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Vascular Surgery

"Vascular surgery involves the arteries and veins of the entire body, from the neck to the distal extremities. Surgical procedures include carotid endarterectomies, arte­riovenous fistulas, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repairs, bypass procedures to revascularize threatened extremities, angiographic procedures, amputations for ischemia, repair of pseudoaneurysms, and repair of any type of disruption of blood vessels. Vascular surgery is now characterized by procedures including endovas­cular AAA repairs, carotid stent grafting, peripheral endovascular therapies, and advances in vascular technology and research. There is an increasing demand for vascular surgeons given the aging population with vascular diseases. Due to the fact that the vascular disease process is not limited to specific parts of the body, patients often have heart, pulmonary, and comorbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and increased cholesterol. Therefore, these patients are very sick and high-risk operative candidates. Vascular surgeons are skilled operators who operate despite dangerous conditions in hopes of improving the lives of their debilitated patients. The fellowship is 2 years in length. If you are confident in pursuing a vascular surgery career, you may want to consider applying to several integrated vascular surgery residencies that now exist. They are 5 years in length and the first 2 years cover core general surgery rotations. The last 3 years are dedicated to vascular surgery training."

— Freeman, B. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Medical Specialty. 3rd Ed. Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill: New York. p. 235.

M1 and M2 Students

 What advice would you offer first- and second-year students who are interested in pursuing your specialty?

Meet with a vascular surgeon early in medical school to find out what the specialty is all about. Spend one to three days shadowing a vascular surgeon.

 How important is a research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

Some form of research, not necessarily directed on the specialty, helps prospective applicants stand out from the rest of the applicants and demonstrates a level of academic interest.

M3 and M4 Students

 What M4 electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?

A vascular surgery rotation at the parent institution.

 Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?


 If your specialty recommends doing away rotations, how many "aways" do you recommend?

One to two away rotations to get a good idea of the different training paradigms.

 If away rotations are necessary, when should they be completed?

Early, prior to interviewing for the residency position.

 Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?

November to December.

 Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?

At least one letter should be from a vascular surgeon.

 If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?

Any surgical letters of recommendations, but obviously those from vascular surgeons or department chairs carry the most weight.

 Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?


 Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?


 Overall Recommendations

This is a highly competitive field, so strong letters and outside activities (i.e., research, teaching) are strongly encouraged.

Request a Vascular Surgery Adviser


Mark Eskandari, MD
Cheif, Division of Surgery-Vascular
View Profile

For More Information

Department of Surgery Administration
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
251 E. Huron St., Galter 3-150
Chicago, IL 60611-2950
Phone: 312-695-1920