Description of the Surgical Residency for Physician Assistants

residents working in the lab

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide a dynamic and hands on training experience to ensure physician assistants can provide the highest level of comprehensive patient care. The surgical PA residency curriculum is tailored to support the residents’ development of clinical skills and knowledge in order to become exceptional and well-rounded providers in surgery.

Training will be provided on the surgical floors and in the ICUs clinics and operating room. Residents will become proficient in pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative care. Additional instruction in our state-of-the-art simulation and minimally invasive surgical training centers will strengthen both clinical decision making and technical skill sets.

In this world class academic institution, PA residents will learn basic and advanced surgical concepts and techniques. Under appropriate supervision, PA residents will gain the confidence and experience necessary to practice in a wide variety of surgical specialties in academic and private settings.


PA residents will have the opportunity to rotate through several core surgical rotations throughout the year. They will also have the opportunity to select 1 to 2 elective rotations. Rotations are each generally 3-6 weeks long.

When on a surgical rotation, you will be involved in all aspects of peri-operative patient care. Opportunities to first and second assist in appropriate cases will also be available. Over the course of the year, residents can expect to have time divided between patient management ( ~75% ) and direct surgical responsibilities (~25% ). Additional skills that you will have an opportunity to develop include phlebotomy, IV placement, foley placement, wound care, and removal of surgical drains. Advance procedures such as central line and chest tube placement, thoracentesis, and bronchoscopies will be performed under supervision until hospital competency is obtained.

PA Residents will follow the same schedule and adhere to the same call requirements as the surgical residents on the team. Both physician assistant and surgical residents will follow the guidelines established by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education that became effective on July 1, 2020.

Physician Assistant Residents will be taught core clinical skill competencies in the Minimally Invasive Surgical Training Center (MISTC) a 6200 square foot laboratory facility. 

Learn more about our specific policies:

The Johns Hopkins Postgraduate Surgical Residency for Physician Assistants does not offer advanced placement. The Johns Hopkins Postgraduate Surgical Residency for Physician Assistants does not provide academic credit for this program.


Modeled after the surgical MD resident program, you will follow a similar schedule and call requirements as the surgical residents with whom you are paired on your primary team. This relationship facilitates the intense mentoring and collaboration that is required for your growth and development in surgical, medical, and critical thinking skills.

Rotation schedules have been organized to provide the most educational and supportive environment in which to learn.  Any concerns related to the rotations should be brought immediately to the attention of the program directors or educational coordinator. We reserve the right to change the rotation schedule at any time in order to meet the needs of the individual PA resident or the needs of the institution.  

General Surgery rotations may include:

  • Cardiac
  • Thoracic
  • Vascular
  • Pediatrics
  • General
  • Plastics
  • Trauma
  • GI
  • ICU
  • Community Hospital
  • Oncology/Endocrinology
  • Transplant
  • Urology
  • Orthopedic

Didactic opportunities include:

  • Surgical Grand Rounds
  • Surgical M&M
  • Weekly Resident Lectures
  • Monthly Hands on Surgical Lab
  • Simulation Lab
  • Service Lectures and Conferences
  • ATLS


During these rotations, you will be supervised by attending physicians, fellows, chief residents, PAs, NPs and surgical residents.  For the majority of the rotations, you will be paired with residents and/or PA/NPs with whom you will provide a totality of care: assess and respond to patient care needs, provide medical and surgical care with guidance from senior staff, and prepare patients for their immediate and long-term discharge needs.  You will also see pre- and post-operative patients in clinic with surgical PAs, NPs and Attending physicians. 

For each rotation, there is a designated primary rotation preceptor.  You should contact this preceptor the week before your rotation starts, meet in person, and review the service objectives and expectations with them. 
When you are on call you will be paired with a resident or fellow from your primary service or with the back-up of a cross-cover resident who receives sign out from the primary service.  When moving from one service to another, you will be expected to demonstrate your abilities before more degrees of independence are provided on that new service.  Senior residents, chiefs, or attendings are available for direct or telephone consultation at all times. 
All PA Resident orders are written under supervision until abilities are validated by the PA Residency Leadership in conjunction with the preceptor(s).


