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Barbara J. Pettitt, MD, FACS, FAAP

Dr. Pettitt attended Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, completed her General Surgery residency at Los Angeles County – University of Southern California Medical Center and completed a Pediatric Surgery fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She has been a pediatric surgeon at Emory University in Atlanta since 1985, 25 of those as Chief of Pediatric Surgery for the Grady Health System.
She is currently Professor of Surgery and Director of Medical Student Education in the Emory Department of Surgery where she directs the Junior Medical Student Surgery Clerkship, the Senior Surgery Sub-Internship, 16 Senior Surgery Electives, the annual month-long Surgical Anatomy, Embryology and Operative Techniques Course (an intense prep course for senior students going into surgery residencies), the senior student Applicant Prep Program, and the Senior Capstone “Residents as Teachers” module. She is a member of the American College of Surgeons Board of Governors and serves on several ACS national education task forces. She serves on the National Board of Medical Examiners’ Children’s Health Test Material Development and Step 3 Item Review Committees.
She serves on the boards of several Atlanta non-profits as well as her alma mater, Central College in Iowa, sings in a community chorus, is active in her church and enjoys spending time with her children.


  • Surgery
  • Pediatric Surgery

Board Certifications

  • ABMS Surgery


  • Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh


  • Emory

Education & Training

  • Medical School: Northwestern University The Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Internship: University of Southern California (Los Angeles)
  • Residency: LAC-USC Medical Center

Honors & Awards

Association for Surgical Education’s Philip J. Wolfson Outstanding Teacher Award

Association of Women Surgeons’ Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award

Emory University School of Medicine Dean’s Teaching Award

Emory University School of Medicine Evangeline T. Papageorge Award for Distinguished Teaching

Voted Best Clerkship Director by several Emory School of Medicine classes


Pettitt B, 1976: Surgery of the lower extremity in cerebral palsy: Considerations and approaches. Arch Phys Med & Rehab 57: 443-7.

Deck K, Pettitt B, and Harrison M, 1980: The length-time correlate in appendicitis. JAMA 244:806-8.

Pettitt B, Zitelli B, and Rowe M, 1984: Analysis of patients with biliary atresia going to liver transplantation. J Pediatr Surg 19: 779-85.

Heiss KF, Pettit (sic) B, Hirschl RB, Cilley R, Chapman R, and Bartlett R, 1987: Renal insufficiency and volume overload in neonatal ECMO managed by continuous ultrafiltration. ASAIO Trans. 33:557-60.

Ricketts R and Pettitt B, 1989: Management of Hirschsprung’s disease in adolescents. Am Surg 55:219-25.

Brown P, McLendon H, and Pettitt B, 1992: Ovarian torsion in a patient with congenital absence of the uterus. Pediatr Surg Int 7:67-8.

Pettitt B, 1992: Use of a modified Denver shunt in a newborn with intractable ascites. J Pediatr Surg 27:108-9.

Pettitt B and Ricketts, R, 1993: Unusual complications of central venous catheters in two infants with congenital heart disease. Pediatr Surg Int 8:177-9.

Thourani V, Pettitt B, Schmidt J, Cooper W and Rozycki G, 1998: Validation of surgeon-performed emergency abdominal ultrasound in pediatric trauma patients. J Pediatr Surg 33: 322-28.

Rozycki GR, Tremblay L, Feliciano DV, Tchorz K, Hattaway A, Fountain J, Pettitt BJ, 2002. A prospective study for the detection of vascular injury in adult and pediatric patients with cervicothoracic seat belt signs. J Trauma 52:618-23, (discussion 623-24).

Pettitt BJ, 2005. Medical student concerns and fears before their third-year surgical clerkship. Am J Surg 189:492-6.

Howell DL, Goldenberg EA, Huang IP, Pettitt B, Abu-Rajab M, Smith CD, 2005. Generation 80 hours: a randomized prospective trial of proficiency-based training for development of basic surgical skills. (Abst) Presented at the American College of Surgeons Annual Meeting Surgical Forum, 2005. J Am Coll Surg 201(3S): S76.

Wyrzykowski AD, Han E, Pettitt BJ, Styblo TM, Rozycki GS, 2006. A profile of female academic surgeons: training, credentials, and academic success. Am Surg 72: 1153-7, (discussion 1158-9).

