University of Pennsylvania

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9.2 (3)
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Contact Information

City
Philadelphia
State/Province
Pennsylvania

Program Information

Residents per class
8
University of Pennsylvania Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program

User reviews

3 reviews
Overall rating
 
9.2
Staff Surgeons
 
9.3(3)
Didactics/Teaching
 
9.3(3)
Operating Experience
 
9.0(3)
Clinical Experience
 
9.0(3)
Research
 
10.0(3)
Residents
 
10.0(3)
Lifestyle
 
8.0(3)
Location
 
8.7(3)
Overall Experience
 
9.3(3)
Penn 2014 Visiting Student - Now graduating resident
(Updated: January 24, 2020)
Overall rating
 
9.9
Staff Surgeons
 
10.0
Didactics/Teaching
 
10.0
Operating Experience
 
10.0
Clinical Experience
 
10.0
Research
 
10.0
Residents
 
10.0
Lifestyle
 
9.0
Location
 
10.0
Overall Experience
 
10.0
Addendum: I ended up matching at Penn and want to update based on my experience here over the past 5 years. I would certainly do it again. Things have changed a lot since 2014. We have every sub-specialty covered, from pre-eminent attendings in tumor to the top pediatric ortho hospital in the country, to the autonomous experience at VA, and of course exceptional trauma, joints, hand, sports, shoulder experience.

I would certainly come here again. It has everything you would need from an academic perspective as well as clinical training, to set you up for private or academic career. We now utilize a night float system, so the days of operating until rounds the next day are gone. We have a standardized experience, with everyone going through the same rotations, so no competing for the best rotations amongst residents.

Overall, the program has a softer reputation than it once did. I had heard concerns from applicants when I was applying about malignancy within the program. I think this is from generations prior. Our current cohort get along well, but we do expect hard work out of the juniors and a good attitude. While there is a big name attached to the program, it definitely has a blue collar feel.

There are certainly no deficiencies in the training here, and I have no reservations about having lived in Philadelphia. While I was apprehensive before moving here, it has truly been an amazing (and relatively affordable) 5 years in a city with a lot going on and extremely livable on a resident salary. The food scene here is phenomenal, far beyond just the cheesesteaks that most people ask about.

Would choose it again in a heartbeat

Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
I rotated on the trauma service, so my interaction was with the trauma staff: Drs. Mehta, Ahn, Donegan, Esterhai. All the faculty I worked with were highly knowledgeable and happy to teach, especially at morning conference and in clinic. Drs. Mehta and Ahn are well-known in the orthopedic trauma community. The faculty expect a lot out of you, but I was told repeatedly that it did not matter what faculty thought of me, they based their opinion of who to select for their program based on the opinions of the residents. I met briefly with Dr. Levin, the department chair. He was straightforward and friendly. According to the residents he knows everyone in orthopedics throughout the country and does a good job of getting residents into fellowship where they want to go by picking up the phone and making a call for them.

