If you have your heart set on a career as a plastic surgeon, you need to get the best training possible if you want to achieve success in the profession. The five top medical schools for plastic surgeons in the U.S. all offer different specializations, however, so you first need to decide which direction you want to take. Typically, an aspiring plastic surgeon first completes general medical and surgery training, then goes on to specialize in plastic surgery. A few medical schools offer a combined, double-length program designed specifically to produce plastic surgeons.
5 Washington St. Louis
Appearing in fifth place is the medical school at Washington University in St. Louis. This school’s plastic and reconstructive surgery division has a long and illustrious past with a number of innovations to its credit, including advanced head and neck reconstructions for cancer victims and new techniques in nerve transfers. The school offers a six-year integrated plastic surgery residency, during which residents spend 14 months of the initial three years on subspecialties and the balance on general surgery. The second three-year period goes to full-time plastic surgery practice, mostly in Barnes-Jewish hospital and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. If you want to practice at the leading edge of plastic surgery, this is the place to go.
4 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
UNC’s Chapel Hill School of Medicine has with a three-year plastic surgery residency. An independent program, the residency follows the regular three-year general surgery training, although occasionally candidates are accepted without this requirement. The program accepts only two residents per year, so it’s exclusive. After you complete this residency, you’ll be perfectly positioned to branch out into either restorative or cosmetic surgery.
It’s difficult to think of Harvard University in any position other than first place, because globally it’s considered one of the top universities in the world. Its medical school, however, is ranked third in terms of plastic surgery training. That doesn’t make it a bad choice, though. With a plastic surgery residency program that gives aspiring surgeons a chance to rotate among five teaching hospitals, students get the opportunity to practice reconstructive and craniofacial surgery in a clinical environment, as well as learning to perform microsurgery.
2 Johns Hopkins
Known across the country as a top medical training facility, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, ranks in second place with SmartRank. It doesn’t quite offer the six-year stretch that UCSF does, but you can get advanced training in plastic surgery through a three-year independent residency program. Of course, that’s only if you’re already certified in various general surgery disciplines. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for General Medical Education and focuses on burn surgery and aesthetic surgery in addition to the standard disciplines.
1 University of California, San Francisco
With California’s demand for cosmetic surgery, it’s no surprise that the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine is ranked no. 1 in the country by SmartRank, a data-driven comparison website based on public records. The school has one of the oldest plastic surgery residencies, established in 1951. The six-year clinical program includes three years of general surgery training, during which six months are spent on hospital rotations learning oral surgery, hand surgery and orthopedics. The students spend the remaining three years specializing in plastic surgery. Approximately 40 percent of graduates pursue fellowships in hand surgery, microsurgery, craniofacial or cosmetic surgery.
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