Thoracic Surgery Residency

The goal of the residency in Thoracic Surgery is to produce residents who are versed in all contemporary aspects of both cardiac and thoracic surgery.

Residency GoalIt is our goal to produce residents who are versed in all the contemporary aspects of both cardiac and thoracic surgery at the time of completion of the residency. We also intend to be certain that they are equipped by training and experience to commence practice in either or both fields at a sophisticated level.

Residency ExposureResidents are exposed to all areas of cardiac surgery including minimally invasive procedures, off-pump CABG, aortic surgery, arrhythmia surgery, and transplantation. In the Division of Thoracic Surgery, residents experience the full gamut from transplantation, minimally invasive surgery, airway reconstruction and complex esophageal procedures.

Cardiac and Thoracic as Separate Teaching UnitsOne of the unusual aspects of the Massachusetts General Hospital residency program is the separation of cardiac and thoracic surgery as teaching units and in the resident’s periods of assignment to these areas of dual specialty.

There are currently separate nursing units, intensive care units, operating rooms, faculty, and conferences. This structure permits the resident to be entirely devoted to an area of specialty, taught by individuals completely dedicated to the field, during the resident’s assignment to one of the units.

Thoralf Sundt, III, MD, is Chief of Cardiac Surgery. Douglas Mathisen, MD, is Chief of Thoracic Surgery and Thoracic Surgery Residency Program Director.

Residency LengthThe residency program is two and a half years long. The second part of the program is divided evenly between six months as chief resident on thoracic surgery and six months as chief resident on cardiac surgery. Each year, one of the three residents will spend six months as chief resident in cardiovascular surgery at Children's Hospital.

Sample Residency ScheduleA schedule emphasizing cardiac surgical training may include first year rotations in cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, Children's Hospital followed by successive six-month rotations as chief in cardiac and thoracic surgery at The Massachusetts General Hospital and then at Children's Hospital.

If thoracic surgery were to be the main emphasis, the schedule may substitute additional time on the thoracic service in the first year and a half at The Massachusetts General Hospital, or possibly another institution, and conclude with six months as cardiac chief resident and six months as thoracic chief resident.

Two one-month blocks of vacation are permitted to each resident during training.

Clinical Load

The clinical load is intense, so laboratory investigative work by residents is not possible during the cardio-thoracic residency. However, members of the resident staff frequently carry on limited projects in clinical investigation, usually in conjunction with members of the visiting staff. No specific time is either set aside or available out of the residency to do research alone.

Instructional Basics
Basic science instruction is primarily derived while in the course of the surgical house officers' regular duties. Pathologic material is routinely reviewed at cardiac and thoracic surgical morbidity and mortality rounds. Numerous special conferences are also designed primarily for the instruction of cardiac and thoracic house officers. In addition, conferences in cardiology, pulmonary medicine, and anesthesia are open to cardiac and thoracic surgical residents.

We will accept applications from resident physicians who have/will have successfully completed a 5-year ACGME-accredited General Surgery residency program in the U.S. or Canada. We will have two openings in July 2016, one thoracic track and one cardiac track.

The deadline to complete your application is February 1, 2015. All applications for the Cardiothoracic Residency Program must be submitted through the Electronic Residency Application Service, known widely as ERAS. Programs participating in ERAS may only accept those application materials sent electronically through ERAS. We will not accept any additional supporting documents by mail. Please contact ERAS for registration at  Please contact us if you have any questions. 

If you would like further information about our program, please contact:

Douglas J. Mathisen, MD

Chief, General Thoracic Surgery
Massachusetts General Hospital
32 Fruit Street, Blake 1570
Boston, MA 02114

Tel: 617-726-2107
Fax: 617-726-7667