If you rotate on trauma you will likely ask Dr. Mehta for a letter of recommendation (which is written jointly by Dr. Donegan, Dr. Ahn, and Dr. Mehta). He is extremely direct during your end of rotation meeting. Since the rotation does not require submission of grades (this is true as of my rotation in 2014), he asks you off the bat what your board scores are, what your grades are, what your regional preferences are, then talks about what the residents thought of you. He is funny, but can be intimidating as he expects so much of his residents and the students.
Didactics / Teaching
As a visiting student on trauma we have fracture conference Monday, Trauma conference Tuesday, Sports conference Wednesday, Grand rounds Thursday, no conference Friday. I was told students are not called on during these conferences and this was the case for me, except for once by a resident when there were no attendings present. You will also meet one-on-one with Dr. Ahn for didactics on a joint of your choosing where he will ask you to draw an AP and lateral radiograph of a joint of your choosing and then you will talk in depth about the joint for an hour. I found this to be a little nerve-racking, but it was actually extremely educational, and as long as you study ahead of time, you can get a lot out of it that you won’t find in Netter’s. The residents are all exceptional about teaching, often taken time before and after cases to discuss various topics related to what you saw or what you will see, in a low-stakes setting.
Operating Experience
On trauma, I was amazed at the independence of the operative level residents. The intern and second year residents cover the floor and consults, with little OR exposure. However, once you enter PGY3, one trauma room is staffed by the PGY3 & PGY5 and the other is staffed solely by the PGY4. In the PGY3 room the PGY5 acts as the attending and the PGY3 takes the lead on the case. Depending on the time of year and the complexity of the case the attending may just stop in at a critical moment, but the residents pretty much run the show. Apparently this independence is not the same outside of the trauma service and some of the other specialists are much more hands on by the attending.
Clinic Experience
Dr. Mehta runs a VERY busy clinic, which provides the student with a wide variety of interesting cases to see. After the first clinic he allows you to see patients on your own and present. If you want to come off as helpful, some of the residents commented on how nice it was to have EMR access and write preliminary notes on patients that Dr. Mehta could then sign during his patient evaluation. I thought clinic was a great opportunity to formulate plans for patients and show your basic understanding of orthopedics. Dr. Donegan and Dr. Ahn’s clinics are not as busy as Dr. Mehta’s and they have more time to spend discussing each patient you see.
Research Opportunities
Everyone does research here and I was told the opportunities “fall into your lap” starting during intern year. These include everything from basic bench research to translational studies to pure clinical work. There is no shortage of research opportunities and residents seemed to be provided with a number of chances to publish and travel to conferences.
Residents
I can only speak to the trauma team, which was made up of a PGY5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and another PGY2 at night. This team was awesome. Everyone here gets along well and all the residents have a great sense of humor, which I appreciate. The interactions between the seniors and juniors were very good, people generally respected each other. Even more obvious was the interactions between Dr. Mehta and the residents, which appeared to be very friendly. I did notice that they value hard work and putting in your share of long hours at this program, and occasionally would talk about other residents if they seemed to be acting lazy or if they were hesitant to answer questions in conference.
Lifestyle
My view of the residents’ lifestyle is likely skewed by the fact that I was on trauma, the most intense rotation. The hours were pretty ridiculous, when Dr. Mehta was operating we repeatedly were in the OR until very late, as he has so many cases, many of which are highly complex. I was told that lifestyle on other rotations is better, with more regular hours.
Location / Housing
I had never been to Philadelphia and was very happy with the UPenn area. A lot of the residents live downtown in Center City, about 15-20 blocks from the hospital. I stayed in University City, where the hospital was, but this was a bit noisy, as I was just across from two bars. Housing costs seem equivalent to most big cities, slightly more affrodable compared with Boston, New York, etc. Many of the residents are married, and several of the older residents have children. There is plenty to do in town, lots of bars, restaurants, a great running/biking trail along the river, museums, etc. Philadelphia was safer than I imagined it would be, there are many UPenn security guards that patrol University City and I felt comfortable riding my bike home in the middle of the night.
Limitations
Can’t think of too many limitations. I was told it is an “old school” type of program. However, since they instituted the PGY2 night float system, the residents say things are not as bad. On trauma at least, the PGY3, 4, 5 stayed until all cases were finished, which can take a toll if you don’t enjoy late nights.
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
I really loved it here. The people were great, the hospital is huge and gets a lot of trauma and a wide variety of cases. The program has a lot of opportunity for education and research and there is a good team atmosphere. This program will definitely be at the top of my list.

Qualification

I rotated as a medical student at this program
Date of Rotation
2014
T
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UPenn Away Rotation
(Updated: January 01, 2012)
Overall rating
 
9.0
Staff Surgeons
 
9.0
Didactics/Teaching
 
10.0
Operating Experience
 
9.0
Clinical Experience
 
9.0
Research
 
10.0
Residents
 
10.0
Lifestyle
 
8.0
Location
 
7.0
Overall Experience
 
9.0
For those doing an away rotation:
1. Try to stay at Penn Guest Housing at Sansom Place ~ 1,000/month, free washers and dryers, right in the middle of Presbyterian Hospital and Hospital of Pennsylvania where you will likely be working.
2. Try the Yuengling Black and Tan - Stout beer made in Philly, it's awesome
3. If you are living on campus, walk up Walnut St, passed 38th and try Bobby's Burger Palace, the Philly burger is awesome.

