For departments of academic medicine and surgery, the educational mission of training future physicians and surgeons remains one of our primary responsibilities.
At the University of Pittsburgh, this residency tradition began in 1948. S. Milton Dupertius, MD, the first Division Chief and Program Director, recruited John C. Gaisford, MD, as Pitt’s first plastic surgery resident – at a salary of $34 a month. The following year, Ross H. Musgrave, MD, became Pitt’s second plastic surgery resident. These pioneers of the Pitt Plastic Surgery residency would lead the way of academic excellence, setting a precedence for what would become a tradition of training leaders in plastic surgery. Drs. Dupertius, White, and Musgrave would each serve as President of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; and, Dupertius, Musgrave, and Hanna all served as Directors of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Following this momentous beginning, Pitt Plastic Surgery has produced generations of leaders in our field. To date, there have been well over 300 residents and fellows trained at Pitt Plastic Surgery, and at last count, 22 alumni of Pitt’s residency program have served at one time as Chiefs/Chairpersons at one of the nation’s 139 plastic surgery programs.
Our mission remains one of cultivating and nurturing future leaders, surgeon-scientists, and those academic plastic surgeons that will become the next generation of Program Directors, Chairpersons, and Presidents of our national societies. Each year we seek to identify, recruit, and train those who demonstrate potential and passion for life-long learning and leadership in academic plastic surgery. Our goals being to have our trainees excel in the four domains that define the academic surgeon – surgical care and clinical excellence, administrative ability, education of trainees, and research and scientific inquiry. These efforts are supported by a program with an unparallel depth and breadth of clinical experience, combined with a large and diverse clinical faculty dedicated to optimizing the educational environment, and coupled with a departmental ethos that fosters self-motivation and learning while maintaining a respectful culture and sense of camaraderie.
Pursuant to this overarching goal, our program has a rich history of continual innovation in surgical education. In 2008, we were given approval by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to establish one of the first “categorical” plastic surgery training programs in the United States. This innovative program is similar to other integrated surgical residencies, uniquely designed and focused to specifically train and prepare plastic surgeons. As our goal is to produce surgeon-scientists, the curriculum includes an elective year of basic science research in one of our three independently funded laboratories. This spirit of educational innovation continues to drive the residency program today, as we spearhead an innovative move towards a competency-based plastic surgery educational program.
Today our residency program consists of both an Integrated and Independent training pathway, accredited for 24 full-time residents. Our citywide program benefits from a robust and engaged “town and gown” participation – consisting of 7 hospital sites, with 21 full-time clinical faculty, 7 research faculty, and 10 community faculty members. Our faculty currently edits 10 textbooks in plastic surgery. We offer fellowship training in hand surgery, pediatric plastic/craniofacial surgery, body contouring, and reconstructive microsurgery.
As one of the oldest and largest plastic surgery programs in the nation, we are incredibly proud of our legacy and to follow in the tradition of our founding fathers in carrying on the mission of training future leaders in plastic surgery.