Best Colleges for Surgeons: List of Top Medical Schools

Jan 02, 2019

Surgical programs at the country's top medical schools prepare students for careers as general surgeons or as surgeons in specialized fields. Learn the rankings, program details and other facts about some of the nation's leading colleges for surgeons.

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  • 0:03 School Overviews
  • 0:45 Johns Hopkins University
  • 1:50 Columbia University
  • 2:47 Emory University
  • 3:33 Top Surgical Programs

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School Overviews

Training for aspiring surgeons begins in medical school and there are a number of highly-ranked programs from which to choose. These programs offer students the opportunity to specialize and participate in research. Three of the best places to pursue surgical training in the U.S. are Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Emory University. Each of these schools offers four years of medical education and clerkship as well as postgraduate residencies and fellowships. Students can seek training in several surgical specialties at these universities, and they were each ranked among the best medical schools by U.S. News and World Report in 2016.

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD

School Highlight: Johns Hopkins University was ranked as the school with the second best internal medicine program in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

The Johns Hopkins University General Surgery Training Program accepts only seven applicants each year. The first two years in the program are part of the Preliminary Surgery Program. Individuals in this program receive several years of research experience through the program. Beyond the four years of instruction, Johns Hopkins offers residency programs for postgraduate years three through five and fellowship rotations, which may include acute care, cardiothoracic, critical care, pediatric, plastic, transplantation, and vascular surgeries. Hospital rotations for clerkships, residency, and fellowships may be assigned to any of Johns Hopkins' affiliated hospitals or medical centers, such as the University of Maryland Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital, and Raymond M. Curtis Hand Rehabilitation Center, among others. The location depends upon the subspecialty assigned.

Columbia University in New York, NY

School Highlight: Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons ranks ninth on U.S. News & World Report's 2016 list of medical schools with the best internal medicine programs.

Students admitted into the surgical program may have the opportunity to research and study in many surgical specialties, including general surgery, various transplantation specialties, pediatric surgery, and specific organ fields. Students rotate among seven affiliated hospitals and medical centers, such as Harlem Hospital, Stamford Hospital, Dartmouth Medical Center, and Bassett Healthcare, a rural health center. Students can also gain experience working at Columbia University's teaching hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital. The M.D. program covers four years of study and practice, including a five-week clinical clerkship in surgery, with six available subspecialties. This occurs during the third year.

Emory University in Atlanta, GA

School Highlight: Emory University was ranked 23rd among the best medical schools for research and 28th among the best for primary care by U.S. News and World Report in 2016.

Surgery residency options at Emory University include pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, vascular surgery, and cardiothoracic surgery. Fellowships are offered in endosurgery, breast oncology, and transplantation. The school's general surgery residency program is unique in that it allows students to choose a research sabbatical instead of completing the usual five straight years of clinical training. Many residents also simultaneously pursue MBA, MPH, M.S., or Ph.D. degrees.

Top Surgical Programs

These medical schools also provide an excellent education for aspiring surgeons.

School Name Distinction Location
Harvard University Students can participate in surgical and anesthesia fellowships in Rwanda and Haiti Boston, MA
Northwestern University Students can practice their surgical and decision-making skills through the department's Center for Advanced Surgical Education Chicago, IL
University of Alabama - Birmingham Fellowship programs offered in orthopaedic, pediatric, and abdominal transplant surgery, as well as surgical research Birmingham, AL
University of California - Los Angeles Fellowship programs offered in multi-organ transplant, plastic, vascular, and cardiothoracic surgery Los Angeles, CA
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Is the only Level I trauma center in the state; the school's burn treatment center and bariatric surgery center are nationally recognized for high-quality care Iowa City, IA
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Surgical department has a center devoted to the study of minimally invasive surgery Dallas, TX
University of Washington Has a primary research center sponsored by the surgery department called the Surgical Outcomes Resource Center Seattle, WA
Vanderbilt University 4th-year surgical residents can do an international residency in general, pediatric, or pediatric neurosurgery at the Kijabe Hospital in Kenya Nashville, TN
Yale University Students can complete a surgical residency in cardiothoracic, dental, plastic, or otolaryngology surgery New Haven, CT

The medical schools at Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Emory universities offer some of the top surgical training programs in the United States. These programs include a variety of specialty, residency, and fellowship options for medical students.

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