General Surgery

Welcome to the General Surgery Program

From the Program Director

Welcome to the General Surgery Residency Program at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine! Our program is the only general surgery residency in the state of South Dakota and focuses on rural general surgery training. The program was started in 2014 with the vision of training competent, confident, and compassionate surgeons. The mission of our program is to train general (and specialty) surgeons who provide excellent surgical care to patients in rural parts of the country.

The concepts of graded and progressive responsibility under the guidance and supervision of faculty members, along with a focus on lifelong learning, are the core tenets of our program. We have surgery residents from varied backgrounds and from multiple medical schools across the United States. The distinctive healthcare characteristics of the Dakota region give our residents a strong foundation and offer great opportunities to pursue a career in community-based general surgery in a rural health setting.

The faculty at USD SSOM/Sanford Health were trained at both community-based programs and academic centers from across the United States. I am a Renal Transplant and HPB Surgeon and I take Acute Care Surgery/Trauma calls as well. The size of our program (four categorical residents per year) and the absence of surgical fellowship programs allow one-on-one interaction with faculty with early operative experience in high volumes to all residents.

Residents spend 54 months of their training, including the majority of subspecialty rotations, at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD. In addition, residents rotate through Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton for their rural experience for four months (two months each as a PGY-2 and PGY-3); the Sioux Falls Veterans Affairs Health Care System for two months (one month each as a PGY-1 and PGY-2). Our senior residents travel overseas on medical mission trips to Honduras, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic.

All residents are involved in patient safety/quality improvement projects as well as serve on various QI committees during their residency. Residents are expected to complete at least two research projects during their residency, present their findings at regional/national conferences and publish the data in a peer-reviewed journal.

We have 100% board pass rate both in Qualifying Exams (QE) and Certifying Exams (CE) over the past three years. Our program has no citations from ACGME and has received commendation from RRC-Surgery for our outstanding training environment, overall resident performance, and faculty participation.

During the pandemic crisis, I was proud to see how our residents adapted to the needs of our patients and stepped up to help them in any way they can. As a program director, it was truly a humbling experience for me to witness the positive changes and the leadership qualities our residents brought to work every day.

Please enjoy exploring our program’s website, where you will find additional information on our clinical rotations, conference schedule, benefits, and materials on living in Sioux Falls. We hope to see you virtually during the interview “trail” and get to know you better as you get to know our program.

Thav Thambi-Pillai, MD MBA CPE FICS FACS

Professor and Vice Chair

General Surgery Residency Program Director