Trainee Profile Spotlight Valery Vilchez, MD General Surgery Resident, Cleveland Clinic Colorectal Surgery Fellowship, University of California, Irvine What made you interested in a career in colorectal surgery? Colorectal Surgery always felt like home within the surgical field. As a General Surgery Resident I have been exposed to phenomenal mentors that have taught me the wonders of this specialty. The complexity and variety of the diseases and procedures have a magic combination. What piece of advice would you give a general surgery resident interested in colorectal surgery? Get involved with co-residents and mentors interested in the field. Read and study the disease processes. Spend time in the operating room in different settings. Most importantly, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you can wake up every morning and treat the colorectal patient population giving all you have every single day of your career. What made you unique as an applicant? Everyone is unique as an applicant. One piece of advice I would give to anyone interested in the field is to find the specific characteristic that makes you an outstanding physician and surgeon and use it as your signature. Look for the program and mentors that will bring the best out of you every single day. Who did you ask for letters of recommendation, and why did you pick them? Ask for letters from the mentors who know you out and inside the operating room. Those that know your weakness but know that you can overcome any of them. I personally had LORs from my PD, the Chair of the Colorectal Department, the PD of the Colorectal Fellowship and two of my mentors within the department. I have worked closely with these mentors and it was easy for them to support my application. It is important to have LORs from your PD but also from Colorectal Surgeons within your institution who can vouch for your hard work during residency.