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General Surgery Program at Tripler Army Medical Center

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The Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) General Surgery Residency Program will provide the best overall training to those mature, professional and dedicated trainees who want to become the future surgical leaders in the U.S. Army and the nation. We will also emphasize the need for the military general surgeon to be capable in all areas of surgery, as our graduates will likely deploy to remote locations in austere conditions during their military career. The combination of clinical caseload (complex and high volume), structured academic program, multitude of research opportunities, and a committed faculty at TAMC will ensure that we achieve our goals.

External Shot of Tripler Army Medical Center

History: Tripler Army Medical Center and the General Surgery Residency

Tripler Army Medical Center was not officially named so until June 26, 1920; however the military hospital of Honolulu has existed since 1898. The Honolulu Red Cross Society provided medical care through the Red Cross Hospital until Major General Merritt of the Army saw the urgent necessity for a military hospital in Hawaii, as he realized Hawaii would quickly become the most important, if not only, location for substantive medical care in the Pacific. In August of 1898 the United States annexed the Hawaiian Islands, creating the U.S. Territory of Hawaii and the new military hospital opened on King Street in a renovated dance pavilion located at Independence Park Pavilion in Honolulu. The hospital was enlarged by field medical tents at Camp McKinley and in Nuuanu Valley. In 1906, Fort Shafter was constructed as the new army post and the hospital was moved to this location in 1907. Fort Shafter Post Hospital became a Base Hospital and then Department Hospital, and was ultimately renamed to Tripler General Hospital in 1920 to honor Charles Stuart Tripler, a surgeon in the U.S. Army who served as Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. He was promoted to brigadier general by President Johnson after his death. Tripler is well known for his published guide for Army recruit examiners, “Manual of the Medical Officer of the Army of the United States”, as well as his four wheeled ambulance wagon design that was used during the Civil War. This design significantly improved transportation for the sick and wounded and often meant the difference between life and death on the battlefield. Plans for the new Tripler had been drawn in 1942 and construction began in 1944 of the “Pink Palace” on the hill we identify with today. The hospital was completed in 1948 and included in its design ways to maximize the therapeutic effects of the tropical, “paradise-like” setting. From the original hospital dance pavilion and the “Old Tripler” at Fort Shafter, Tripler has grown into the vision of the premier health care system in the Pacific Basin.

In 1949, Tripler launched its resident and intern training program. The surgical residency training program at Tripler Army Hospital was accredited on May 24, 1958. The program initially was of four years’ duration, with the opportunity for a fifth year for one outstanding resident. There were three residency slots for each year group and all residents were members of either the Regular Army or Regular Air Force. The program’s basic tenets are unchanged with formal meetings for Tumor Board, Morbidity and Mortality Conference, Grand Rounds, and Patient Care Conference. Residents were expected to develop their ability to teach, operate independently, as well as to participate in research opportunities for presentations and publications throughout each year. Today, the residency program includes 6 years of training, 5 clinical years and 1 year dedicated to research between the 2nd and 3rd clinical years. Each year group has 4 residency slots, as well as a preselect urology intern the first year. Academics are an integral part of our training program with each Wednesday dedicated to education with additional operative practice in our state-of-the-art simulation center. A variety of rotations outside of Tripler supplement our case load and learning opportunities at military and civilian institutions. The general surgery residency training program continues to grow and is quickly becoming the premier surgical training center of the US Army.

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