** Of course work hard, learn the academic culture here (if your from the West) and adapt quickly. It will be a great rotation. And, take call! It is optional on this rotation but is well worth it.

Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
In 2009 Dr. Scott Levine took over for Dr. Richard Lackman and has done an outstanding job of making the University of Pennsylvania orthopaedic residency even more well known. In fact, his mission was to take UPenn to be "in five years a top five orthopaedic institute".He has focused his attention on creating a very "resident-centered" program and I believe he has done an excellent job of this. Although I did not work with Dr. Levine during my away rotation I did interact with him during Grand Rounds and spoke with him while I was taking call. He works non-stop, it's quite impressive. All that being said, he is a very formal person and believes firmly in a sense of professionalism at all times. For example, you are not to come to Grand Rounds or clinic in scrubs or unshaven, and must be dressed professionally and wear a tie.

I did Sports Medicine and worked with Dr. Brian Sennett who is a master arthroscopist who only sees shoulders and knees. He is a machine, very fast in the OR, runs two rooms but still finds time to do a lot of excellent teaching to the residents during the cases. I also worked closely with Dr. James Carey, who is a cartilage Master Mind. He is part of an osteochondritis dissecans work group called ROCK and does a ton of very complex cartilage repair techniques. He is absolutely outstanding and one of the best attending teachers I have ever met. Additionally, I worked with Dr. John Kelly who has to be simply the nicest attending I have ever worked with. His OR is a "positive place", which does NOT allow any form of pimping. He is extremely happy all the time and tells a lot of jokes in the OR and in clinic.
Didactics / Teaching
There was more than enough teaching at this residency. In fact, some of the residents expressed that possibly too much teaching (I believe they were being dramatic). There is always lectures in the mornings and evenings, journal clubs, saw bone labs, cadaver labs, etc. that are going on.
Operating Experience
This, like all programs, is attending specific as to how much the residents get to do. For example, on sports the residents did a ton, Trauma is unparalleled at UPenn however, from what I heard from the residents Foot and Ankle is pretty weak in terms of actual hands on training.
Clinic Experience
Clinical experience was outstanding. The residents did a ton! It was the traditional: see the patient, view any imaging, formulate a diagnosis and plan, and then come out present this to the attending.
Research Opportunities
More than enough. It has been said that the average publications from the UPenn residents by the time they graduate is 24. There is a lot of research opportunity and although the requirement for graduation is 1 project, the faculty and fellow residents frown upon those that are not involved in multiple projects. The bar is set high for them and being someone who is very interested and involved in research I thought this was outstanding.
Residents
Some of the best residents that I have ever worked with - both on a personal attitude level and a technical level. I never met a single malignant resident while I was on my rotation. In fact, the residents at UPenn were some of the most kind, intelligent, humble, and helpful residents that I have met. I was very, very impressed with them.
Lifestyle
Lifestyle is pretty good. The residents do work a lot especially as interns and 2nd years but after that it seemed like they had it pretty good. Of course they are surgery residents so they work a lot, but not so much that everyone was getting a divorce (that was married). The married guys I talked to seemed happy and the single guys I talked to seemed happy.
Location / Housing
It is Philadelphia so I think housing prices are reasonable, comparatively speaking - to the East Coast. Most residents lived in Center City, which is like 5-10 minutes from the hospital, some would just walk. It being Philadelphia though there are several areas that are shady but where UPenn Hospital is, I thought it was pretty safe.
Limitations
Didn't really identify any limitations that I can speak of. One thing that struck me about the program however, was how formal it was. There is a very distinct hierarchy that is well recognized by everyone and adhered to strictly. This was something that I was not used to (coming from the West Coast).
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
My overall rotation experience was excellent. As a medical student, I personally did not get to do much at all (did not touch a suture or an instrument once, never saw a single patient by myself either) but having had this experience I don't think that is the point of an away rotation. More importantly, I did have a great time working with the residents and observing the inner workings of this residency program and what it is all about. I believe this is one of the best residency programs in the East.

