Medical doctors can specialize in plastic surgery by completing residency programs offered at university-affiliated teaching hospitals. Integrated residency programs in this field include general surgical training, while independent programs require that doctors complete a general surgical residency as a prerequisite for admission.
The following plastic surgery schools are among the best in the United States and are located in different parts of the country. Ranking institutions evaluate these colleges for plastic surgery and programs based on criteria such as graduation rates, exclusivity in admissions, the success of graduates in the job market, and the opinion of experts in the field.
Students who realize they wish to pursue plastic surgery should begin this specialized training during their residency. During their doctorate at a plastic surgeon college, the student should take classes in the area they hope to practice. For instance, a plastic surgeon who intends to work on facial reconstruction will need to take dental classes.
The Combined Plastic Surgery Residency Training Program at Harvard University combines formerly separate, fully accredited, independent two-year residency programs at five teaching hospitals in Boston. Residents in the program rotate among these hospitals, which have more than 2,400 inpatient beds and 8,000 resident-staffed plastic surgery cases per year.
This diverse clinical experience is one of the best plastic surgery residency programs. It supports the core curriculum, which emphasizes essential topics in the field such as cosmetic surgery, breast, hand and craniofacial reconstruction, cleft lip and palate procedures, and microsurgery.
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, located in Baltimore, Maryland, offers integrated and independent residency programs in conjunction with the University of Maryland and several area hospitals. The department includes fellowships in four specialized programs: burn surgery, upper extremity surgery, craniofacial surgery and reconstructive microsurgery.
The integrated residency is a seven-year program that includes training in general surgery, clinical or basic research, and plastic surgery. The independent residency is a three-year concentrated program available only to doctors who are board certified in general surgery, otolaryngology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, urology, or oral and maxillofacial surgery.
University of California, San Francisco
The plastic surgery residency at the University of California, San Francisco, is a six-year program. The first three years emphasize training in general surgery, and the last three years focus on plastic surgery, including in-depth training in all aspects of the specialty. During their clinical training, residents are also required to engage in a year of research.
The program is administered in conjunction with five area hospitals, including UCSF Medical Center, which emphasizes general reconstruction, including microsurgery and pediatric plastic surgery, and San Francisco General Hospital, which specializes in reconstruction after trauma. Graduates of the program can earn certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
University of Chicago
The Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago offers an accredited six-year integrated residency program in plastic and reconstructive surgery. The first three years of the program focus on general surgical procedures and principles. In the fourth year, residents begin their formal training in plastic surgery and are assigned to rotations at off-site hospitals and at several private practices for experience in reconstructive procedures, cosmetic surgery and management of a plastic surgery office.
The last two years of the program follow an apprenticeship model in which residents learn about the preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative methods and management style of each faculty member. Residents are also encouraged to pursue basic or clinical laboratory research throughout their training.
- Forbes: America’s Top Colleges
- Webometrics: Ranking Web of Universities
- American College of Surgeons: Division of Education: Plastic Surgery
- Harvard Plastic Surgery: Combined Residency Program
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Residencies and Fellowships
- The University of California, San Francisco: Department of Surgery: San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center
- The University of Chicago Department of Surgery: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Residency
Todd Sallo has been a professional writer and editor since 1991. His areas of expertise include K-12 and higher education policy, science and health-related topics, language and fine arts. Sallo’s articles have appeared in “National CrossTalk” magazine and in the 2012 book, “American Higher Education.” He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz.