulties we have faced. Every resident cares about each other’s well-being and successes, and are always available to talk if needed for support.

What is your favorite resident team bonding/event/outing and why?

RM: My favorite outings are those in which several of our residents’ families and children meet up in one of St. Louis’s many parks or outdoor attractions. Forest Park, Tower Grove Park or STL Zoo are great places to catch up, chase our kids around and get fresh air on days off. It is nice to get the opportunity to talk outside of work in relaxed scenery!

What do you plan to do after graduation?

AH: I plan to pursue a fellowship – which one is yet to be determined – and stay in academic surgery with a research focus on education and ethics.

RM: I plan to pursue a fellowship in Minimally Invasive surgery.

What advice do you have for those applying for residency? 

AH: Find a place that fits not only where you are now in life, but where you might be in 5 years. You need a program that will grow with you, both professionally and personally. Figure out what is important to you, and don’t be afraid to ask programs for those things.

RM: Find a place that values personal health, family and friendships while giving you access to a diverse number of surgical subspecialties and research opportunities.

What is your favorite thing about living in St. Louis?

AH: There are so many fun and accessible things to do. You are able to buy a house, go to amazing parks and museums and have the most incredible food options (and so many breweries and cocktail spots).

RM: St. Louis is an incredibly affordable place to live and raise a family. The number of free activities you can do with your family are numerous, and everything is very easy to get to by driving.

What are your top 3 places to go in St. Louis?

AH: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Zoo and Tower Grove Farmer’s Market

RM: Forest Park (Zoo, Nature Playscape, golf courses), Augusta (rolling hills, wineries, etc.) and Ted Drewes

Is there anything about St. Louis that surprised you?

AH: You get a big city feel, with lots of things within walking distance, but it’s a lot easier than living in a crowded city.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

AH: Cooking, cocktail making and anything that gets me outside

RM: Spending time with family, running, hiking and golfing

What do you do to check in with yourself and ensure your wellness is a priority? 

RM: Being fit is very important to my physical and mental wellness. I try to make working out a priority when I can, which has become a little easier thanks to the addition of the fitness room provided by the WashU residency program. It contains two treadmills and a Peloton, as well as a few free weights that are readily accessible on campus!

Washington University Residencies

To learn more about residency programs at Washington University School of Medicine, visit For information about the General Surgery residency program, visit