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Advice for Medical Students

Andrew _Wisneski _photoAndrew Wisneski is a current 4th year medical student who is interested in applying to general surgery residency. He grew up in Morgan Hill, CA, a small town south of San Jose, and studied biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. During college, he played violin in the symphony orchestra, worked in a cardiac physiology laboratory, and spent a summer abroad in a research lab at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. During medical school, he has been involved with Surgery Interest Group and conducted research in the UCSF Cardiac Biomechanics Laboratory at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He participated in VALOR for his third year clerkships.


When should I make a decision by to go into surgery?

Preparing early on in medical school is always helpful, but the important thing is to seek out advice and guidance from UCSF surgery faculty members if you are considering surgery. They will be your best resources and advocates.

What can I do before clinical rotations that will help my residency application to surgery?

Research leading to publications will go a long way to help your application, and also enable you to build relationships with potential mentors. Additionally, other forms of service to the University or community will also reflect favorably on your application.

What should I do during 3rd and 4th years?

I would encourage everyone to try to excel and learn as much as possible during every clerkship, even the ones that are not so seemingly surgically related. It is important to demonstrate the ability to learn and function in different environments, and work well with a team no matter what field within medicine it is.

During the 4th year, a student interested in applying to surgery should arrange his or her schedule to have at least one surgery sub-internship early in the 4th year, and have several other surgery electives in the schedule as well. I did an ICU rotation early in my 4th year and found it very helpful prior to my surgery sub-internship.

How important is research when applying?

If you may be interested in pursuing an academic surgery residency, research is very important. Taking time in the first and second year to perform research, or taking a research year, can be extremely helpful in strengthening one’s application.

Any recommendations for books/websites to read?

For third year clerkships, Surgical Recall and Pestana’s Notes which were widely used amongst 3rd year medical students. I also found the “Q&A” on the AccessSurgery website helpful.

Dr. Jonathan Carter has helped put together a very comprehensive video collection of laparoscopic surgical cases for teaching purposes. (

The Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, considered a classic surgical text, is a great reference. Lange’s Current Surgical Diagnosis and Treatment: Surgery is also an excellent reference. Both these works feature chapters written by UCSF surgical faculty. Zollinger’s Atlas of Surgical Operations features nice step-by-step illustrations to help understand the anatomy encountered during operations (available on AccessSurgery).