Plastic Surgery Integrated Residency

Plastic Surgery Residency Header 
The Spectrum Health/Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Integrated Plastic Surgery Residency program offers an environment of collegiality with rigorous academic pursuit and a demand for excellence of all our residents. We believe the best way to learn plastic surgery during your six year training is through a combination of early and extensive operative experience coupled with a robust didactic curriculum. Our emphasis on research, both clinical and basic science, fosters a unique environment of inquiry and results in residents and faculty producing numerous publications of articles, chapters and books despite our community based training model. Residents get the best of both worlds, an academic environment in a community setting. 


The Spectrum Health/Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Integrated Plastic Surgery Residency program  trains residents in a variety of subspecialties, including hand surgery, microsurgery, trauma, burns and pediatric plastic surgery. In addition to these inpatient responsibilities, residents rotate at office-based, accredited private surgical centers that provide ambulatory and cosmetic surgery training. Our residents routinely graduate with over 2,000 procedures as primary surgeons and often have some of the highest number of surgical procedures of any residency nationwide in breast surgery, body contouring, cosmetic surgery and hand surgery. In addition, the private ambulatory surgical experience exposes residents to the private practice model and thus adds unique training in the business of plastic surgery, helping them eventually navigate the real world of plastic surgery practice. Our mission is to educate and train qualified plastic surgeons who possess sound fundamental knowledge of anatomy and surgery, are competent, ethical and efficient plastic surgeons who are prepared to become certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This approach has resulted in a 100 percent board pass rate among our graduates.
Residents in our program work in efficient hospital systems, thus minimizing service needs and maximizing resident education. This system, along with our extensive didactic program has resulted in outstanding plastic surgery in-service exam scores and 100 percent board pass rates. Given this track record of academic excellence along with extensive operative experience, our residents routinely secure exceptional post-graduate fellowship positions in hand surgery, cosmetic surgery, craniofacial surgery and microsurgery at some of the most prestigious institutions in the United States and Canada. Our residents excel in these fellowship positions demonstrating the effectiveness of our curriculum, our training model, and their early and extensive operative experience.  


Plastic surgery training in Grand Rapids, Michigan has a long and storied history, beginning in 1920 when Ferris Smith trained his first registrar, Patrick Mulligan, MD. Many of the early giants of plastic surgery training in Grand Rapids using the preceptorship model under Dr. Smith and his protege and eventual partner, Wallace Steffensen, MD. The first formal plastic surgery residency program was started by Dr. Ralph Blocksma in 1964. This program continues today as a six-year integrated plastic surgery residency. Dr. Blocksma's first resident, Samuel Noordhoff went on to be one of the founders of Chang Gung Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. It would become one of the largest plastic surgery units in the world with Dr. Noordhoff instrumental in the training of multiple generations of Taiwanese plastic surgeons and in the development of their world-renowned microsurgical unit. 
Graduates of our program have been honored with multiple leadership positions in plastic surgery. Ferris Smith was a founding member of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS) and the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Clarence Straatsma was a founding member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the Plastic Surgery Foundation and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Six of our trainees have been president of the ASPS (Clarence Straatsma, Wallace Steffensen, Reed Dingman, Mark Gorney, James T. Wells and Fred McCoy). Dr. Smith was president of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons and two graduates have been presidents of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgery (Samuel Noordhoff and Wallace Steffensen). In addition, five graduates have received Special Achievement awards from ASPS (Smith, James T. Mills, Clarence Straatsma, Reed Dingman and Wallace Steffensen) and two have received Special Achievement awards from ASPS (Mark Gorney and Ralph Blocksma). 
The history of excellence, leadership and innovation continues today in our recent graduates and our faculty. Dr. Dennis Hammond is a world-renowned educator and thought leader in breast surgery and inventor of the SPAIR short-scar reduction mammoplasty techniques. Drs. Robert Mann and David Fisher are known for their innovative ground-breaking work with cleft lip and palate repair; Dr. John Polley is known for his work with craniofacial distraction osteogenesis and monobloc advancement in severe craniofacial anomalies; and Dr. Joseph Hunstad is one of the pioneers in the development and use of the tumescent technique in liposuction and body contouring. 
We are proud of our history and our heritage of excellence in plastic surgery training. Grand Rapids has been and continues to be one of the leading centers in the country for plastic surgery training and innovation. 

Innovate. Inspire. Impact.

 Additionally, we are proud of the relationships our physicians have built with patients and families. Through inspiring stories, Health Beat provides an editorial platform to bring patients and physicians together, sharing information on innovative care and personal journeys. Read about our innovative care and the brave families who inspire us.

