Southern Illinois University

Research Time: 1mo during PGY1. Robin Zorn Phone: 217.545.3262 E-mail:

State Code: 
Faculty Survey Results: 

Southern Illinois University Program - Tobias Steen Köhler, MD, MPH, Residency Program Director

Attach to Residency Program: 
Southern Illinois University
Survey Respondent: 
Tobias Steen Köhler, MD, MPH, Residency Program Director
If you were an applicant, why would you choose to train in your residency program?: 
SIU Urology’s mission is to be the best urology training program in the country. The goals and values of the next generation’s urologists differ from previous generations and this is occurring in a situation of greater regulatory oversite. Our program has focused on maximizing learning while at work to easily meet ACGME duty hour restrictions. Our program was recently accredited for the maximum 5 year cycle (through 06/2015) with zero citations and two commendations. Our residents are happy, averaging 62 hours a week in a truly collegial work environment. Case volume is excellent with graduating chief’s operative volume from the last 3 years averaging 82% for adult urology, 77% for pediatric urology, and 83% for total cases. Operative experience is split between two successful, private hospitals in close proximity (1 mile) with staff coverage for all urologic sub-specialties. Seven of our 10 residents scored > 90th percentile rank on last year’s urology in-service examination. Our residents average 1-2 pub-med cited publications per year. We have equal numbers of graduates go on to private practice and highly competitive fellowships. Our program’s success stems from several factors. The staff and residents are quite close, and we encourage even our youngest residents to question staff on why they do things the way that they do. Our academic schedule is extremely rigorous, with every Wednesday including mandatory participation of urology staff and residents (including surgery year GU interns) from 8 am until 12:30 pm. SIU is a national leader in surgical education which involves frequent use of surgical skills labs and simulation. The financial success of our two hospitals allows for generous support for these facilities, as well as 2 Davinci systems (one dual counsel robot), and competitive resident salaries and benefits (loupes, books, meeting travel funding etc.) even in tight financial times. Perhaps most importantly, all attending staff that join SIU come with the understanding that resident education rivals patient care in level of importance. Springfield, Illinois is a great place to live, especially for families, with an extremely low cost of living that affords most residents the ability to own their own homes.
What is your program looking for in a graduating medical student?: 
SIU Urology highly values well rounded, amiable, and industrious individuals that have evidence of outstanding professionalism.
What part of an application do you consider most important in ranking applicants?: 
We feel very fortunate to have the current group of residents we have. A focus on professionalism and how well we feel someone would fit into our program after interview carries the most weight. Personal statement, letters of recommendation, completed research projects, board scores, clerkship grades, and extracurricular activities are all considered in granting interviews.
What advice do you have for medical students hoping to match in Urology?: 
Urology continues to be extremely competitive, so an applicant and her/his advisor must have realistic expectations. Most institutions utilize board score and clerkship grade cut points to help narrow the field. It is essential to excel in other areas if these are suspect. The number of interviews one is granted is a strong predictor of matching. While on the interview trail, take careful notes that day, programs will blend together. Although you will likely get great training from the majority of residency programs, get a sense of resident and staff happiness at that institution – could you picture yourself there? Pay attention to how much time you have to speak privately with the residents. Most urology programs allow their residents and ancillary staff to have veto power. Ask for real data to support program’s claims of high case volume etc. Good luck!


In the middle of nowhere, but reasonable driving distance to St Louis or Chicago.

Chairman has a huge focus on education and is very interested in developing better ways to train residents. They do a lot of labs and a lot of learning on their own time, but the chairman is trying to move to 40 hours a week in the hospital. The residents were very interested in the married/child status of applicants (very family friendly), although a few of them mentioned that their spouses had a hard time adjusting to life in Springfield.