General Surgery Residency Program - Iowa Methodist Medical Center

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Message from the Program Director

Dietzenbach-Jeff_headshot.jpgWelcome to the Iowa Methodist Medical Center General Surgery Residency Program. Our fully accredited five-year residency training program is one of the premier community hospital-based residency programs available.

The Iowa Methodist Medical Center general surgery program offers the unique blend of a large tertiary care center, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a high-volume outpatient surgery center, a pediatric hospital and an active county hospital. This mix provides a variety of patient care opportunities as well as a diverse faculty committed to teaching and academic excellence.

Our residency program prides itself on early operative exposure, progressive resident autonomy, and flexibility tailored to meet individual career goals. Additionally, our values of caring, respect, integrity and commitment to excellence in patient care and teaching are incorporated into everything we do.

We invite you to consider the opportunities offered by Iowa Methodist Medical Center and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you further about our residency. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

Jeffrey J. Dietzenbach, MD, FACS
Program Director

About Our Program

The General Surgery Residency Program offers extensive and early operative experience and training, with graduating residents almost always exceeding the required number of cases in all categories. Residents receive extensive training in trauma surgery, with Iowa Methodist Medical Center being certified as a Level I Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons. The program also offers comprehensive training in laparoscopic and robotic surgery, including advanced minimally invasive procedures.

Over the course of five years, a resident will perform about 1,000 surgical procedures, including 200 major procedures during the chief year. The following is an average of the major procedures for our graduates from the past three years.

Procedure Averages at Iowa Methodist Medical Center


2021-2022 2022-2023

ABS Requirements

Skin, Soft Tissue, Breast 181 176 137 65
Head & Neck 52 41 41 25
Alimentary Tract 297 303 304 180
Abdomen 375 344 315 250
Liver 8 11 6 5
Pancreas 7 5 6 5
Vascular 115 108 91 50
Endocrine 19 18 17 15
Trauma Operative 23 24 18 10
Trauma Non-Operative 53 52 61 40
Thoracic 21 23  24 20
Pediatrics 27 39  25 20
Plastics 16 21 16 10
Laparoscopic – Basic 222 225  206 100
Laparoscopic – Complex 134 143 133 75
Endoscopic 159 165 216 85
Total Major Operations 1059 1026 945 850
Total as Chief Residents 265 253 309 200
Total as Teaching Assistant 48 36 47 25

Surgery Residency at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines

Training Facilities

The General Surgery Residency Program provides care for patients at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Blank Children's Hospital, Methodist West Hospital, Broadlawns Medical Center, VA Medical Center of Central Iowa and Lakeview Surgery Center.

This unique combination of training opportunities provides diversity in patient demographics where you can develop strong surgical and clinical skills in an environment where both common and unusual surgical intervention is seen.

Key Faculty

Current Residents


All general surgery residents receive BLS, ACLS, ATLS and ATLS instructor within the first year. All residents are also FLS and FES certified during the second or third year of residency.

  • Emergency Surgery Service/NF (2 months)
  • Trauma Surgery (3 months)
  • Vascular Surgery (2 months)
  • General Surgery (2 months)
  • Colorectal Surgery (2 months)
  • Surgical Oncology/Transplant (1 month)
  • Trauma Surgery (3 months)
  • VA Medical Center (3 months)
  • Vascular Surgery (1 month)
  • Emergency Surgery Service/NF (1 month)
  • Surgical Oncology/Transplant (2 Months)
  • General Surgery (1 month)
  • Colorectal Surgery (1 month)
  • Broadlawns Medical Center (3 months)
  • Pediatric Surgery/Plastic Surgery (3 months)
  • CT Surgery (1 month)
  • Methodist West Hospital/Lakeview (1 month)
  • Emergency Surgery Service/NF (2 months)
  • Elective (1 month)
  • Research (1 month)
  • VA Medical Center (3 months)
  • Vascular Surgery (2 months)
  • General Surgery (1 month)
  • Surgical Oncology/Transplant (2 months)
  • Bariatric/Robotic Surgery (1 month)
  • Methodist West (1 month)
  • Colorectal Surgery (2 months)
  • Broadlawns Medical Center (3 months)
  • Vascular Surgery (1 month)
  • Methodist West (1 month)
  • Chief Surgery (3 months)
  • Surgical Oncology/Transplant (1 month)
  • Colorectal (1 month)
  • General Surgery (2 months)
Preliminary Year in Surgery
  • General Surgery (1 month)
  • Emergency Surgery Service/NF (2 months)
  • Trauma (3 months)
  • Vascular (2 month)
  • Surgical Oncology/Transplant (1 month)
  • Colorectal (1 month)
  • Elective (2 months)

Options for Elective Rotations:

  • Radiology or Radiology Oncology
  • Adult ER or Pediatric ER
  • Cardiology
  • Anesthesia
  • Outpatient Surgery
  • Hematology or Pediatric Hematology
  • Research
  • Medical Consultation Service
  • Rural Surgery
  • Medical ICU
  • Urology
  • Neurology
  • OB/GYN or Gynecology Oncology
  • Orthopedics

The didactic curriculum in general surgery is covered once a week in a two-hour afternoon conference. Both basic and clinical surgical topics are addressed, with residents and faculty participating in presentations.

Other conferences include morbidity and mortality conference, grand rounds, chief rounds, complex case presentations, journal club, decisions conference, techniques and triumphs conference, liver conference, tumor board and trauma videos.

Skills Lab

Residents and students work with faculty surgeons on a variety of surgical skills including suturing, intestinal anastomosis, vascular access/central line insertion, robotics, vascular anastomosis, chest tube insertion, airway management and patient care simulation using a SimMan mannequin.