  • It is the job of each resident to make these experiences the best they can be, to provide the very best care they can provide, and to learn everything you can from the mentors surrounding you each day.
  • PA residents are required to log BOTH their duty hours and their procedures. These logs are reviewed regularly in order to ensure compliance with the 80 hour work week. Failure to comply with these logging policies will result in disciplinary action. It is also the resident’s responsibility to report violations in hours to the residency director in a timely manner with an explanation of the violation. Residency faculty will work with the resident and team leader to ensure that violation in hours can be addressed and corrected in order to comply with the guidelines.
  • Procedure logs must be kept and logs and must be completed at the end of each rotation and prior to starting the next rotation. If you do not turn in your required documents at the end of the rotation, you may not be allowed to start your next rotation. Please note, if final procedure logs are not turned in at the end of the program, your records will be incomplete and you will not be able to successfully complete the program. Procedure logs should be kept for each rotation and include:
    • Date
    • Age/Sex of patient
    • Attending
    • Diagnosis
    • Procedure
    • Your role in the procedure such as first or second assist, prep/drap, open, close incision
    • Additional comments

An additional section should be maintained to track other skills and minor procedures of drain removals, foley insertions, wound vac changes, central line placements/removals.

Advanced duties: For procedures considered advanced by the MD Board of Physicians and the hospital credentialing committee, you must maintain a procedure log and document MRN number, procedure and who observed you performing these procedures.   Examples include chest tube removals (5), blake tube removals (5), central line insertion, arterial line insertions.   Advanced duties may not be performed independently until you have performed a certain number under direct supervision and submitted a request to the Maryland Board of Physicians and/or JHH Credentialing for approval.  

  • Review rotation specific objectives for each rotation prior to starting the rotation.
  • Evaluation of rotations: Rotation evaluations must be completed after each rotation. The rotation evaluations are done through qualtrics. Residency leadership will send a link to the rotation evaluation. This information will be used to improve future rotations. If you have difficulties during a rotation, please let us know as soon as possible. We will work to address difficulties immediately- don’t wait until the end of the rotation.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that all your certifications are kept current. This includes but is not limited to: Maryland License, CPR/BLS, ACLS, PANCE, and CDS. If you require any assistance with scheduling or paperwork it is your responsibility to let us know.
  • Completion of a Risk Management course and completion of your MyLearning modules are JHH requirements. Failure to complete the Risk Management seminar can result in revocation of your credentialing.
  • TB Testing- Hospital policy requires a TB test from all employees annually. However, occasions may arise when they require it more frequently, and you will be notified by email. Failure to be tested can result in termination of employment.
  • Check your email on a daily basis. Many residency and hospital communications are sent by email.

Additional Resources: It is the job of each resident to make these experiences the best they can be, to provide the very best care they can provide, and to learn everything you can from the mentors surrounding you each day. The residency year is challenging, enriching, and intense. Please know that the residency faculty is here to support you and help you as much as possible. Should we not be able to meet those needs, please do not hesitate to access the Johns Hopkins Employee Assistance Program employee assistance team. You can reach JHEAP 24/7, 365 days a year. JHEAP is the employee assistance program available to all Johns Hopkins Health System employees and their household family members. JHEAP provides private and confidential services. Their services are detailed at Employee Assistance Program (

On-Call Activities:

On some required rotations you will be expected to take either Saturday day call or Friday overnight call once a week. You will be teamed up with a cross covering resident for the service you are covering. Additionally, you will be assigned overnight call on the Trauma service throughout the year on Friday nights when you are on a service that does not require overnight call. Taking call has been reported to be an excellent opportunity for learning. You should take advantage of your time on call to visit your patients often, manage patient issues that arise, perform consults, assist in the operating room and read if time permits.  

The objective of on-call activities is to provide residents with continuity of patient care experiences throughout a 24 hour period. In-house call is defined as those duty hours beyond the normal work day when residents are required to be immediately available in the assigned situation.

