WAH: Washington adventist hospital 

Surgery core


I have to preface that I did this rotation right before the big move to a brand new hospital. So although my experience will probably be similar to the future cohorts at the new hospital, there will be slight differences. In general, after my experience and hearing from uppers say the same, this is probably your best bet for a Surgery rotation that AUC offers! You work DIRECTLY with attendings daily (which is huge so its pretty easy to get those needed LOR’s) and will see a wide variety of Surgery. Dr. Plate is the Course Director and does a great job coordinating between the staff at WAH. What is also a plus is that AUC students are the only students at the hospital (there were 18 students for our cohort) and we got full access to the entire hospital, including the Surgeon’s lounge where you could chill and study etc. I definitely recommend this rotation as I learned so much and got to do some amazing things like intubate, suture, give botox injections, learn how to do a Foley and IV, help put a prototype knee replacement in on a TKA and more.

Oh also, this was my first rotation. Doing Surgery first in a core schedule could be daunting (I had no clue how a hospital/OR ran) but at WAH they really do a great job of making you feel comfortable from day 1 and the staff are always willing to answer q’s you will have.



So in general, you will have General Surgery for 4 weeks. For the rest of the rotation, you will have 2 week electives. The rotations are picked by Dr. Plate (WAH student coordinator) and is completely random. You can switch with other students to attain exposure in different aspects of surgery as you wish, as long as both students accept the trade. I will show you my schedule to give a little taste of what I’m talking about.


Weeks 1-2: Anesthesiology

Dr. Underwood and Dr. Moed are amazing human beings. This is one of the better teams that I have seen and you learn a lot. Hours were pretty consistent from 7am-5pm. They will give you this huge book of Anesthesia to read since there will be a lot of down time. Make sure to go over Pharmacology and a little bit of Phys before your first day. For instance, my first pt had a bp of 140/80 and was asked, “What is the Average BP here and why? (I froze for a couple seconds because I suck at math in my head and then remembered the heart takes more time in diastole, so take 1/3 of the PP and add it to the diastolic pressure)

Make sure to always offer to be at the head of the bed while moving the patient from room to room; basically offer to do the little things as they go a long way. Make sure you know where the Glyde-Scope is so if they run into issues during intubation you can run and get it quickly. It was a great rotation to have first because you do not scrub in and really learn how an OR works before actually being in the surgery.

Other topics you should be familiar in is Mallampati score, ASA classification system and Physiology of pregnancy.


If you get to be paired with Dr. Underwood, tell him you know me, he will go out of his way to make you feel comfortable if its your first rotation like it was mine! (and he writes amazing LOR’s sooo ;)


Week 3-4: Plastics

Dr. Corriveau is the lead here. You will see such a variety of things but he does a lot of ulcer treatment (yes, the dreaded sacral decub is inevitable in this rotation). Clinic will consist of botox injections, sclerotherapy, and suturing minor trauma. He doesn’t eat lunch and works the whole day through so come prepared with a lot of protein bars!


Week 5-6: Breast

Dr. Plate is amazing and is the Student Coordinator. These two weeks offer the most time off, so take advantage to study! Things commonly asked are the borders of the breast, most common benign breast tumor, risk factors for breast cancer, and tx for ductal vs lobular carcinoma.


Week 7-8: Ortho

Dr. Alam is the frikin’ man!! He’s such a great Doc and is consistently in the “DC top 100 of Physician’s list.” A typical day consists of clinic in the morning from 8am- noon and then have a surgery or two later in the evening. The only sucky thing is that he does a lot of his surgeries at private surgery centers where we cannot scrub in on….luckily enough he had a rare one at WAH that I was able to scrub in on a TKA and he let me do a lot. Hopefully you get scheduled with him or try to switch!!

Oh and if Dr. Alam has an off day, look out for Dr. Thompson in the OR. (If I remember right he does surgeries at WAH on Tuesdays) But he literally loves having students scrub in with him, so if you want to be exposed to Ortho, definitely hunt him down and don’t be afraid to ask him to scrub in! He will let you use some fun tools, sooo fun.


Week 9-12: General Sx

Dr. Selim is the busiest Doc in all of WAH. If you have him, prepare yourself by studying a little extra outside of these 4 weeks. You are going to have to put your hard hat/thick skin on because even though he means nothing personally, he will yell at you in the OR, especially the first time you learn to drive the scope in a LapChole. Best advice is to be present everyday, when he yells just say, “Yes Sir,” and hopefully you either love tennis or politics and you will get on his good side! 



  • 6am 1 x week (usually Wednesdays)

  • A variety of Sx topics such as Shock, Hernia, GallBladder, Liver, IBD, etc…

  • These are done by the residents….but we had to give an individual presentation the last week of our rotation



Honestly, I did not use the golden UWorld for this shelf at all. I wanted to save that for CK (and some money) so I went with AMBOSS and did fine on the shelf. I also highly recommend Divergillio’s Case Files and Surgery Recall for what you will be most commonly pimped in the OR. In surgery although you are at the hospital or in clinic for most of the day, there will be a lot of down time…don’t waste it!


Housing! So I was here for the summer and joined a facebook group page for students of the University of Maryland. There were a lot of students looking to sublease their room for really cheap that came with Wi-Fi and parking. My buddy and I actually stayed in the same complex at Terrapin Row which was only a 15-20 min drive!

Food: They have us access to the Physicians Lounge where we could get free breakfast and lunch

Good luck on your rotation,

Christian Pena 

Christian Pena