General Surgery Residency Program 


A note from the Program Director...

Welcome to the Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines General Surgery Residency Program.  After previously functioning as one of the oldest and most respected osteopathic surgery residencies, our program is now in ACGME pre-accreditation status. With our long history of osteopathic training, we continue to welcome applications from highly qualified graduates of osteopathic institutions.

The Mercy Surgery Residency is a five-year non-pyramidal general surgery program, with four residents at each postgraduate level. In addition to an expansive general surgery exposure, there is a wide variety of surgical subspecialty training available within our tertiary care facility taught by fellowship-trained faculty. These include Vascular Surgery, Trauma-ICU, Transplant, Breast Surgery, Surgical Oncology, Pediatrics, Transplant and Cardiothoracic. Because of the extensive breadth of surgical services available at Mercy Medical Center, there is no need for our residents to travel to any other facilities to acquire the surgical experience mandated by the accrediting bodies. To ensure exceptional training opportunity we have instituted a single outside rotation focusing on Burn at the University of Iowa since 2018, which goes beyond the mandated educational standard as set by the ACGME for general surgery residencies.

For residents who wish to, there is time allocated during the fourth year for elective surgical rotations either in or outside the region. Additionally, for trainees interested in an academic surgical career and/or fellowship training, up to a year can be taken between the PGY-3 and PGY-4 year to pursue appropriate research opportunities. Historically, surgery residents who have chosen to do a year of research have completed this year in conjunction with basic science faculty either at Des Moines University or at the University of Iowa.

The clinical faculty in our program instructs and supervises residents in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. Faculty members include general surgeons, many with advanced laparoscopic skills including robotic surgery, as well as those with fellowship training in colorectal surgery, surgical and gynecologic oncology, pediatrics, and transplant, and trauma-critical care, cardiothoracic and vascular/endovascular surgery. Mercy Medical Center maintains full spectrum of surgical care to its patients and consequently to the trainees: minimally invasive operations (laparoscopy, thoracoscopy, robotic; including MIS colectomy, esophagectomy, liver & pancreatic resections; ~20,000 cases annually), over 5,000 endoscopies in the endoscopy suites alone annually, full spectrum of bread & butter operations in high-volume affiliated surgical centers on site, major open operations, over 2,000 trauma activations annually, and some 5,000 deliveries annually.

Given this excellent educational environment residents from this program are able to avail themselves to a broad experience in general surgery, while still attaining a more than adequate familiarity with the index hepatobiliary, vascular, endocrine, and esophageal cases. Importantly, rotating with both medical and surgical endoscopists, residents perform endoscopies at a level in excess of the minimums required by the ACGME, ABS and ACOS.  The totality of our graduates’ surgical experience has shown itself well-suited to our trainees being able to start an independent surgical practice in both rural, urban and entry academic settings immediately post-residency. While many graduates chose to practice in rural and small urban settings, a third of the general surgery graduates opt to complete a fellowship.  Residents who have chosen a sub-specialty of surgery have been able to secure desirable fellowships in areas such as vascular, cardiothoracic, breast surgery, plastic surgery, and trauma-ICU.

Many applicants tend to concentrate on the operative numbers in assessing a prospective program (we excel here). We feel that a comprehensive didactic program is of equal importance in preparation for the practice of state-of-the-art general surgery. Our curriculum, developed in conjunction with the upper level residents, uses as its foundation the SCORE, APDS-ACS and Scientific American curricula. It incorporates traditional lecture format, case-based learning and various skills labs, as well as simulated patient encounters and team building exercises. We have state-of-art SIM facility accessible to residents at any time. At its core, it is our belief that teaching is the best path for one to solidify their grasp of a topic. As such, emphasis is placed on our PGY-4’s and PGY-5’s acquiring the skills necessary to lead the teams and educate others and they are expected to demonstrate these in their instructing the junior residents and medical students.

I invite you to explore this site to better familiarize yourself with the wide offerings of our program. Find out why our reputation for excellence in training is well-deserved. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.


Jan Franko, M.D., PhD., F.A.C.S.

Program Director
Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines

A note from the Chief Resident...

Greetings from Mercy Medical Center’s General Surgery Residency program.  My name is Paul Pierson, D.O. and I am the chief surgery resident at Mercy in Des Moines.  Our residency has existed for over 100 years and trained many fine surgeons.  Many of our graduates have entered private practice, other have engaged in research opportunities, and many others have pursued additional fellowship training.  As we continue to grow and improve, we look forward to adding new residents to our close-knit group.

Mercy’s most appealing attributes are the multiple general surgery and subspecialty surgery opportunities available to our residents.  We have multiple general surgeons who work in both the ambulatory and inpatient setting, Trauma/Critical Care, Colorectal, Surgical Oncology, Transplant, Pediatric Surgery, Vascular Surgery and Cardiothoracic.  We are continuing to implement a robotics component to our curriculum.

Our residents, after completing their fifth year, pursued multiple subspecialty and fellowship opportunities.  In the last five years we have had residents continue their training in Vascular surgery, Cardiothoracic, Trauma/Acute Care as well as many working as both private practice and hospital employed surgeons.  All of our graduates leave this program with an abundance of surgical experience and the confidence and experience to practice. 

The Mercy General Surgery Residency is an excellent program and our residents are a cohesive and close-knit group.  The greatest strength of this program has always been the people we bring in and the sense of family between our residents.  We value comradery and cooperation among our residents, and work hard to instill those qualities in our new interns

Please feel free to contact me with questions regarding out program or the match process in general.  Best of luck in your search

Paul Pierson, DO

(515) 247-3121
1111 6th Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50314

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