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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Department of Surgery

Surgical Residency Program

Our Program Staff

Program Director: Lisa Dresner, M.D., FACS

Associate Program Director: Alexander Schwartzman, M.D., FACS, MBA

Associate Program Director: Shalini Arora, M.D., FACS

Associate Program Director: Sreedhar Kallakuri, M.D., FACS

Associate Program Director: Henry Talus, M.D., FRCS (EDIN)

Associate Program Director: Loren J. Harris, M.D.,

Surgery Residency Program Manager: Natasha Sagal, MS, MSA

Surgery Residency Program Administrator: Lindsay Holmes 


About Program

The Residency Program at Downstate is approved by the Residency Review Committee in Surgery to graduate eight residents each year. The program has no pyramid. Rotations currently take place at the following locations :

  • University Hospital of Brooklyn
  • Coney Island Hospital (HHC)
  • Kings County Hospital (HHC)
  • NY-Harbor VA Medical Center- Brooklyn Campus
  • Richmond University Medical Center
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering

Mission Statement

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is dedicated to providing outstanding education of physicians, scientists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Our mission is to care for and improve the lives of our globally diverse communities, and to foster an environment that embraces cultural diversity.

Our vision reflects our goal to be nationally recognized for improving people’s lives by providing an excellent education for healthcare professionals, advancing research in biomedical science, health care, and public health, while delivering the highest quality patient-centered care. The Surgery Program's goals are to train surgeons within this framework.

Our goal is that they are ready to be the safe, highly effective, ethical and well-educated surgeons who are ready for independent practice and meet their career goals ready to provide equitable surgical care to these diverse communities.

The mission of the surgical residency program is to prepare our residents to function as culturally competent practitioners of surgery with the advanced level of performance expected of a board-certified specialist. We expect to train residents who are interested in practicing in an urban setting. Our mission is to train a diverse resident group, representative of the population of Brooklyn, to grow the diversity in the community of practicing academically accomplished general surgeons practicing in urban America.

The Surgical Residency Program aims to prepare the resident to function as a culturally competent practitioner of surgery at the advanced level of performance expected of a board-certified specialist in an urban setting.

The education encompasses both didactic instruction in the basic and clinical sciences of surgical diseases and conditions, as well as training in procedural skills and operative techniques. The educational process will lead to the acquisition of an appropriate fund of knowledge and technical skills, the ability to integrate the acquired knowledge into the clinical situation, and the development of surgical judgment, as well as awareness of disparities of care. We aim to train surgeons who can use inquiry to improve care for the populations they serve.

Diversity in trainee recruitment, selection, and retention

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University serves an ethnically diverse patient population. The SUNY Downstate Office of Diversity Inclusion and Research plays an essential role in the recruitment of underrepresented minorities in medicine on our campus. These efforts include pipeline programs, which target STEM exposure to students of historically underrepresented backgrounds, including BRIDGES to Medicine Program (BRIDGES); Summer Program in Translational Disparities and Community-Engaged Research (SPRINTER); Early Medical Education Program; Exploring Health Careers; and the H-PREP Daniel Hale Williams Society. In addition, our campus sponsors the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, whose mission is to engage with our community partners to advocate for health equity.

A focus of the SUNY Downstate research mission is to investigate and create solutions addressing health disparities. The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center is a collaboration with our academic center, community partners, and local policy officials to create evidence-based strategies to reduce health disparities in Brooklyn.

Our program reviews resident applications holistically, picture blind, to assure that implicit biases are minimized. We look especially for applicants who come from the immigrant communities we serve, regardless of where in the US they are educated. We participate in activities to recruit residents from our graduating class, including providing speakers to the Daniel Hale Williams Society. We provide mentorship to all residents, both formally and informally.

This academic year we created a mentoring - house system within our residency to provide academic and social camaraderie that was impacted by our transition to remote didactics. We have created a faculty committee on Diversity and Inclusion with the goal of encouraging diversity in trainee and faculty recruitment, selection, and retention.

We are also encouraging residents to join the Association of Academic Black Surgeons. We have at least annually a lecture dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments, contributions to the community in Central Brooklyn as well as maintaining the institutional memory of Samuel L Koontz, MD, a former chair of our department as well as a pioneer Transplant surgeon.

Diversity in the individuals participating in the training program

For our faculty and staff, Downstate too is committed to building a community that explicitly recognizes the value of human diversity. We strive to ensure that our workforce reflects the population we serve and that our leadership mirrors our workforce.

We aim to constantly demonstrate our inherent, unwavering value of and respect for the rich spectrum of human differences in actual or perceived race, color, religion, creed, age, sex, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, culture, language, socioeconomic status, marital status, partnership status, familial status, caregiver status, parental status, domestic violence victim status, military status, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, gender non-conformance or transgender status, physical or mental disability or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or city law.

We believe that by creating a diverse, respectful, and inclusive work environment we can develop the best trainees. In addition to the institutional work on inclusivity in recruitment and selection committees structure; development of policies and procedures to ensure our values of inclusivity and respect are known, followed, and upheld; promoting a welcoming climate of diversity and inclusion as represented in institutional cultural events and program social events; implementing educational programs that provide skills in cross-cultural communication and cultural sensitivity skills to enable effective communication and interaction with an increasingly global and multi-ethnic population, we are also: looking at increasing mentoring and sponsorship activities between senior and junior faculty members, direct outreach to candidates from underrepresented groups, advertising faculty/staff vacancies more broadly.

We require both faculty and residents to participate in the AMA-GME Competency Education Program that includes mandatory completion of modules including Cultural Competency, Managing unconscious Bias, Resident intimidation, Working effectively within an inter professional team, and Teamwork and Communications.

We encourage resident participation and research in diversity. A research resident has published about her experience as an immigrant and published a manuscript in the American Journal of Surgery Title: Mentorship of Underrepresented Minorities and Women in Surgery. This year, we chose an educational theme of "Professionalism" for the academic year with a Grand Rounds talk in July that was presented by Teresa Smith, MD the Designated Institutional Officer. Additional Grand Rounds around that theme are planned. Over the past several academic years, we have several symposia addressing the topic of disparities of care and have planned one for early in 2021.

Requirement's for Categorical and Preliminary Applicants

The categorical residency in general surgery is a 5-year program.

We are approved for eight (8) Residents.

Applications are through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

Since 1999 all applications are only accepted through the: ELECTRONIC RESIDENCY APPLICATION SERVICE (ERAS).

Our requirements for application include:

  • A Medical School Transcript
  • USMLE (ECFMG) scores
  • Dean's Letter
  • Personal Statement
  • C.V.
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Interview

Potential applicants must be graduates of either of the following:

  • An LCME accredited medical school in the USA or Canada or
  • Graduates of an American Osteopathic Association accredited school of Osteopathy or
  • International Medical Graduates with a valid certificate from the ECFMG or have a full and unrestricted license to practice in a US licensing jurisdiction, or
  • Graduates of an LCME approved 5th Pathway Program


Please click here for instructions on training verifications.