Preliminary Surgery

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Department of Surgery Seal“Our mission is to train leaders in surgery and to train physicians who can operate in a community environment that holds to the highest ethical and professional standards and espouses the core surgical values of duty, honor and responsibility to patients.”

Welcome to the Preliminary Surgery Residency Program at the University of Washington!  In the webpages to follow we hope to show you who we are in both the incredible depth and breadth of our program.  The University of Washington provides extraordinary training in the robust intellectual environment of one of the top universities in the world.  Like most university-based surgical programs, the University of Washington program provides a comprehensive experience that is designed to produce the highest caliber physician.  We also have great pride in our collegial, collaborative and supportive training environment with great resident morale.  During your year(s) with us you will be a surgeon.

All of our preliminary residents are an important part of our community and are treated as equals in the residency program. Our philosophy is that all residents care for the same patients and we have the same expectations for excellent care regardless of their ultimate destination in medicine/surgery. We enjoy maximizing the educational experience and career potential for each of our residents.

Our educational mission is to create exceptional physicians who are clinically and technically superb while emphasizing continued learning, ethical principles, service, interpersonal relationships, and compassionate patient care.  Our program is intellectually challenging, with a pursuit of excellence.  One of the ways we distinguish ourselves from the handful of other elite programs is the incredible combination of a few things:

  • The five states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI), comprising 27% of the U.S. land mass, serve as our geographic catchment area of tertiary and quaternary referrals for everything ranging from elective surgery to surgical complications and Level I trauma care. This provides an unmatched range of pathology.
  • A top 10 U.S. Cancer Center which provides world-class surgical oncology.
  • One of the leaders in trauma/critical care/burn care in the world in partnership with the renowned Life Flight Northwest.
  • The 6 hospitals of UW Medicine, all university hospitals, each with a different care focus.
  • We are proud to have an ACS Level 1 Simulation Center with a curriculum for all of our residents.
  • A unique spirit of collegiality and collaboration which fosters a sense of camaraderie and community that defines our region.

All set in the extraordinary spectacular beauty of our environs of the Pacific NW – with green trees and flowers year around, and mountain peaks and water ways in every direction.

As the Program Director, my goal is to create an exciting, positive, supportive and progressive environment that fosters self-directed learning. The Pacific NW is the perfect setting for this in terms of shared goals of a community where everyone is pulling in the same direction and our flatter cultural hierarchies.

Thank you for your interest in our program!  We all look forward to meeting you.


Karen D. Horvath, MD
Professor of Surgery
Associate Chair, Division of Education
Director, Residency Programs in General and Preliminary Surgery

Quick Facts

Our residents:

  • 50% are female
  • 30% are URiM

Our program:

  • Has been training surgeons since 1947
  • Offers experience in robotic surgery (even as an R1).
  • Provides a hybrid training model: typical university resident team structure and apprenticeship model training both used on different rotations.
  • All of the faculty are full-time teaching faculty in the University of Washington School of Medicine, committed to surgical education. The majority are national and international leaders.

Our department community:

  • Our Wellness Committee includes an equal number of faculty, residents and staff
  • Our Diversity Council also includes faculty, residents and staff
  • We focus on the development of the whole surgeon, emphasizing intellect, surgical skill, and humanity.


Program Leadership

Dr. Karen Horvath

Karen Horvath, MD
Program Director
Associate Chair for Education
Practice: Emergency General Surgery, Necrotizing Pancreatitis

Dr. Deborah Marquardt

Deborah L. Marquardt, MD
Associate Program Director: VA-PSHCS
Practice: General Surgery, Critical Care

Dr. Lisa Mcintyre

Lisa McIntyre, MD
Associate Program Director: Harborview
Practice: Trauma/Critical Care

Dr. Rebecca Peterson

Rebecca Peterson, MD, MSc
Associate Program Director: UWMC–Northwest
Practice: General Surgery, Complex Hernias and Abdominal Wall Reconstruction

Dr. Caitlin Smith

Caitlin Smith, MD
Associate Program Director: Seattle Children’s Hospital
Practice: Pediatric Surgery

Dr. Nicole Zern

Nicole Zern, MD
Associate Program Director: UWMC–Montlake
Practice: Endocrine Surgery

Nick Cetrulo

L. Nicholas Cetrulo, MD
Director, ABSITE and Board Review
Practice: General Surgery, Complex Hernias

Dr. Judy Chen

Judy Chen-Meekin, MD
Director for Resident Education in Quality & Patient Safety
Practice: Bariatrics, MIS General Surgery

Dr. Grant O'Keefe

Grant O’Keefe, MD, MPH
Director, Resident Research
Practice: Trauma, Critical Care, HPB

Dr. James Park

James Park, MD
Director of Robotic Training
Practice: HPB Surgery

Dr. Andrew Wright

Andrew Wright, MD
Director, Technical Skills Education
Practice: Foregut, Complex Hernia, MIS