Qualification

I rotated as a medical student at this program
Date of Rotation
2013
NG
Top 100 Reviewer
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UPenn Away
(Updated: January 01, 2012)
Overall rating
 
8.7
Staff Surgeons
 
9.0
Didactics/Teaching
 
8.0
Operating Experience
 
8.0
Clinical Experience
 
8.0
Research
 
10.0
Residents
 
10.0
Lifestyle
 
7.0
Location
 
9.0
Overall Experience
 
9.0

Program Review

Staff / Faculty / Chairman
Very cool people on staff, mostly laid back. Many young surgeons and new people, excited to teach and get residents involved. Richard Lackman is stepping down so it is unclear who will be the head and what changes they might make. Hoffman, Hebela and others are young and great to work with.
Didactics / Teaching
Lots of excellent lecture, big name visiting speakers. Only concern is that lectures are spread out based on what site you are at.
Operating Experience
Mostly in the latter years as 2nd year is slammed with busy work, at least on the trauma service. On the other hand, by the 2nd year getting slammed, the 3 and above is operating morning to night, guided by the 5. Residents leave capable of everything basic including joints, cuffs and ACL's and more than ready with even complex trauma.
Clinic Experience
Plenty of time in clinics except trauma.
Research Opportunities
Every resident I met was involved with papers and were submitting 2 or 3 papers to conferences. Most were also helping to write book chapters or writing their own books.
Residents
Coolest residents I met during my entire experience. Chiefs are all willing to teach and work as equals with the 3's and 4's. A lot is expected of the 2's but the expectations are that you pay it forward and get yours later on.
Lifestyle
You will get killed in this program, no doubt about it. Trauma rotation and first two years are super busy, 5:45 to 7 or 8 pretty much everyday. Other rotations are not nearly as bad with a lot more free time depending on the surgeon.
Location / Housing
Philly is a great town, housing can be cheap and getting around is easy enough.
Limitations
Big program, lots of faculty changes though.
Overall Rotation Experience / Conclusion
Fantastic rotations, worked my butt off but had a great time and learned a ton. City was great and close to NY and DC.

Qualification

I rotated as a medical student at this program
Date of Rotation
September 2008
CM
Top 500 Reviewer
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Orthogate Reviews Widget

 
9.2 (3)
Category: Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania Orthopedic Surgery Residency Program
Penn 2014 Visiting Student - Now graduating resident (Written by teggie, March 23, 2015)
 
9.9
"Addendum: I ended up matching at Penn and want to update based on my experience here over the past 5 years. I would certainly do it again. Things have changed a lot since 2014. We have every sub-specialty covered, from pre-eminent attendings in tumor to the top pediatric ortho hospital in the country, to the autonomous experience at VA, and of course exceptional trauma, joints, hand, sports, shoulder experience. I would certainly come here again. It has everything you would need from an academic perspective as well as clinical training, to set you up for private or academic..."
UPenn Away Rotation (Written by Nathan Grimm, June 10, 2013)
 
9.0
"For those doing an away rotation: 1. Try to stay at Penn Guest Housing at Sansom Place ~ 1,000/month, free washers and dryers, right in the middle of Presbyterian Hospital and Hospital of Pennsylvania where you will likely be working. 2. Try the Yuengling Black and Tan - Stout beer made in Philly, it's awesome 3. If you are living on campus, walk up Walnut St, passed 38th and try Bobby's Burger Palace, the Philly burger is awesome. ** Of course work hard, learn the..."
UPenn Away (Written by carlton morgan, March 09, 2009)
 
8.7

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