Effective Academic Year 2023 - 2024:

PGY1- $65,985

PGY2- $67,204

PGY3- $69,038

PGY4- $71,475

PGY5- $74,526

Transition Allowance
$750 relocation allowance is given to all incoming residents.


Health Insurance
Health Insurance: Residents may choose from two health insurance plans that best suit their individual needs. Learn more about at: Benefits

Our residents get access to UnityPoint Health retirement 401k & financial planning.

Life Insurance
The program provides group life insurance equal to the resident's annual stipend at no charge to the resident.

Resident Liability Coverage
General and professional liability coverage is provided for residents enrolled in the residency program through a combination of commercial insurance and self-insured retention. Coverages are no less than $1,000,000 per occurrence and $5,000,000 aggregate per policy year.

Short & Long-Term Disability Coverage
Short and long-term disability coverage is provided to residents. Short-term disability coverage (STD) is used when the resident is away from work for at least seven (7) days due to a non-work-related illness or injury. STD pays 60% of weekly earnings for a maximum of 26 weeks with no waiting period. Long-term disability insurance coverage ensures that residents will receive a minimum of 70% of their monthly salary if they are disabled due to illness or accident, on or off the job, following a 90-day qualifying period.

All residents receive 20 days of paid vacation per year.


Residents are allocated $4,000 total over the period of five years that can be used to purchase textbooks, educational or approved medical meetings.


  • Basic Surgical Texts
  • Marino ICU Book
  • Fiser ABSITE Question Manual
  • Fiser ABSITE Review Manual
  • Online Hardin Library Access

Online Curriculums

  • FSC (ASC Fundamentals of Surgery Curriculum)
  • SCORE (Surgical Council on Residency Education)
  • TrueLearn (Question Bank)

Training & Certifications

  • ATOM and ASSET Courses
  • Free Parking: All residents may park in a reserved area of the hospital parking facility at no charge.
  • Meal Stipends: A fixed monthly allowance is provided to residents for meals in the medical center cafeteria.
  • Paid Licensure: Fees for all licenses required by the residency program are paid by the program.
  • Lab Coats: Two free lab coats are provided to all first-year residents.
  • Free Fitness Center on premises
  • Day care services on premises
  • Employee Assistance Center
  • ACS Resident Society Membership Benefit
  • IMS Membership

Application Process

Residents are selected through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®), a program of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Applications are reviewed after all the required information has been received. Our selection process is based upon multiple factors, including general academic performance, clinical performance, letters of recommendation, personal qualities and achievements. The general surgery residency program at Iowa Methodist Medical Center accepts applications from October through January.

The selection committee reviews all material and interviews a select group of qualified applicants to fill the four categorical and two preliminary positions. The interview season typically begins in mid-November and concludes in mid-January.
  • Three letters of recommendation from U.S. physicians and at least two from surgeons
  • Dean's Letter
  • Medical School Transcript
  • Personal Statement
  • Results of standardized tests: USMLE; and all in-service exams
  • Pass Step 1&2 on the first attempt and a score of 200 or greater
  • If from a non-US/Canadian school:
    • All applicants must match within 2 years of graduating from medical school
    • Must have one year of clinical experience in the U.S.
    • We will accept J1 Visa only

Individual exceptions may be made based on the strength of application after review by the Program Director.

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Applications to our residency programs are only accepted through ERAS®.
Apply through ERAS®

Our Graduates

The success of any training program is reflected by the success of its graduates. Our graduates have consistently maintained a high pass rate on the American Board of Surgery qualifying (written) and certifying (oral) examinations. The most recent five-year cumulative pass rate for our graduates is 100%, with all graduates passing written boards on the first attempt.

Approximately 2/3 of our graduates enter a career in broad-based general surgery in both rural settings and larger cities. The remaining 1/3 are successful at matching into competitive fellowship positions to prepare for sub-specialty careers.

Class of 2023

  General Surgery Practice Ames, IA
  General Surgery Practice St. Paul, MN
  Fellowship Colorectal Fellowship - Omaha, NE
  Fellowship  Colorectal Fellowship - Greenville, SC
Class of 2022
  General Surgery Practice Orange City, IA
  General Surgery Practice Ames, IA
  Fellowship Breast Fellowship — Memphis, TN
  Fellowship Surgical Critical Care Fellowship — Roanoke, VA

Class of 2021

  General Surgery Practice Dubuque, IA
  General Surgery Practice Mitchell, SD
  Fellowship Breast Fellowship — Cleveland, OH
  Fellowship Vascular Fellowship — Norfolk, VA

Class of 2020

  General Surgery Practice Des Moines, IA
  General Surgery Practice Des Moines, IA
  General Surgery Practice Missoula, MT
  General Surgery Practice Monroe, WI

Class of 2019

  General Surgery Practice Sioux City, IA
  General Surgery Practice Des Moines, IA
  Fellowship Colorectal Fellowship — New Orleans, IA

Class of 2018

  General Surgery Practice
Dubuque, IA
  General Surgery Practice Cloquet, MN
  General Surgery Practice Rapid City, SD
  Fellowship Cardiothoracic Fellowship — Baltimore, MD

Annual Conference

2024 Throckmorton Alumni Conference is May 3, 2024
Topic: “Complex Complications”

Contact Us

General Surgery Residency Program
UnityPoint Health – Des Moines 
1415 Woodland Ave, Suite 140
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

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Christa Richards
Surgery Resident Coordinator
(515) 241-4078