Brownfield E, Cruz D, Pettitt B, Goedken J, McDonald W, 2006. The Reporter-Interpreter-Manager-Educator (RIME) method for evaluation of medical students across core clerkships: early experiences and lessons learned. (Abst) Teach Learn Med 18:172.

Shane MD, Pettitt BJ, Morgenthal CB, Smith CD, 2008. Should surgical novices trade their retractors for joysticks? Videogame experience decreases the time needed to acquire surgical skills. Surg Endosc 22: 1294-97.

Levack M, Pettitt B, Winston AD, 2009. Carotid artery thrombosis and delayed stroke in a teenager associated with the use of a shoulder belt. J Pediatr Surg 44: E29-33.

Harper JG, Given KS, Pettitt B, Losken A, 2011. The Independent Plastic Surgery Match: an in-depth analysis of the applicants and process. Ann Plast Surg 66: 568-71.

Leeds IL, Hugar LA, Pettitt BJ, Srinivasan J, Master V, 2013. International surgical clerkship rotation: perceptions and academic performance. Am J Surg 206: 280-86.

Hugar LA, McCullough CM, Quinn ME, Kapadia SM, Pettitt BJ, 2014. Scaling up short-term humanitarian surgery: a global surgery elective for senior medical students. J Surg Educ. 2014 Nov-Dec;71(6):817-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2014.04.011. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Hagopian TM, Hart AM, Vitiello GA, Pettitt BJ, Sweeney JF, 2014. Do medical students in the operating room affect patient care? An analysis of one institution’s experience over the last 5 years. J Surg Educ. 2014 Nov-Dec; 71(6):817-24.

Medbery RL, Coefield R, Patel AD, Pettitt BJ, et al 2014. Endoscopic management of gastrojejunal strictures: one institution’s approach. Accepted for publication, Bariatric Surg Practice & Patient Care, 2014.

Martin BM, Love TP, Srinivasan J, Sharma J, Pettitt B, et al, 2014. Designing an ethics curriculum to support global health experiences in surgery. J Surg Res 187:367-70.

Hagopian T, Vitiello G, Hart A, Perez S, Sweeney J, Pettitt B, 2015. Does the amount of time medical students spend in the operating room during the general surgery core clerkship affect their career decision? Am J Surg. 2015 Mar 28. pii: S0002-9610(15)00127-0. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2014.10.031. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25907851

Mori M, Liao A, Hagopian TM, Perez SD, Pettitt BJ, Sweeney JF, 2015. Medical students impact laparoscopic surgery case time. J Surg Res. 2015 Aug; 197(2): 27-82.

Pettitt B and Rowe M, 1986: Care of the Critically Ill pediatric Surgical Patient. Chapter in Pediatric Surgery (Fourth Edition), edited by Ravitch M et al; Yearbook Medical Publisher, New York.

Wolfson PJ, Poenaru D, Pettitt BJ, Rogers DA, 2007. Pediatric Surgery: Surgical Diseases of Children. Chapter in Lawrence PF, Essentials of the Surgical Specialties. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

Pettitt B, 2009: Groin Masses. Chapter in Mann BD, Surgery: A Competency-Based Companion. Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia.

Pettitt B, 2014. Teaching Residents and Medical Students. Chapter in: Navigating Your Surgical Career: The AWS Guide to Success. Pories SE, Gantt N, Laronga C, Mills D, eds. Association of Women Surgeons, Chicago, Harvard University Press, Boston.

Pettitt B, 2001. Attending the resident in difficulty. Focus on Surgical Education 18(4): 15-18.

Hollands C, Pettitt B, 2005. Volunteer faculty: recruitment and retention as surgical educators. Focus on Surgical Education 22(3): 22-24.

Pettitt B, 2005. Redefining success: can a surgeon work part-time? Association for Women Surgeons Connections.

Pettitt B, 2006. Review of the literature: can a surgeon work part-time? Focus on Surgical Education 23(2): 17-21.

Pettitt B, 2006. United we stand: a workshop to update and organize surgical clerkship directors. Focus on Surgical Education, 23(3): 17.

Whittaker L, Rucinski J, Pettitt B, 2007. The dreaded “comment section”: writing effective narrative comments about your trainees. Focus on Surgical Education, 24 (3).

Pettitt B, 2017. The marginalization of the medical student. General Surgery News, April,2017.