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 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. 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 has multidisciplinary centers dedicated to the management of obesity and breast diseases; both have been designated as national centers of excellence.

Graduating residents’ operative numbers can be viewed within this website.  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 and small urban 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 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 and APDS-ACS curricula. It incorporates traditional lecture format, case-based learning and various skills labs, as well as simulated patient encounters and team building exercises. 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 best educate others and they are expected to demonstrate these in their instructing the junior residents, as well as the numerous medical students and others that rotate on the surgery services year-round.

We invite you to explore this site to better familiarize yourself with the wide offerings of our residency program. We believe that you will see that 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 Residents

A note from the Chief Residents...

Hello from the chief residents at Mercy Medical Center! This is the oldest osteopathic general surgery residency program in the profession and has a long history of producing technically proficient surgeons.  We are in the process of implementing some new organizational features such as an acute care surgical model and it is an exciting time!


Mercy’s most appealing facets include a diverse surgical curriculum where our residents have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with multiple sub specialties.  During your education you will have the chance to be on rotations in general surgery, colorectal, surgical oncology, trauma, vascular, pediatrics, transplant, and cardiothoracic surgery.  Some of our residents have also completed time in a robotics emphasis rotation. 


Our residents, after finishing their fifth year, have pursued a variety of vocations.  In the last few chief classes we have had residents go on to pursue fellowships in vascular, cardiothoracic, and trauma/critical care.  Others have gone straight into successful general surgical careers.  Rest assured that you will have the requisite experience and knowledge to be a confident surgeon at the end of your training. 


As you search for a surgical residency we hope that you’ll give Mercy a good look.  We feel that far and away our most appealing quality is the close knit family we have here.  We value comradery and cooperation among the residents.  You will notice quickly that we treat each other like family and value each other’s contributions to the team


Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding our program or the match process in general. Best of luck to all of you in your search!


Bill Nechtow, DO – WNechtow@mercydesmoines.org

Brodi Smith, DO – Bsmith7@mercydesmoines.org


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

Copyright ©2018 Mercy Medical Center. All Rights Reserved