Plastic Surgery residency curriculum


SIU Plastic Surgery utilizes a mentorship model. There are six full-time plastic surgery faculty and one clinical part-time faculty. The resident is assigned to a faculty member monthly. That resident is responsible for keeping the same schedule as the attending, including attending all cases, outpatient procedures in the office, rounds, orders, and notes from PGY1-6. This may also mean additional multidisciplinary boards for any patients for that month (VPI clinic, Head and neck tumor board, Melanoma clinic and tumor board, Breast tumor board). This model allows for a quicker development of skills, personalized teaching, and the development of autonomy.

PS residents with visiting professor

Rotation Schedule

On their months on plastic surgery with an assigned attending, residents are exposed to all areas of Plastic Surgery including breast surgery, facial fractures, facial aesthetic surgery, pediatric plastic surgery, hand surgery, wound management, burn surgery and reconstructive surgery following traumatic injury and cancer resection.  

Residents also rotate with other surgical specialties to broaden their scope of skills and pertinent knowledge.  These rotations are listed below; each are 1 month long unless otherwise stated. (Rotations Subject to Change)  

PGY 1: Trauma, Orthopedic Surgery, General Surgery (including Transplant Surgery) (3 months), Neurosurgery, Vascular Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, and Burn/Plastics (4 months).  
PGY 2: Mentor Month (2 months) Research, Burn/Plastics (2 months), Vascular Surgery, Breast/Onc Surgery, General Surgery, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (2 weeks), Dermatology (2 weeks), Night Float.  
PGY 3: Burn/Plastics, Research (2 months), Surgical ICU, Night Float (2 months), ENT, Mentor Month (5 months).  
PGY 4: Mentor Months (9 months), Night Float (2 months), Pediatric Plastic Surgery rotation in Chicago (either end of 4th year or beginning of 5th year).  
PGY 5: Mentor Months (11 months), Night Float.  
PGY 6: Mentor Months (12 months).  

Call Schedule

Residents have a very manageable call system consisting of both junior and chief call as well as 12 hour and 24 hour calls.  While 24 hour call or weekends on call can seem like a lot, our program is very mindful of avoiding duty-hour violations and residents are always available to help each other.

Junior call is taken from PGY1-4 and Chief call is taken from PGY5-6. 

Junior Call 
The junior resident on call will receive all calls for new consults and, on weekends, all calls on established inpatients patients as well. During the weekdays, calls for established inpatients are taken by the residents who are following those patients. If cases are going to the OR and there are no consults to see, the juniors are welcomed and encouraged to scrub in! 

On weekdays, junior call is a taken 6:30am-6:30pm, after which time the night float resident takes over junior call. 

On weekends, all on-call residents round both Saturday and Sunday. Juniors will either work a 24-hour Friday shift and a 12-hour Sunday shift, or they will work a 24-hour Saturday shift. 

Juniors will work 2 weekends per month (that’s only two 24-hour calls per month!). They are given a post-call day after their 24-hour call since they can be awake all night with primary call. 

Interns are paired with a PGY3 or PGY4 throughout their entire first year.  The purpose of this system is to teach the intern and closely monitor their work for the safety of the patient and the residents. 

Chief Call 
Chiefs will scrub into all cases that go to the operating room while they are on call. They are also expected to be available to answer questions or assist the juniors with consults or calls when needed. 

On weekdays, chiefs take 24-hour calls.  This might sound daunting, but more often than not, cases do not have to go to the operating room in the middle of a weeknight. 

Chiefs work one weekend per month.  On weekends, chiefs round with the group as well, and are on call from Friday morning to Monday morning. Again, while this seems daunting, as a back-up, there is often plenty of time to catch up on sleep between cases with the juniors taking primary call. 

During the time on burn rotation, residents manage adult and pediatric burn patients at both the general medical and IMC status. When burn patients require resuscitation, residents collaborate and work closely with the SIU Trauma Team at Memorial Burn Care to learn burn resuscitation and management in the critically ill adult patient. We also work closely with the Pediatric ICU team at St. John’s Hospital to care for pediatric burn patients. On this service, we work closely with our Burn Nurse Practitioner who helps with patient care coordination and resident teaching.

We utilize the J. Roland Folse Surgical Skills Center for residents to hone their skills in the lab through hands on training. Some of the modules in our curriculum include:

Upper Extremity Anatomy & Nerve Surgeries
Upper Extremity Flaps
Hand / Wrist ORIF Pinning, Scopes, eCTR, Cannulated Screws
Lower Extremity Flaps
Trunk / Chest and Breast Flaps
Cleft Lip and Palate
Facial Cosmetics and Migraine Surgeries
Maxillofacial Fractures and ORIF
Head and Neck Reconstruction and Flaps

We have a year-round night-float system; each resident will do a total of 6 months on night float during their time in residency. Night float contributes to several important aspects of wellness: less frequent 24-hour calls, sleep, time to study, and time at home.  The night float system was implemented several years ago, and it has been a beneficial way to ensure residents are not violating duty hours and are able to maintain a work-life balance.  