  • In-house call must occur no more frequently than every third night, averaged over a four week period
  • Continuous on-site duty, including in-house call, must not exceed 24 consecutive hours.  Residents may remain on duty for up to six additional hours to participate in didactic activities, transfer care of patients, conduct outpatient clinics, and maintain continuity of medical and surgical care as defined in Specialty and Subspecialty Program Requirements
  • No new patients, as defined in Specialty and Subspecialty Program Requirements, may be accepted after 24 hours of continuous duty
  • At-home call (pager call) is defined as call taken from outside the assigned institution.  The frequency of at-home call is not subject to the every third night limitation.  However, at-home call must not be so frequent as to preclude rest and reasonable personal time for each resident.  Residents taking at-home call must be provided with one day in seven completely free from all educational and clinical responsibilities, averaged over a four week period
  • When residents are called into the hospital from home, the hours spent in-house are counted towards the 80 hour duty limit

Completion of Program:

Successfully Completed: This category is consistent with an "average to above average" evaluation rating, and is considered the minimal performance standard for successful progression through and completion of the Johns Hopkins Post-Graduate Surgical Physician Assistant Residency Program.

resident standing next to a poster
  • Clinical Performance/Professionalism:
    • Receives an average score of greater than 6.5/10 on each performance category and overall performance score on evaluations at six month evaluation and final evaluation.  If not meeting this benchmark at six months, you must show consistent improvement in scoring over the remainder of the program.
    • Consistently receives positive verbal feedback or if areas of weakness are identified through verbal feedback, improvement must be evident in the PA resident performance after receiving the feedback.  
    • Prompt and consistent attendance to all scheduled shifts, didactic labs and lectures.
  • Upholds/demonstrates The Johns Hopkins Hospital CORE values which are excellence and discovery, leadership and integrity, diversity and inclusion, and respect and collegiality.
  • Laboratory/Classroom Testing:
    • Ability to demonstrate performance of all suturing skills measured with OSATS examination in the expected time allotment by the sixth month of residency.
    • Score of 85% or higher on mid-year and final instrument identification and usage examination.
    • Adequately complete testing and demonstrate acceptable medical and surgical knowledge indicated by the PowerPoint test, written test, rotation evaluations and quizzes.
    • Active participation in all MISTC laboratories, with demonstration of average or greater surgical abilities in MISTC lab by sixth month of program-tissue handling, suturing skills, surgical first assist, draping, prepping, and proper instrument selection and usage.
    • Active participation in all Simulation Laboratory Sessions.
  • Successfully lead two case presentations throughout the academic year in the PA lecture series. Quality of case presentation must be acceptable as determined by PA residency faculty.
  • We encourage you to complete a special project or activity while you are here.  Examples include poster or oral presentation at the AAPA or similar regional or national Conference, an educational project which current and future PA residents will benefit from such as a visual aid for commonly utilized instruments or materials for required rotations, or a research project pertaining to postgraduate PA training or other relevant topic. 

The Program and Medical Director will hold ultimate responsibility for determining graduation status. In the event of a dispute, the final decision will be made by the Chair of the Department of Surgery.


Graduation criteria have been developed out of respect for the residents who come to the program and invest time and effort to ensure that they leave the program stronger and more proficient than when they entered. Throughout the program, faculty and residents will meet periodically (usually at three, six, and eleven months into the program) to evaluate progress and needs. Frequency and content will be determined by resident rotation evaluations, informal and formal feedback from preceptors, concerns identified by the individual resident and clinical performance and laboratory/classroom testing sessions.  You may also request additional meetings for reviews and/or feedback at any time throughout the program.

If the faculty and/or resident perceive that the resident will be unable to meet the criteria for Successful Completion of the Residency Program, the following actions will be taken:

  1. Program Faculty and the PA resident will meet to discuss performance and/or knowledge deficiencies.  An individualized performance improvement plan (PIP) will be designed and agreed upon by the resident and faculty to address the deficiencies over a specified period of time.
  2. During this period, the PA resident will be placed in a probationary standing.
  3. If a resident, despite discussions and implementation of a performance improvement plan, is unable to meet the standards of care, practice, and safety established by the faculty of the program, they may be terminated from the residency.  The circumstances leading to this decision are reviewed by and the decision to terminate is made with the Chair of the Department of Surgery, and is not subject to appeal.

