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Vascular Surgery

Melissa L. Kirkwood, M.D.

Professor of Surgery, Chief of Vascular Surgery
Department of Surgery (Preferred method of contact)

Melissa Kirkwood, M.D.

About the Specialty

Vascular Surgery is the specialty that treats patients’ arteries and veins. We operate in all areas of the body, ex) carotid disease in the neck, thoracic aneurysms in the chest, abdominal aneurysms, peripheral vascular disease in the legs. We treat pediatric patients as well as teens, adults and seniors. Fifty percent of our cases are open surgical cases and 50% are minimally invasive endovascular surgeries. Our specialty is a very high intensity, demanding job but it is extremely rewarding.

Answers to Common Questions

  • Attributes of a Competitive Student

    What factors typically make a student competitive for this specialty?

    Good standardized test scores and good LORs.

  • Research

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

    Research experience is important for successfully matching in vascular surgery.

  • Shadowing

    How can students identify opportunities for shadowing?

    Contact the Student Interest Group student leaders for information on shadowing.

  • Electives

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

    Vascular surgery elective.

    Based on your experience, what tips do you have for students to shine on your electives?

    Having a positive, can-do attitude. Staying involved and prepared. Helping the team.

  • Away Rotations

    Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?


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


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


  • Interview Timing

    Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?


  • Letters of Recommendation

    How many letters of recommendation are needed to apply to your specialty?


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


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

    General surgery.

    Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?

    No it doesn’t.

    Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?



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