Residents are given 3 dedicated months of research between their PGY2 and PGY3 years to focus on research projects of their choice. During this time, they will work closely with our staff in the lab as well as our clinical research staff.  Residents can choose to use this time to work on grants, clinical research, or basic science research.

Residents are highly encouraged to attend national conferences. Each year, our division provides funds to cover the cost for each resident to attend a national meeting.

Residents feel very fortunate to have a microsurgical skills lab readily available. From as early as their first year, residents are able to practice microsurgery in vivo in the lab. When residents have down time, they can contact staff to schedule a practice session.  Residents often get a lot of practice in the micro lab during their research months when their schedules are more flexible. This allows for greater skill and autonomy by the time they are expected to do microsurgery in the operating room.

Resident Conferences

The Plastic Surgery residents have conferences on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in addition to the Thursday morning hand conferences. Fellows are encouraged to attend these conferences when they apply to hand and upper extremity surgery. 


Mondays are used for photo conferences, where an unknown case is presented and the residents are taken through principles of management and treatment. There is input from the faculty and opportunities for both senior and junior learners. 


Wednesday conferences are a mixture of Anatomy Labs, Surgical Skills Labs, and basic science/clinic knowledge conferences.

  • Anatomy Labs: For 9 weeks, junior residents are assigned weekly anatomy topics. When their schedules permit, residents are expected to spend time dissecting throughout the week.  On Wednesday mornings, the juniors review their topics with all the residents. These dissections and reviews are held in our Surgical Skills Lab. 
  • Surgical Skills Labs: Every other month, we have a skills lab in Memorial Learning Center with flap dissection. The curriculum is set up so that every flap listed will be performed by the resident in cadaver lab prior to graduation. 
  • CoreQuest Conference: We utilize the ACAPS Corequest Curriculum for educational conferences. Our schedule allows us to rotate through every topic in one year.


Friday conference is a mix of board preparation conference, journal club, M&M, and special sessions, such as wellness, financial planning, practice setup and negotiation, etc.

Resident Clinic

Resident Clinic is an invaluable way to use the skills residents have learned to devise their own plans for patients based on the patients' needs, to carry out those plans in the operating room or clinic, and to develop autonomy in a safe environment for both patients and residents.

Dr. Berry teaching in clinic

 The residents have Botox and filler skills sessions. During this time, Dr. Nicole Sommer and the chief residents coach the junior residents on how to use injectables.  When residents feel comfortable with injectables, they are able to participate in twice-weekly Resident Injection.  Dr. Sommer is always available for advice during Resident Injection Clinic.

As residents enter their 5th and 6th (chief) years, patients can schedule clinic appointments for Resident Cases. Resident Cases are planned, discussed, and performed by residents under Dr. Sommer's supervision.

Resident Clinic gives residents the autonomy they need to become confident surgeons prior to graduation while providing safe care for our patients under Dr. Sommer’s supervision.


Here at SIU, we understand the importance of maintaining academic excellence and personal wellness.  Our program is committed to supporting both.

The SIU Institute for Plastic Surgery is located in Springfield, Illinois, which has a population of 115,000 people.  Housing is particularly affordable in Springfield, allowing many of our residents to own their first homes during residency.  Additionally, the commute to work can be incredibly minimal, depending on where you live. Many of our residents live around Washington Park, which allows them to live in beautiful neighborhoods with a 10 minute drive to work each day.  Other residents live downtown (about 5 minutes from the hospitals), and some choose to live in nearby towns (20 minutes from the hospitals).  There are many different living arrangements suitable for each resident’s needs.

When they aren’t at the hospital, residents often gather together for fun activities including dining at the many absolutely delicious and quaint restaurants around the city, participating in Downtown Springfield, Inc.’s activities and festivals, going to wineries and breweries, utilizing running and biking trails, boating, and working out.

Our program is also supportive of residents with families and those wanting to start families. Home ownership and close proximity to the hospital is a large factor in this. Additionally, Springfield is a very family-friendly city with good parks, children’s groups and activities, great schools, friendly people, and a relaxed atmosphere.  There are multiple childcare options from day care to nannies.

Additionally, SIU participates in the American Board of Plastic Surgery Personal Leave Policy which grants up to 12 weeks of personal leave for qualifying events without impacting the residents graduation date. More information available here

Both hospitals offer free parking for residents, and both have free food in the doctors’ lounges that is available to residents.  Cold meals and snacks are available at all times and warm meals are provided for lunches and dinners. Both hospitals also provide secure sleep rooms.

Night float contributes to several important aspects of wellness: less frequent 24-hour calls, sleep, time to study, and time at home. The night float system was implemented several years ago, and it has been a beneficial way to ensure residents are not violating duty hours and are able to maintain a work-life balance. 

The SIU Plastic Surgery Residency has a Wellness Fund to further emphasize our support for residents’ wellbeing. The fund is used for group post-inservice trips and fun group activities throughout the year.