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General Surgery Residency: Program History

This section is dedicated to the memory of the founding program director, Euta M. Colvin, MD (1918 - 2000). The Spartanburg Regional Board of Trustees named the program "The Euta M. Colvin General Surgical Residency" on January 18, 1995. His portrait stands outside our administrative offices watching over the men and women who are part of his legacy.

Formation of a Residency Program

The formation of our program is excerpted from Dr. Colvin's own words:

"I realized what a benefit my additional training had been to me and I had always strived to be the best that I could be. Therefore, I had a strong interest in imparting my surgical knowledge to the aspiring young surgeons to be the best they could be and I feel strongly that we have accomplished this goal.

We contacted the surgical residency office in Chicago and submitted an application. However, we were discouraged and led to believe that a small hospital such as ours could not and probably should not support a residency program. (We) contacted the members of the National Residency Review Committee however and wherever we could reach them … We would find out where they were staying in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Chicago.

We were met with considerable skepticism and questions such as “Why would you want to start a program such as this in a small town like Spartanburg?” Our answer was that we had a nucleus of well-trained and American Board of Surgery-certified surgeons practicing in the area, and we felt that a certified general surgery residency would be of educational value to each of us and would improve surgical care in our town.

Eventually we convinced the officials that we were sincere, and they approved us for a three-year program … After three years here the residents would receive two or three additional training in another institution.”

Early Years

D.C. Hull, MD became the first Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) resident in 1957, completing his training at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Hull returned to Spartanburg and practiced surgical oncology and general surgery until his retirement in 2002. Following his retirement, Gibbs Cancer Center honored him for his years of service as the Director of the Tumor Board. Dr. Hull will always be remembered for his kindness and intellectual curiosity as well as his impeccable surgical skills (and for giving several residents their initial aviation lesson in his airplane).

By the mid-sixties, the program was self-sustaining, with the senior residents working with a local board-certified surgeon in a preceptor model. Dr. Bill Morris was the first resident to complete training in this new mode (1969). He remained in the group founded by Dr. Colvin until his retirement in 2005.

A strong affiliation was established between the Medical University of South Carolina’s chairman, Curtis Artz, MD, and the residency at SRHS.

Dr. Colvin: (Dr. Artz) called the residency committee chairman in Chicago and had me listen in on another telephone. The residency committee chairman told Dr. Artz ”That fellow Colvin in Spartanburg was about to run him crazy” trying to get full approval for his surgery program. Dr. Artz’s comment was, “Give him the approval he wants and deserves.” It was not long before we received the full approval that we had wait more than 30 years for.

Middle Years

By the mid-1970s, the program had expanded to its current structure of two graduating chief residents per year. The requirement for preceptor training had been lifted. The late 70s and early 80s represents one of the strongest periods in the program’s history. During this time, 19 consecutive graduates passed their written boards on their initial try. Jimmy Green, MD, a graduate of the surgical residency at MUSC was appointed chairman for the department of surgery in 1981.

John Bottsford, MD, completed the Spartanburg Regional residency in 1976 and was one of the first formal program directors. After a brief hiatus to further his vascular training, he was director from 1980 until 1987. Dr. Colvin was reappointed program director until his promotion to emeritus status in 1995.

Recent Years

Spartanburg Regional has developed into a true regional health system. Building campaigns included the Regional Outpatient Center, Gibbs Cancer Center, Pelham Medical Center, the Emergency Center and the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health. Changes in medical care and residency training emphasis prompted some major changes in the residency program, as well.

Sid Steinberg, MD, became program chair in 1998 and recruited three surgical sub specialists to become full-time teaching faculty, joining faculty member Tom Ashley, MD. Chuck Morrow, MD, a Spartanburg Regional graduate, received additional training in Trauma/ Critical Care and rejoined the faculty. He is now chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs. After completing the initial restructuring, Dr. Steinberg took another position in North Carolina, and Richard Orr, MD, was appointed program director in 2001.

Beginning in 2002, the program made substantial changes in teaching and faculty appointments with the mission of becoming the best community program in the southeastern United States. The program successfully expanded from two to three categorical residents per year and increased emphasis on board pass rates. Kristine Lombardozzi, MD, joined the faculty in 2004 as the second fellowship-trained trauma critical care surgeon. Christophe Nguyen, MD, (surgical oncology, thoracic surgery) and Barry Hird, MD, (breast and general surgery) soon followed.

Since 2006, the two largest private surgical groups have merged with the teaching faculty. As of 2018, the hospital employs 20 surgical faculty members, including fellowship trained surgeons in breast, colorectal, plastic, oncology and trauma/critical care. Additionally, two former residents returned to SRHS following their fellowships to work with the surgical residents on an ongoing basis.

Program directors Drs. Morrow and Hird have successfully continued traditions and further improved the program since 2009. During recent years, several residents have returned to Spartanburg Regional following subspecialty fellowships, further improving the program. For example, the trauma/critical care service, led by program graduate Brian Thurston, MD, has increased our case numbers as well as serving to give senior residents more supervised autonomy while they lead a busy service. Under Dr. Hird's leadership, the program has attained the goal of 100 percent first-time pass rate on the American Board of Surgery qualifying and certifying examinations for the past five years.

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