Dana LaVanture, MD FACSWelcome From the Program Director

Thank you for your interest in our general surgery residency program.  We are proud to offer an excellent pathway for you to become a well-qualified, compassionate, and competent surgeon. 

Robert Packer Hospital was established in 1885 to provide medical services for railroad workers in this rural area.  Dr. Donald Guthrie, a Mayo Clinic-trained physician and surgeon, began our surgical education program in 1923 through an affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine.  Our formal general surgery residency program was established in 1959, remaining continuously accredited, carrying on Dr. Guthrie’s legacy of commitment to the education of future surgeons.

Our tertiary care level 1 adult trauma center located in rural northeast Pennsylvania provides our residents with comprehensive exposure to the full complement of surgical pathology in all levels of care, from basic general surgery to complex surgical oncology.  Our local community is small, but we serve a large population over a wide geographic area in Pennsylvania and New York.   Our patients come from all walks of life--farmers, professors, laborers, students, corporate executives, and more.  And our faculty have varying backgrounds, having trained across the country and around the globe.  Because of our location and our diversity of patients and caregivers, the clinical experience is considerably more extensive in volume and complexity than many general surgery training programs. 

Guthrie’s healthcare system is comprised of five hospitals and numerous outlying clinics.  Residents spend the majority of their time on the main campus of Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA, and rotate to Corning and Cortland hospitals in New York for community general surgery experiences.  Training is provided in all traditional areas of general, vascular, oncologic, colorectal, hepatobiliary, thoracic, acute care and trauma surgery, with training also including advanced laparoscopic surgery, endovascular surgery, surgical ultrasound, and DaVinci robotic procedures.  Transplant and pediatric surgery rotations are completed during the PGY-2 and PGY-3 years at Geisinger Healthcare System in Danville, PA.  Residents may also arrange for individual select rotations at other medical centers to pursue special interests.

Formal didactic teaching and learning occurs on a weekly basis during protected time.  The Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE) Curriculum is used as a guide and is augmented with lectures, question review sessions, and surgical simulation.  Our state-of-the-art skills lab features models and simulators used to teach open, laparoscopic, and endoscopic skills. 

In previous years, many residents went directly into practice after finishing residency.  Although most residents now pursue and match into their desired fellowships such as minimally invasive surgery, trauma/critical care, or surgical oncology, graduating residents are still well prepared and competent to begin practice directly as a general surgeon.

Our residency program is supported by The Donald Guthrie Foundation, a research institute located on campus which offers support for residents to pursue clinical research.  Basic science research can be arranged through our affiliation with the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University.  One- or two-year external basic science research interest is supported and can be pre-arranged. 

Guthrie offers our residents a unique combination of state-of-the-art facilities, high level professional expertise, large case volume, early operative exposure, and individualized attention.  We are proud to say that the training our graduates receive at Guthrie prepares them well for whatever clinical path they may choose.  Comprehensive exposure and experience combined with compassion and excellence are the hallmarks of a Guthrie-trained surgeon.

Dana LaVanture, MD FACS
Program Director
General Surgery Residency

Mission and Aims


The mission of the Guthrie/Robert Packer Hospital's General Surgery Residency is to prepare the next generation of surgeons by promoting innovative, high-quality patient care and to work within the communities we serve and live, by helping individuals attain optimal, life-long health and well-being. We will do so by providing integrated, clinically advanced services that prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, within an environment of compassion, learning, and discovery.


The primary aim of the Guthrie/Robert Packer Hospital's General Surgery Residency is to teach, train and inspire excellence in residents, with care and respect; preparing all to be exemplary surgeons and leaders in their communities.


The Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital General Surgery Residency Program is a comprehensive, five-year program designed to help medical students become competent, board-certified general surgeons who will be prepared to participate in rigorous fellowship programs and enjoy extraordinary careers as surgeons.


  • Patient-Centeredness
  • Teamwork
  • Excellence
  • Professionalism
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Integrity