Cardiothoracic surgeons provide care for patients with diseases within the chest. Commonly treated conditions include coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, heart failure, aortic aneurysms, cancers of the lung/esophagus/mediastinum, and congenital heart anomalies.
Those interested in cardiothoracic surgery should:
Want an intellectually challenging career with a focus in cardiopulmonary physiology, oncology, and critical care
Enjoy working with your hands
Are interested in an evolving field with new technology
Possess leadership qualities and enjoy working as a team
What is training like
There are three primary pathways:
Traditional - 5 years of general surgery + 2-3 years of cardiothoracic surgery (1 spot/year at IU)
Integrated - 6 years of cardiothoracic surgery
(1 spot/year at IU)
Fast-Track - 4 years of general surgery + 3 years of cardiothoracic surgery, all at one institution
(not available at IU)
What makes one competitive?
High academic achievement: USMLE step scores (generally >240), Honors in surgery and most other clerkships, AOA membership, strong letters of recommendation
Research experience, involvement/leadership in student interest groups and professional organizations
Subspecialty training available after completion of cardiothoracic surgery residency: During a cardiothoracic surgery residency, trainees can select a thoracic or cardiac track. After residency, trainees can further subspecialize through fellowships in heart failure, transplant, aortic, transcatheter therapies, congenital, etc.