Walter Mill Award of Excellence in Surgery

Annual Deadline

Annually on March 15


Apply here

Letter of Recommendation

Letter of recommendation from a surgeon in the field of the student’s interest, to be uploaded by recommender.  Upload letter of recommendation here.


The Walter C. Mill Award of Excellence in Surgery was established by the Department of Osteopathic Surgical Specialties in honor of Dr. Walter C. Mill, who became a general surgeon in 1951.  After 27 years of service as a general surgeon in Denver, Colorado, he came to MSU to serve as Chairperson of the Department of Osteopathic Surgical Specialties.  He stepped down in 1985 as Chairperson of the department to become a Fulbright Senior Scholar and visiting professor of surgery in Nigeria. He was also appointed Medical Director for Michigan/Belize Partners (now Partners of the Americas) in 1991-1992, a collaborative to develop medical care in Central America.  Dr. Mill retired from MSU in 1992.

Applicant Requirements

Fourth year medical student in the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, in good standing.

Med student must have applied for a residency in any of the surgical specialties, including but not limited to: anesthesiology, general surgery, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology, orthopedics, and urology.

Application Requirements

Self-nominations are encouraged.

Current CV (PDF) Essay (approx. 500 words; PDF): Why do you wish to pursue your surgical specialty?  How do you hope to embody excellence in surgery?  Letter of recommendation from a surgeon in the field of the student’s interest, to be uploaded by recommender here.

Advice from MSUCOM Recipients

Kelsey R. Lawrence, D.O., MBS (2021)
Anesthesiology Residency at Case Western Reserve University Hospitals, Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio
My advice for MSUCOM students pursuing surgery/anesthesiology as a specialty is to take your education into your own hands. I spent a lot of time outside rotations (before and after my scheduled work hours) seeking out opportunities to intubate, watch nerve blocks, and practice my technical skills. Many residents are so busy that they don’t have as much time to teach as they would like. Success won’t be handed to you; you must sometimes make it for yourself. Also, never be afraid to ask questions, even if you might think they are stupid. Your role as a student is to learn and take advantage of the time you have where your full time job is to learn.

Angela Niezgoda, D.O. (2020)
Obstetrics and Gynecology at Providence in Novi/Southfield, Michigan
Strive hard to learn as much as you can in any specialty you rotate through. When you find what you love, network as much as you can and try to integrate yourself into the field to see if it’s the best fit for you. You won’t regret it.

Elise Yoon, D.O. (2019)
Neurosurgery residency at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield/Novi, Michigan
Try to shadow/experience as many specialties as possible early on to understand what you are passionate about and would enjoy doing.

Peter Liu, D.O. (2015)
Urology with Lansing Institute of Urology in Lansing, Michigan
1. Always be prepared and don’t procrastinate.  2. Make time for yourself, your friends, and your family.  3. Keep an open mind when it comes ot picking a specialty.  As much as medicine can be a calling, it is still a job.  The right choice will be something you can enjoy for a long time and something that will fit with your priorities outside of work.

Dan Mesko, D.O. (2012)
Orthopedic Surgery with Adult Reconstruction Subspeciality in Lansing, Michigan
Find a specialty that makes you excited to get up and take care of patients.  Once you have identified what field that is, there is a tremendous amount of self-learning and drive that needs to be put in to broaden your knowledge base as much as you can and make you as competitive as possible.  Seek out opportunities to get firsthand exposure to the fields that interest you.  Lastly, choose a specialty that YOU love being a part of, not one simply because you liked a rotation / the specific attending / hospital etc. Patient care is a team effort and developing a broad knowledge base and network in all specialties helps optimize taking care of patients from as broad a scope as possible.  Lastly, be mindful of managing your time, setting aside time to enjoy your time in training / friends / family / God / hobbies / etc.  It goes by very fast, and the demands only speed up once in practice, and time management is even more crucial.


Phone:  (517) 353-8470