PA residents are Hospital employees, and as such, are held to the same disciplinary rules and processes as all other Hospital employees.  Please refer to the JHH Employee handbook for any and all details of theses policies.

Paid Time Off:

This residency is a mix of educational opportunity, training and service. As such, and following ACGME design, resident work weeks are 6 days per week.  Individual rotations may structure those days differently. Residency directors reserve the right to supplement rotation hours to meet learning and service needs within the department.   

As a resident you are a member of the hospital staff and therefore receive 22 days of paid time off (PTO) annually. PTO includes absence due to vacation, sick, conference and interview days. The PA residencies are training programs that follow the ACGME format. Accordingly, PA residents are expected to be available to services or for education six out of seven days unless taking vacation days. 

To take vacation time, you must send your request to the program directors, and carbon copy the staff assistant. Once approved, you will be notified. It will also be recorded and submitted for payroll processing. You are expected to know how much time you have taken and reserved, and make allowances as required.

To facilitate scheduling and ensure all program requirements are met, you are asked to plan for two one-week blocks of vacation. Additional vacation days must be submitted for approval at least two weeks before starting a new rotation.  We are unable to approve elective vacation requests once a rotation has started.  The program requires that you not pre-schedule at least four days of your PTO. These days can then be used for sick time throughout the year.  No requests will be approved during the last four weeks of the program and on testing days. 

  • Holidays:  Given that you are resident status, you will not be guaranteed time off for the 13 holidays recognized by the hospital system.  We will allow time off around the Christmas and New Years holiday. This holiday is broken up into two blocks of time (3-4 days) and you will have time off around one of the holidays. If you have a preference for one or the other holiday, please inform the program faculty and email to the project coordinator.
    • Time off for all other holidays is determined on an individual basis and will take into account service/unit needs. 
    • If there is a particular holiday you wish to request off, please inform program faculty by email by immediately. We will make every attempt to accommodate you.
  • Unplanned Absences: Unplanned absences should be kept to a minimum and should be used only for emergencies.   If you are not able to make it to work or will be unexpectedly late, it is your responsibility to notify the program director and the chief resident on your service as soon as possible. The information must be relayed via direct conversation -- emails are not sufficient, and text pages must be acknowledged.  The program requires that you not pre-schedule at least four days of your PTO. These days can then be used for sick time throughout the year. 
  • July vacation: In order to support services and meet coverage needs, vacation time requests are extremely limited during the last week of June and throughout July. 

Continuing Medical Education (CME):

Throughout this year, you will have access to gaining more than 50 Category I CME credits through The Johns Hopkins Hospital.  It is your responsibility to sign-in/swipe-in at each and every conference you attend at Johns Hopkins. Your certificate noting the number of CME Category I credits will be available to you via at the end of each academic year (August-September).  You may also call the CME office at 53168 if you have any questions.  The residency staff is not able to assist you with hospital CME certificates.

Each year, an application for Category I CME is submitted to AAPA for the residency program’s lecture series. If approved, then a maximum of 50 hours of Category I CME credits by the Physician Assistant Review Panel will be awarded at the conclusion of the program. Physician assistants should claim only those hours actually spent participating in the CME activity. This program was planned in accordance with AAPA’s CME Standards for Live Programs and for Commercial Support of Live Programs. You must sign in to each lecture in order to receive the CME credit.  

Stipend and Benefits:

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Surgery Postgraduate Surgical Residency for physician assistants will be a 12-month employment contract. The stipend is $58,589 with twenty-two days of personal time off (PTO) to be used as vacation or sick time. As a hospital employee, you will be eligible for many benefits. Visit the Johns Hopkins Hospital human resources website for benefits information. A minimum of fifty category I and II credits will be available at no cost through various academic requirements during the residency.

For Additional information about working at Johns Hopkins, please see the employee handbook.