Unstoppable: The inspiring journey of Kiden Kee


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Residents at the PGY-4 level participate in and teach an 8-week course in Plastic Surgery Anatomy. This course includes cadaveric dissections that are related to common procedures performed in Plastic Surgery, including fasciocutaneous and muscle flaps, head and neck dissections, hand and wrist dissections, cosmetic procedures, as well as trunk and lower extremity flaps and dissections. The PGY-4 residents complete the dissections overseen by a faculty mentor and then present their prosections to the plastic surgery section. This course solidifies and improves their anatomical knowledge.
All residents participate in microsurgical skills labs at the PGY-1 level. Throughout the academic year, there are numerous microsurgical animal lab practice sessions with upper-level residents and faculty teaching and assisting lower-level residents. During the PGY-4 year, a one-week, intense micorsurgical course is taught by fellowship-trained microsurgeon faculty. Residents are free from all clinical responsibilities so as to maximize their training experience. This course and the practice sessions allow for early and exceptional microsurgical skills to optimize patient care.
Multiple skills labs are given through each academic year and include nerve dissection and repair, wrist kinematics and reconstruction, facial fracture reconstruction, and upper extremity splinting labs. These skills and simulation labs help to expand resident technique translating directly to the operating room and the wards. 
With our emphasis on research, many of our residents graduate with multiple publications, including peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. We feel it is important to reward residents for their work, thus all travel expenses are covered for presentations of original research at local, state, national, and international meetings. To assist in your research, we have an efficient and robust research department with institutional and foundation funding options available.  
A very unique component of our training involves participation in our resident-run academic trauma and cosmetic service. This service was built to give residents unsurpassed autonomy and hands-on training in running their own practice. Residents at the PGY-5 and 6 PGY-6 levels rotate on the service three months per year. With the oversight of a faculty mentor, the academic chief resident manages and maintains all inpatient and outpatient, clinic-based consults for the Plastic Surgery Service at Spectrum Health. This resident-run service cares for a diverse patient mix with strong emphasis on complex facial trauma, lower extremity and trunk reconstruction, body contouring, breast surgery, and upper extremity conditions. The resident, along with the faculty mentor run an office-based clinic for one and a half days each week. Although there is faculty supervision at all times, residents assume and guide the care of all patients, including operative plans, booking cases, and postoperative care. We feel this model maximizes resident autonomy, maintains continuity of care, develops key patient management skills, and builds practice management experience. This is truly a resident-run academic practice, unlike any in the country, and prepares our residents for practice in the real world.  

Program Focus
Plastic Surgery Integrated Curriculum (13 four-week blocks)
  • Plastic surgery–two blocks–one block
  • Plastic surgery/hand surgery–one block
  • Trauma–one block
  • Surgical critical care–one block
  • Anesthesia–one block
  • Emergency medicine–one block
  • Surgical oncology–one block
  • Orthopaedic surgery/trauma–one block
  • General surgery–three blocks
  • Plastic surgery–two blocks
  • Plastic surgery/hand surgery–one block
  • Pediatric plastic surgery–one block
  • Plastic surgery/research–one block
  • Burn–two blocks
  • Breast surgery–one block
  • Trauma–one block
  • Surgical critical care–two blocks
  • General surgery–two blocks
  • Plastic surgery–three blocks
  • Hand surgery–two blocks
  • Pediatric plastic surgery–one block
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery–one block
  • Oculoplastics–one block
  • Surgical dermatology–one block
  • Pediatric surgery–one block
  • Vascular surgery–one block
  • Transplant–one block
  • ENT–one block
  • Core/cosmetic plastic surgery–four blocks
  • Hand surgery–four blocks
  • Pediatric plastic surgery–two blocks
  • Breast surgery–two blocks
  • Plastic surgery/research–one block
  • Core/cosmetic plastic surgery–five blocks
  • Hand surgery–two blocks
  • Breast surgery–two blocks
  • Pediatric plastic surgery–one block
  • Academic/Trauma plastic surgery–three blocks
  • Advanced core/cosmetic plastic surgery–five blocks
  • Advanced pediatric plastic surgery–one block
  • Advanced hand surgery–two blocks
  • Advanced breast surgery–one block
  • Academic/Trauma plastic surgery–three blocks
  • Elective–one block
Average five hours per week of protected time for high quality educational curriculum and include:
  • Weekly basic science covering selected readings in plastic surgery, Grabb & Smith, Neligan’s Plastic Surgery, as well as Flaps and Syndromes
  • Weekly faculty teaching conferences, oral board review format
  • Weekly hand surgery conferences with chapter review of Trumble Principles of Hand Surgery and Therapy, and Green’s Operative Hand Surgery
  • Weekly plastic surgery grand rounds; follows a three-year curriculum and includes monthly morbidity & mortality review
  • Weekly faculty-directed walk rounds
  • Monthly journal club graciously hosted in faculty homes or offices, includes critical appraisal of current plastic surgery literature through an evidence-based medicine approach, as well as interesting case review
Grand Rapids has an escape room downtown in one of their old masonic temples. The plastic surgery residents formed two teams and we were able to put our heads together to solve the puzzles and escape from both rooms in under an hour.
Megan Dietze-Fiedler and Elizabeth Lucich enjoying Dr. Hammond’s “Lecture on the Lake.” Dr. Hammond, a world renowned breast surgeon, invited the residents out to his cottage on Sand Lake for grilled burgers, a beautiful sunset, and an educational lecture.
The residents have an annual retreat to relax and enjoy laughs together. In 2018, the retreat was in Manistee, MI. We visited a local brewery that included a behind the scenes tour and samples. After the brewery tour, the residents went camping at Orchard Beach State Park, enjoying a beautiful sunset on Lake Michigan, bonding around the campfire and s’mores.
Mr. Spartan (aka Matt Braza), Rachel Macias, Josh Kelley and Matt Fahrenkopf, some of our fittest residents, after successfully completing a Spartan race.
Learn more about us here.
Many of our alumni have moved on to sub-specialty fellowship training, see where they've gone
Spectrum Health provides a comprehensive and very competitive benefits package for our residents, staff and their families. In addition, our program provides educational monies to support your ongoing education. Download our salary and benefits document to learn more.
All applications are accepted through the Electronic Residency Application Service. For application information, contact program coordinator, Sue Hartert by email or at 616.391.1909.
All visiting medical student applications must be submitted through the Visiting Student Learning Opportunities program (formerly known as VSAS). For more information on visiting medical student opportunities, please visit our Visiting Learner page.

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