Program Overview

Message from the Program Director of Education, General Surgery, Ronald A. Rhodes, MD

From a humble beginning, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital has grown into a major medical center with excellent opportunities for residents to obtain a broad-based or specialized medical education.  In our environment typical of community hospitals, we offer advanced technology and tertiary care services of a major medical center. As a major teaching hospital of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine/Pharmacy and with close ties to the adjacent Youngstown State University, St. Elizabeth's offer its residents an opportunity for active involvement with the education of medical students.

Our goals are to meet the demands of patient care in a changing population, continue modern trends in thought and technology, maintain a strong undergraduate and graduate education program, and support medical education and research programs. Medical education is an important and integral part of the overall health care mission and activity of Mercy Health - Youngstown. We recognize that the quality of patient care is greatly enhanced by the presence of teaching and training programs in which bright, inquisitive and energetic young physicians and students actively pursue the study of medicine.

Surgical Education Mission
Surgical education and research are premier co-missions of the Department of Surgery, which is committed to providing the optimal surgical experience to the medical students and surgical residents who are integrated into our surgical services. Our mission is to provide them with a background of innovative surgical skills, as well as the competencies of inquiry, analysis, and communication that they may experience the roles of leadership as lifelong scholars and clini-cians.

SEHC Commitment to Surgical Education
William Halstead, the founder of surgical residency training in the United States, was still alive in 1920 when Norm Gallagher of New Jersey became the first surgeon to complete his training in general surgery at SEHC.  St. Elizabeth's was only 9 years old at that time, having been founded in 1911 by the Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary.  On August 26, 1949, the general surgery residency program was approved by the American Medical Association Council on Medical Education and Hospitals (the accrediting body before the Residency Review Committee was formed) and has been in existence ever since. Education is inseparable from the growth of St. Elizabeth’s and is reflected in the education budget, the increasing number of full-time and geographic faculty, and the growing association with NEOUCOM. Mercy Health has shown its commitment to this concept by providing the necessary resources required to develop and maintain excellent residency programs.

Educational Facilities and Resources
Computer classrooms, a modern 215-seat auditorium, a media center, in-house libraries, and all NEOUCOMP facilities are available to residents and medical students.

As a member of the Council of Hospital Librarians of NEOUCOMP, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital has a full-service library that offers a comprehensive collection of books and journals. Computer searches for information are available through on-line databases and interlibrary loan networks.  The website is a valuable community resource for electronic books, journals, databases, and other information. The Jeghers Medical Index System is recognized as a major clinical information resource, especially for journal articles published before 1965 ( 

Other Residency Programs at SEHC
Our teaching program includes residencies for postgraduate training with more than 70 physicians in general surgery, family medicine, internal medicine, transitional, and general dentistry. In the department of surgery, the only residency program is general surgery; there are no other specialty residencies or fellowships. Therefore, during a specialty rotation, the general surgery resident is the only resident in that specialty and, as the sole recipient of that training, has a greater involvement in direct patient care in all the specialties throughout the 5 years of training. This is a great advantage to residents who establish a private practice in areas with a shortage of specialists.

Number of Approved Residency Positions in General Surgery
The General Surgery residency program at SEHC is approved for 3 categorical positions in each of the five postgraduate years.

Mercy Health Teaching Hospitals
St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital, Boardman, Ohio; 
St. Joseph Warren Hospital, Warren, Ohio

The PGY 3 surgery residents complete a 3-month rotation in Pediatric Surgery/Burns at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, Ohio and a 1-month rotation in transplant surgery at University Hospitals, Cleveland, Ohio.

Organizational Chart, St. Elizabeth Surgical Education

  • David J. Gemmel, PhD, Sr. Director, Medical Education and Research
  • Ronald A. Rhodes, MD, Director of Surgical Education, Director, Council of Surgical Education and Director, General Surgery
  • Michele Murphy, Program Coordinator, General Surgery Residency

Council of Surgical Education
The Council members assist the program director to:  (1) periodically review Program Goals and Objectives; (2) develop policies for the surgical residency; (3) evaluate surgical residents and make recommendations for advancement; (4) review and revise the surgical education curriculum; (5) participate in resident recruitment; (6) prepare the program for the accreditation process and Residency Review Committee (RRC) site visit.

Council Members:
    Mounir Awad, MD, Site Officer, St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital
    Joseph A. Ambrose, MD, Volunteer Faculty Representative
    Nancy L. Gantt, MD; Associate Program Director, Director of
    Surgical Clerkships and Non-NEOUCOM Student    Clerkships
    Brian S. Gruber, MD, Director, Trauma/Critical Care Services
    Vincent W. Vanek, MD, Associate Program Director and Director of
    Marc S. Saunders, DO, Site Officer, St. Joseph Warren Hospital 
    Chief Administrative Resident

Hospital-based General Surgery Teaching Faculty
C. Michael Dunham, MD; Nancy L. Gantt, MD; Brian S. Gruber, MD; Kenneth J. Ransom, MD; Ronald A. Rhodes, MD; Vincent W. Vanek, MD

Volunteer Teaching Faculty
The voluntary teaching faculty who represent general surgery as well as the spectrum of surgical subspecialties have made a commitment to participate in the education of surgical residents.

Resident Counselors:  The assigned counselors will follow their residents throughout their residency.
Brian S. Gruber, MD        PGY 5
Nancy L. Gantt, MD        PGY 4
                                           PGY 3
Ronald A. Rhodes, MD        PGY 2
Vincent W. Vanek, MD        PGY 1

Requirements for General Surgery Residency Education
The goal of our surgical residency program is to prepare the resident to function as a qualified practitioner of surgery at the advanced level of performance expected of a board-certified specialist.  The education of residents for the practice of general surgery encompasses didactic instruction in the basic and clinical sciences of surgical diseases and conditions, as well as education in procedural skills and operative techniques.  The educational process leads to the acquisition of an appropriate fund of knowledge, the ability to integrate the acquired knowledge into the clinical situation, and the development of surgical judgment.  

Upon completion of residency, the program director must certify that the graduating resident is an ethical physician of good moral standing and has satisfactorily completed or is expected to complete satisfactorily a chief residency year in general surgery in the program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) under the program director's direction. The program director will also certify that the applicant exhibits sufficient medical knowledge; ability to apply basic science to surgery; diagnostic and manipulative skills; surgical judgment; technical operative expertise; and interpersonal skills as to be considered fully prepared for independent responsibility as a specialist in general surgery.

The length of our General Surgery Residency program is 5 clinical years as required by the Residency Review Committee for General Surgery (RRC), which is under the auspices of the ACGME.  All applicants must register through ERAS.  Interviews are scheduled during the months of November and December.

ACGME Competencies
Our residency program requires residents to obtain competence in the six core competencies to the level expected of a new practitioner: patient care, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, and systems-based practice.