Medical Specialty

How Competitive is a General Surgery Residency? Updated for 2023

If you want a career as a general surgeon, here is how competitive the medical specialty is to match a general surgery residency. General surgery is the branch of medicine that involves the surgical care focused  on abdominal contents including esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, appendix and bile ducts, and often the thyroid gland (depending on local referral patterns).

Statistics on the General Surgery Match

In 2022, general surgery had a total of 2,400 applicants and 1,622 spots. This equates to 1.48 applicants per position. Of the 1206 U.S. MD seniors who applied, 222 did not match.

Total Positions Total Number of Applicants Number of Applicants per Position
1,622 2,400 1.48

Osteopathic (DO) Students Matching into General Surgery

In 2022, the total number of DO Senior Applicants was 325. Of those, 200 matched, for a 61.54% match percentage. This makes general surgery a Not Friendly field for osteopathic students.

Total DO Applicants Matched DO Applicants DO Match Percentage
325 200 61.54%

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Matching into General Surgery

Because there are 0.74 U.S. MD applicants per 1 program spot, general surgery is considered to be Friendly for IMGs students.

Honors, Research and Awards for General Surgery Residency Candidates

The average matched U.S. applicant had 8.3 volunteer experiences and 3.6 work experiences. They had 4 research experiences and 7.1 abstracts, presentations and publications. That makes this specialty on where the number of publications needed is Medium.

Research Experiences Abstracts, Presentations and Publications Work Experiences Volunteer Experiences
4 7.1 3.6 8.3

Average Step 1 and Step 2 Scores for General Surgery

The mean U.S. Step 1 score for matched medical students in general surgery was 237. The mean USMLE Step 2 CK score was 250.

Overall Competitiveness of General Surgery Residency and Chances of Matching

The overall competitiveness level of general surgery is Medium to High for a U.S. senior. With a Step 1 score of 200, the probability of matching is 34%. With a Step 1 score of >240, the probability is 91%.

How long is a residency in general surgery? What is the lifestyle like for a general surgery resident?

Compared to other residencies, general surgery has a Medium training length. As far as lifestyle, general surgeons generally have a High stress lifestyle. Of course, lifestyle is very subjective and if you love what you do, it does not matter! And if you hate what you do, it can still be rough no matter what. In medicine, you should find the specialty that makes you enjoy your everyday interactions with patients, staff and colleagues.

What is the average salary for a general surgeon?

The average salary post-graduation from a general surgery residency is $364,000, provided one does not go on to sub-specialty training which can change the salary substantially. Academic versus private practice as well as location also play a large role in physician compensation.

What are fellowships one can do from a general surgery residency?

Following the successful completion of general surgery residency, some physicians may choose to continue their graduate medical education with subspecialty training. Board-certified subspecialists complete additional training and qualifying examinations beyond those required for board certification in general surgery. Currently, the American Board of Surgery certifies the following fellowships:

Subspecialty Length
Breast Surgery 1 year
Cardiothoracic Surgery 2-3 years
Colorectal Surgery 1 year
Critical Care Medicine 1-2  years
Hand Surgery 1 year
Minimally Invasive Surgery 1 year
Pediatric Surgery 1-2 years
Surgical Critical Care 1 year
Surgical Oncology 1-2 years
Transplant Surgery 1-2 years
Vascular Surgery 1-2 years

What are the best general surgery residencies in the country?

The best residency for general surgery, or any specialty, is very driven by personal preference and situation. How close you are to family, loved ones, the type of training environment, the opportunities available are all things to take into consideration above and beyond name recognition of a program. However, there are some highly regarded names in the world of general surgery including:

    • Johns Hopkins University
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
    • University of California (San Francisco)
    • Duke University Hospital
    • UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine/UCLA Medical Center
    • Washington University/B-JH/SLCH Consortium
    • University of Michigan Health System
    • Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Much of the data above is available from the AAMC Charting the Outcomes report.

Explore Other Specialties:

SpecialtyAverage Step 1 Score (Matched)Average Step 2 Score (Matched)
Child Neurology233246
Diagnostic Radiology241249
Emergency Medicine233247
Family Medicine221238
General Surgery237249
Internal Medicine235248
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics236250
Interventional Radiology247255
Neurological Surgery248252
Obstetrics and Gynecology232248
Orthopaedic Surgery248255
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation228241
Plastic Surgery249256
Radiation Oncology243250
Vascular Surgery239247


Working together to help you achieve your medical school dreams. MedSchoolCoach provides pre-med and medical school admissions consulting services, MCAT and USMLE/COMLEX tutoring, and unique experiences that help students become physicians.

Related Articles

Back to top button