General surgery is a discipline that requires knowledge of and familiarity with a broad spectrum of diseases that may require surgical treatment. By necessity, the breadth and depth of this knowledge will vary by disease category. In most areas, the surgeon will be expected to be competent in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of disease.

General surgery as a field comprises, but is not limited to, the performance of operations. Also needed are:

  • Technical proficiency in the performance of essential operations/procedures plus knowledge, familiarity, and in some cases proficiency with more uncommon and complex operations in each of the above areas.
  • Clinical knowledge including: epidemiology, anatomy, physiology, clinical presentation, and pathology (including neoplasia).
  • Knowledge of scientific foundations including: wound healing; infection; fluid management; shock and resuscitation; immunology; antibiotic usage; metabolism; and use of enteral and parenteral nutrition.
  • Experience and skill in the following areas: clinical evaluation and management, or stabilization and referral, of patients with surgical diseases; management of preoperative, operative and postoperative care; management of comorbidities and complications; and knowledge of appropriate use and interpretation of radiologic and other diagnostic imaging.

The certified general surgeon is also expected to have knowledge and skills in the management and team-based interdisciplinary care of the following specific patient groups:

  • Terminally ill patients, to include palliative care and the management of pain, weight loss, and cachexia in patients with malignant and chronic conditions.
  • Morbidly obese patients, to include metabolic derangements, weight-loss surgery, and the counseling of patients and families.
  • Geriatric surgical patients, to include operative and nonoperative care, management of comorbid chronic diseases, and the counseling of patients and families.
  • Culturally diverse groups of patients.

This information was adapted from the American Board of Surgery website.


  • Length of training: 5 years
  • Match: NRMP
  • Application service: ERAS

Ohio State Department of Surgery

  • Department Chair: Timothy Pawlik, MD, MPH, PhD
  • Residency Director: Mark Arnold, MD
  • Residency Coordinator: Elizabeth Hanson, 614-293-8704
  • Education Director: Alan Harzman, MD
  • Education Program Coordinator: Alissa MacAdam, 614-293-9751
  • Part 2 Unit Director, Surgery: Sherif Abdel-Misih, MD
  • Part 2 Associate Director: Ben Nwomeh, MD
  • Course Director for Senior Surgical Students: David Lindsey, MD

Learn more about the Department of Surgery

Specialty Champions

  • Sherif Abdel-Misih, MD (Surgical Oncology)
  • Ginny L. Bumgardner, MD, PhD
  • Hosam El Sayed, MD
  • Alan Harzman, MD
  • David Lindsey, MD
  • Susan Moffatt-Bruce, MD
  • Amber Traugott, MD
  • Tom Williams, MD (Integrated Thoracic Surgery)
  • Patrick Vaccaro, MD (Integrated Thoracic Surgery)


AAMC Careers in Medicine: Surgery

American College of Surgeons

Booklet of Information: Surgery Information from the American Board of Surgery