The General Surgery Residency creates a community and safe-space among residents to help them grow into the surgeons they work to become. Program faculty and residents meet for various events throughout the year, such as the Intern Welcome Picnic, Chief Residents Dinner, and a yearly retreat. Below are some of the General Surgery Residency Program events throughout the years.

Intern Welcome Picnic

In July of each year, the Department of Surgery hosts a “Picnic in the Park” to introduce and welcome the new interns and their families. All interns are excused from clinical duties and are invited to gather for food, drink, entertainment and the annual softball game held between the residents and the faculty. The picnic is a unique opportunity for the newest members of the department and their families to get acquainted with the rest of the department.

2019 Welcome Picnic

Chief Residents Dinner

2019 Chief Residents Dinner

Top Gun Competition

General surgery residents at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are shown competing in the annual Top Gun laparoscopic skills competition at Washington University School of Medicine.

They then go on to compete on the national level at the annual meeting of SAGES – The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons – in Nashville, Tennessee.


Each year in the spring, the Department of Surgery holds a retreat where residents meet to discuss how to improve the residency. All residents are relieved of clinical duties while fellows or attendings cover the services.

The 2017 Resident Retreat began with a lecture about the future of the U.S. Supreme Court followed by break-out sessions by PGY level, on to team-building exercises, and a conclusion of morning activities with a guest presenter sharing insights into the role of an 18th century barber surgeon. After lunch, the residents went off campus, as they have done in years past – this time, racing cars indoors and competing for prizes. In past years, the residents have visited Mastermind Escape Room, City Museum to see a circus and to do circus tricks, Chesterfield Sports Fusion for laser tag, and Hidden Valley Ski Resort for snow-tubing.

Resident retreat

2017 Retreat: Indoor Car Racing

2016 Retreat: Mastermind Escape Room

2015 Retreat: St. Louis Art Museum

Wins in Surgical Jeopardy

Moderator Mark Bowyer, MD, FACS, awards a plaque to Washington University general surgery residents Paul Evans, MD, left, and Joshua Sommovilla, MD, winners of the 2014 Surgical Jeopardy contest.
Moderator Mark Bowyer, MD, FACS, awards a plaque to Washington University general surgery residents Paul Evans, MD, left, and Joshua Sommovilla, MD, winners of the 2014 Surgical Jeopardy contest.

Washington University surgical residents compete in the Surgical Jeopardy contest held at the Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) each year.

Washington University general surgery residents have twice won ACS Surgical Jeopardy. Most recently, then fifth-year surgery resident Paul Evans, MD, PhD, and lab resident Joshua Sommovilla, MD, competed against teams from 23 other residency programs in the contest, held at the ACS Clinical Congress in San Francisco in October 2014. The game is modeled after the Jeopardy television show and tests the general and specialty surgery knowledge of residents. The questions are wide-ranging and challenging – for example, showing a video of an operation and asking what operation is being shown – and winnows the number of teams down through several rounds. In 2012, Washington University general surgery residents also won the national competition at the ACS Clinical Congress held in Chicago.

The residency program chose Dr. Evans and Dr. Sommovilla to participate because they had the two highest scores in the Washington University General Surgery Residency on the American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination (ABSITE).

“It’s a little stressful because it’s hard to know what the categories are going to be and what they are going to ask you,” said Dr. Evans. “Collectively, we seemed to know the answers to a lot of questions. Like the TV game, there was also a lot of strategy involved.”

Ultimately, their wagering strategy helped Dr. Evans and Dr. Sommovilla to overcome the three other teams in “Final Jeopardy” in the championship round, outscoring all other teams in the competition by more than 8,700 points.

General Surgery After Hours Review

Surgery faculty members across all of the various specialties sponsor an “After Hours” education session. Each session is open to all residents at any level. This provides an opportunity for a small-group format focusing on specific topics in general surgery. The faculty member sponsoring the session decides on the topic and format, ranging from handling consults, understanding diagnostic workups, and treatment of modalities for various surgical issues to “mock oral boards” practice sessions where faculty members from one of the sections act as oral board examiners. All of the sessions are informal and held in the evenings at the faculty member’s home where dinner is provided. These sessions have allowed the residents to interact with faculty in small groups in a setting that provides additional didactic training outside of the 80-hour work week.

Eagon After Hours