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Message from the Chair

Welcome to the University of California, San Francisco - East Bay Program  

At UCSF-East Bay we practice superb clinical surgery and our residents routinely present manuscripts at local, regional, and national surgical meetings.  Our central focus is surgical resident education.

When Columbus set sail for the New World, his destination on the map was blank - and, some more imaginative cartographers penciled in storms and sea monsters.  The two biggest jumps in any physician's life are from 4th year medical school to internship and from chief residency into the real world.  In both instances, a little like Columbus, you are sailing into unfamiliar territory.  A lot like Columbus you will find these transitions to be stimulating, frightening, gratifying, rewarding and fun.  A lot of the heavy lifting has already been done for you.  The Residency Review Committee (RRC) for Surgery scrutinizes residency programs and, depending upon their comfort level, approves programs for three to five years.  

In 1990, the East Bay Program was formed from a marriage of two large surgical residencies - one based at a large Alameda County Medical Center and the other from the Northern California Kaiser System.  Claude H. Organ, Jr., M.D. presided over the early maturation of our program and masterfully supervised the transition in 2001, from sponsorship by the University of California, Davis to the geographically more accessible University of California, San Francisco.  The previous chair, Dr. Organ, was appropriately recognized for his formidable contributions to American Surgery by his election as President of the American College of Surgeons.  This was really a full-time job.  Thus, in the spring of 2003, Dr. Organ resigned as Chair of the UCSF-East Bay Program. 

On May 1, 2003, Alden H. Harken, M.D. was recruited as Dr. Organ's successor.  Although I loved my two decades at the University of Colorado, I am thoroughly enjoying my position at UCSF - East Bay. Our program is composed of over 50 intelligent, diverse, industrious, heterogeneous and superb surgical residents matched up with an accomplished, accessible and supportive surgical faculty.  We graduate seven chief residents annually.  Acknowledging that almost all surgical interns are, as yet, undifferentiated stem cells, we envision ourselves as training surgeons for both academic/fellowships and/or private practice careers.  Similarly, we offer rotations at a large county hospital, two Veterans Medical Centers,  a comprehensive managed care Kaiser system, the Oakland Children's Hospital and the Calfornia Pacific Medical Center; thus, instead of just hearing about the joys and/or problems associated with surgical practice in various venues, our surgical residents are immersed in rotations representing each of the varieties of surgical endeavors that they are likely to select. 

Surgical research is not for everyone.  And, most surgical interns have not yet figured this out.  We offer an additional two years of surgical research experience.  Our departmental research conference begins at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesdays.  If you would like to see what surgical research is like, drop by at six and stay as long as you can.  Approximately two-thirds of our residents do elect two years in basic investigation.  Surgical interns should focus on clinical surgery at the beginning and gradually evolve into the academic or practice molds.  Don't rush this decision - changing your mind proves that you've got one.

Philosophically, we do not offer any surgical fellowships.  They probably exist, but I have never witnessed a surgical program in which the fellowship did not dilute the experience of the general surgical residents.

The UCSF - East Bay Surgery Program is dedicated to providing the best surgical training anywhere.  


Alden H. Harken, M.D.

Professor of Surgery
Chair, UCSF-East Bay Surgical Residency Program
Chief, Department of Surgery, Alameda Health System, Oakland, CA