Review Detail

by John Langland     August 12, 2007    
(Updated: December 10, 2011)
Overall rating 
Staff Surgeons 
Operating Experience 
Clinical Experience 
Overall Experience 


Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
Dr. Vail is amazing. He makes time for the residents on a weekly basis and is at many of the morning conferences at the Parnassus campus. He is really taking the program to another level and the other adult reconstruction faculty are really cool. Some of the other faculty members are great teachers and make time to help the residents on a day-to-day basis. Dr. Ma is one of those faculty members. He takes the time at the end of every clinic or OR day to review the patients and cases. Unfortunately, some of the other faculty are not as warm and not as into teaching.
Didactics / Teaching
Didactics are great. Conferences are every morning. One problem, however, is that the residency program covers different facilities/hospitals spread throughout the San Francisco area. Adult reconstruction, spine, and pediatrics are at UC/Parnassus. Sports, foot & ankle, and hand are out at the new Orthopaedic Institute at Mission Bay (an awesome outpatient facility). Most of the trauma is at SF General that has 2/5 residents in every class at all times. Tumor and some other stuff is at another hospital that I never made it to. They also cover the SF VA and I never even saw any of those residents. The bottom line is that clinical responsibilities limit the residents in being able to attend many conferences that are usually held in the morning at UC. This is because getting around the city can be very troublesome, there is a good shuttle system, but it can take a while. The residents at SF General have their own morning conferences. The bottom line is that access to didactic teaching sessions can be very limited when residents are on certain services. Its a problem that I hope can be addressed, because the program is great. After grand rounds, the entire resident group has teaching sessions until mid-morning that are really good.
Operating Experience
I was very impressed by the operative experience that the residents get. Chiefs are very comfortable handling nearly everything. Most of the early OR experience happens at SF General. The exposure that the residents get to trauma at SF general is absolutely the ticket here. The one thing that many residents will admit to being a little weak in is foot & ankle, and I think that the sports exposure may be a little soft too. Trauma exposure is phenomenal. Joints exposure is phenomenal. Strong spine exposure. Tumor is there, but like all programs, its limited. Strong hand/upper extremity exposure as well.
Clinic Experience
The clinic facilities are great. Some attendings make the clinic experience stronger than others. Its different on different services. Sometimes residents are being actively taught throughout the day in clinic, other times it felt as though they were just bodies getting work done. I can't speak highly enough about the new Orthopaedic Institute at Mission Bay. I only made it out there once, but it was amazing. Its brand new and geared towards ortho in terms of the clinic staff, setup, and the outpatient ORs.
Research Opportunities
There is the opportunity to take a research year. Research is one of the program's definite strong points. They have some research power players (like Dr. Bozic) that are really impressive and many of the residents have ongoing research projects with attendings on different services. There is a definite academic feel to the program that I felt was a serious high point.
The residents are all really great. Most are very bright, and you can tell that they all wanted to be at UCSF, which is different from residents at other programs I've visited. Given the lifestyle of the city, and the way the program is spread over facilities throughout the SF area, the residents as a whole do not seem as close-knit as other programs I've visited. One thing I also thought was a little unusual was interaction that R4s and R5s have with the junior residents. They pimp them on a regular basis. Sometimes interrupting the middle of a presentation or talk to call out a younger resident and ask them questions about classification systems and stuff. I think that the Socratic method is a good one, and I think that senior to junior resident teaching is very, very crucial to a program, but at times this seemed to be a little too much.
San Francisco is a great city. Great food, great night life. The Marina has a good bar scene. Golden Gate park is only a few blocks from Parnassus and has a bunch of space for biking, running, etc where you actually don't even feel like you are in the city. Wine country is very close, although I didn't make it up there I heard its a quick hour drive North of the Bay.
Location / Housing
Housing is a serious problem. The residents get an extra housing stipend to cover the increased cost of living in San Francisco, and even though its an extra few thousand a year, I do not think it makes up the difference. Its a definite tradeoff that a resident must make. Go to Iowa, you can buy a 3 bd house and still save money, but you might be bored out of your mind. Go to SF, you'll have an absolute blast, but you'll be living in a overpriced, under-renovated, box. Pick your poison.
The facilities are a double-edged sword. <br />
They are top-notch, but the program is spread throughout the city at 1 of 5 locations at any given time, which limits the contact amongst the residency class to a certain point. Some of the faculty are a little abrasive, but this is a minority.
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
Overall UCSF is awesome. Some key faculty members in high places are resident oriented. The operative experience is well-balanced. Research is incredible. This program is on the rise and continues to expand.


I am a medical student at this school.
Date of Rotation
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