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Preliminary Surgery Program for 'Still-In-Process' Residents

Some of our preliminary residents do not yet have a future categorical program home. During their 1 or 2 years in our program they will apply for categorical positions. Because of our strong national reputation for outstanding training and our world-class institution, we are proud to have a near 100% categorical placement rate for our non-designated preliminary residents. This track record does not come easily and the program works hard to maintain it and help each resident achieve their goals. Past residents have obtained categorical positions in the following specialties where they have been very successful: general surgery, anesthesiology, orthopedic surgery, radiology, otolaryngology, urology, neurosurgery, nuclear medicine, emergency medicine, radiation oncology, dermatology, pathology, psychiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and preventive medicine. About half of our non-designated preliminary residents stay in general surgery.

We have both 1-year and 2-year positions available. Depending on future interests, ERAS ranking for the 1-year and 2-year preliminary positions should be made after consulting with our Program Director, Dr. Karen Horvath, at the time of your interview. (This P-1 versus P-2 choice is available in ERAS after the "preliminary" option is selected.)

International medical graduates must successfully complete our Certificate Program to be considered for a preliminary position.


This is a one year position. It is a good option for residents who have strong applications but who may have decided late in the process to make a career switch. It is also a good option for residents who expect to reapply for categorical R1 positions through ERAS and the match. One of the downsides to a P-1 position is that you will only be in Seattle for about 2 months before getting your ERAS application together again. Program Directors are always more interested in letters of recommendation from your residency program to see how you've done in the trenches and it's not as easy to get letters that accurately reflect your best performance after just 2 months than it is after 14 months (with the P-2 position). However, the flipside is that it is only a one year commitment.


This is a two year position. It is a two year commitment. In our opinion it is the clearly the best option for those residents who plan to stay in General Surgery. In addition, some of our strongest non-designated preliminary residents who transitioned into advanced positions in Urology, Otolaryngology and Orthopedic Surgery were in the P-2 program. Regardless of where you might be headed, success is directly related to investment. Committing to two years in a program lets you sit back and relax during your internship and just concentrate on being the best resident you can be. You can get to know the other residents and faculty and experience Seattle. You can experience your life a little bit more prior to looking for a job again and you won't need to worry during your intern year about applications, letters, ERAS, looking for open positions, moving, interviewing, etc. You also participate in the R2 year with its intensive critical care and trauma experience so that by the time you move onto your next program you have gained experience and some maturity as a surgical resident and function at a much higher level in your new program. You have the opportunity to significantly strengthen your application. The second year also gives you additional flexibility: you can look for open spots at various levels. Finally, by the time the faculty writes your letters of recommendation, they know you well and can support you in a different and deeper way because you are a 'proven commodity'. This has been a very successful path for many residents.

Regardless of your choice for the P-1 or P-2 position, you will always be a part of our UW family! We believe it's our job to give you the best surgical education available and to help you be successful in your career. We work with you to get you to the next phase of your life, whether that is here at UW or somewhere else.

Comments from past graduates

"My path after medical school was to complete a 1 year surgical internship before serving several years as a GMO in the Navy, after which I would begin an orthopedic surgery residency. I chose to move cross county to Seattle from where I went to medical school in Philadelphia because of both UWMC's outstanding reputation as well as Harborview Medical Center's world renowned excellence in trauma care. I made a great decision. I was able to work a significant amount of time with several orthopedic surgeons and obtain strong letters of recommendation for my ortho application while getting a complete and broad education in surgical knowledge and technical skills."  LT Ryan Stancil, MD P1 UW Surgery, Lieutenant U.S. Navy
"My time at the University of Washington came with unexpected benefits. As a 2 year preliminary resident, I was allowed work with focus on how I was becoming a young doctor. It gave me opportunity to explore my field of interest in while building a strong foundation of technical and clinical skills. I was supported in pursuing the career of my choice, with residents and administrators assisting me with great flexibility throughout the interview process. Here in Seattle I got to ski throughout the winter, and in the summer hike the coast, the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascades, while living in a progressive and exciting city. But more than that it taught me how to care for others. It let me put patients first and work as part of a tremendously compassionate team. The energy and attitude of those around me, and the complexity of the care I was asked to provide, drove my development as a well-rounded young physician. It has taught me to think and develop my plans independently, while ensuring I am never without support when I need it. It's left a lasting imprint on the kind of person and doctor I am."  M. Florack, MD - P2 UW Surgery, Allegheny Hospital Orthopedic Surgery
"Thank you so very much for the opportunity to be one of your residents. When I received the call from you during SOAP/Scramble last year I was struck by how sincere you sounded about helping me pursue my dream – enough so that I moved literally across the country, despite being offered a General Surgery position in Miami, to be part of your program. I know now that my impressions were spot on and that you are a person who is true to your word. The support you have given me this past year has been amazing and I am truly grateful and proud to have been a UW Surgery intern. I have been able to take advantage of the superb education only possibly by doing a UW Surgery internship. The exposure I’ve had to different surgical specialties and concepts and skills that I have learned will most certainly benefit me throughout my career – even though I’m not staying in General Surgery. Again, I can’t thank you all enough for helping me to get to where I am now."  Simone Montoya, MD - P2 UW Surgery, University of Washington Neurosurgery
"Doing my prelim year at the University of Washington was an excellent choice. Certainly, I am pleased with the outcomes, having secured an opening at my desired program in Urology. It was by no means an easy year, but that was anticipated, and I knew coming into the year that I would not achieve my goals without a great deal of hard work. They were very accommodating with my efforts and offered a great deal of advice and support along the way. They helped organize a schedule that would maximize my exposure to my desired field at the right points of the year. They found ways to accommodate my interview schedule and helped in polishing my portfolio."  Julien Dagenais, MD- P1 UW Surgery
"This is a long overdue thank you for all your help in my surgical career to this point. I will be completing my program at Christiana Care this coming June. Subsequently, I will be starting at the University of Nebraska Medical Center for a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship. It has been a long road, but I fully believe I could not have done it without my preliminary year at your program. You pushed me in my clinical knowledge which has paid off immensely. I know you will continue to push your prelims to their full potential, treat them no differently than the categorical residents, and place them in excellent programs. Thanks again!"   D. Berkheim, MD – P1 UW Surgery, Christiana Care General Surgery, Univ of Nebraska Cardiothoracic Surgery