Plastic Surgery

Program Overview

Spectrum Health/Michigan State University Graduate Medical Education (GME) is the clinical and academic leader driving the future of health care and education in Grand Rapids and throughout the region. MSU-CHM is the plastic surgery residency’s academic affiliation. All plastic surgery faculty members hold academic appointments in MSU-CHM, and residents are recognized as MSU resident clinical educators.

We are unique in that while affiliated with a large medical school, our program is not part of a hierarchical academic department. It is through this relationship that we are able to offer the very best of a busy community-based clinical program as well as the academic opportunities of a university. This is best demonstrated by our resident’s early and extensive operative experience with multiple community faculty members who have diverse training backgrounds, thus offering a full spectrum of plastic surgery experience. Our residents graduate with operative numbers and a diversity of surgical procedures that rival or exceed nearly all programs in the United States.

Our affiliation with MSU-CHM and the academic commitment of our faculty, have allowed our program to develop a robust research tradition. Our faculty are leaders in education and research nationally and internationally, and along with our residents, have published and presented many articles, book chapters, and textbooks of plastic surgery.

Grand Rapids, Michigan is recognized as one of the early major centers of plastic surgery in the United States. Ferris Smith, MD, one of the founding fathers of The American Association of Plastic Surgery, began training plastic surgery residents using the preceptorship model in 1920. Many surgeons that trained in Grand Rapids went on to establish  training programs both nationally and internationally, including Wallace Steffensen, MD, Sam Nordhoff, MD, and Reed Dingman, MD. Our graduates have and are training other plastic surgeons around the USA and internationally in Toronto and Taiwan.  Many of our graduates were and are luminaries of Plastic Surgery and have served as leaders or developers of the ASPS (Steffensen, Dingman, Steven Lewis, MD, Frederick McCoy, MD). The American Association of Plastic Surgeons (Ferris Smith MD), The Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation (Clarence Straatsma MD) and the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  Six of our graduates have received honorary citations from the ASPS (Smith, Straatsma, Dingman, James Mills, MD, Mark Gorney, MD, and Ralph Blocksma MD).

The preceptorship model was used in Grand Rapids for plastic surgery training until 1963. At that time, the Blodgett Memorial Hospital Plastic Surgery Residency was founded and was one of only 53 residency programs and 12 preceptorships listed and approved by the Residency Review Committee for Plastic Surgery. The first graduate of the residency program was Sam Noordhoff, MD, who went on to develop one of the largest hospitals and plastic surgery training programs in Taipai, Taiwan and has trained generations of Plastic Surgeons in the art of cleft lip and palate repair.

Recent graduates continue to excel and are nationally and internationally recognized for their innovative techniques and educational prowess.  Dennis Hammond MD, the developer of the SPAIR technique for breast reduction, is an international speaker and educator on breast surgery, has published numerous articles and textbooks on breast surgery, and has chaired the Breast and Body Contouring Symposium in Sante Fe, NM for a number of years. He serves as a faculty member and Associate Program Director of the Plastic Surgery Residency.  David Fisher MD is a faculty member at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital and has developed the Fisher repair for cleft lips based on the anatomic subunit principle.

The program has been incredibly stable throughout its history. In March 2009, Ronald D. Ford, MD was appointed as only the fourth Program Director in the last 52 years of the program. In May 2011, we received ACGME approval for our integrated plastic surgery residency, one of only two in the entire state of Michigan. Applicants are recruited and matched directly from medical schools into our integrated residency, and successful completion of our six-year program qualifies a resident for examination by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. Our integrated program has full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Goals & Philosophies

We offer an environment of collegiality with rigorous academic pursuit and a demand for excellence for all of our residents. We believe the best way to learn plastic surgery is through a combination of early and extensive operative experience, coupled with a robust didactic curriculum and emphasis on research, fostering a tradition of inquiry. Our mission is to educate and train qualified plastic surgeons who possess sound fundamental knowledge of anatomy and surgery, are competent in their specialty, capable of making sound surgical decisions, and fully prepared to become certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Program Highlights

Residents in our program work in efficient hospital systems, thus minimizing service needs and maximizing resident education experience. This has resulted in outstanding plastic surgery in-service scores and board pass rates. Our residents also routinely secure exceptional postgraduate fellowships at such esteemed institutions as the Cleveland Clinic and Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat for cosmetic surgery; microsurgery fellowships at The Mayo Clinic and Buncke Clinic in San Francisco; as well as hand surgery fellowships at Green’s San Antonio program, University of Southern California, University of New Mexico, and the Medical College of Wisconsin. In addition, our residents have completed fellowships at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital in pediatric craniofacial surgery, as well as at Northwestern University in craniofacial reconstruction. Our residents excel in these fellowships, demonstrating the effectiveness of our curriculum and their early and extensive operative experience.

Our program faculty act as clinical coordinators and mentors to residents in their offices, in surgery, and during conferences. Our education atmosphere fosters a personal, yet team-oriented learning experience where residents are respected and appreciated. We believe that the Spectrum Health/Michigan State University Plastic Surgery Residency is one of the most unique and exciting training programs in the nation. We combine academic excellence and early and extensive operative experience in a broad range of plastic surgery subspecialties including cosmetic surgery, reconstruction, burn surgery, microsurgery, hand surgery, oculoplastic surgery, pediatric plastic surgery, and dermatologic surgery.

Diversity and Resident Wellness

Spectrum Health is committed to creating a healthy work environment which promotes wellness and a culture that is respectful, inclusive and positive .  Please visit the Spectrum Health Resident Wellness page and the Spectrum Health Diversity page to learn more.

Ready to Apply?

All applications are accepted through ERAS. Please see the For Applicants section of your preferred program for additional details.

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