Explore This Residency

Overview

The goal of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency Program at Massachusetts General Hospital is to verse residents in all the contemporary aspects of both cardiac and thoracic surgery. Our graduates are equipped with training and experience to commence practice in either or both fields.

Mass General has a long tradition of excellence in cardiothoracic surgery. Some highlights include:

  • Among graduates of the General Surgery program, 11 have served as presidents of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) and seven have been presidents of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS)
  • Edward D. Churchill and W. Gerald Austen led the Department of Surgery for 60 years
  • 93 cardiothoracic surgeons have graduated from the program to date
  • 22 surgeons have become either chiefs of their divisions or chiefs of surgery
  • Two surgeons have become CEOs of health care organizations

Cardiac and Thoracic as Separate Teaching Units

One of the unusual aspects of our program is the separation of cardiac and thoracic surgery as teaching units and in the resident’s assignments to these areas of dual specialty.

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

Thoralf Sundt, III, MD, is the chief of Cardiac Surgery and the director of the Cardiothoracic Residency Program.

Yolonda Colson, MD, PhD is the chief of Thoracic Surgery.

Residency Exposure

In Cardiac Surgery, residents become experienced in several areas, including:

  • Aortic surgery
  • Arrhythmia surgery
  • Heart and lung transplantation
  • Minimally invasive procedures
  • Off-pump coronary artery bypass (CABG)

In the Division of Thoracic Surgery, residents experience the full gamut, including:

  • Complex airway reconstruction
  • Complex esophageal procedures
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Pulmonary surgery

The residency program is two and a half years long. The first part of the program both tracks are very similar. In the final year of the program, residents are designated as chief on their respective service tracks. Each year, one of the three residents will spend three or six months (depending on individual interest) as chief resident in cardiovascular surgery at Boston Children's Hospital.

Curriculum

A schedule emphasizing cardiac surgical training may include first-year rotations in cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery and at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH), followed by successive six-month rotations as chief in cardiac and thoracic surgery at Mass General and then at BCH.

In a schedule where thoracic surgery is the main emphasis, the resident may substitute additional time on the thoracic service during the first year and a half at Mass General (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 robust, so laboratory investigative work by residents is not possible during the cardiothoracic residency. However, members of the resident staff frequently carry on limited projects in clinical investigation, usually in conjunction with members of the staff. An important goal is to be able to present at national meetings and begin developing a portfolio of contribution to the field. This can also help when it comes time to find a graduate’s first appointment.

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 trainees. In addition, conferences in cardiology, pulmonary medicine and anesthesia are open to residents.

Thoracic Track

Thoracic residents receive a rich clinical experience at Mass General. With an extraordinarily busy clinical service, the thoracic team provides a high volume of pulmonary, esophageal (both benign and malignant), mediastinal and tracheal procedures. The clinical and operative experience offers a referral base for complex procedures.

Residents are exposed to an array of clinical experience, and case-based learning is emphasized. We believe this is truly the best way for residents to learn. Didactic conferences are held weekly for residents to gain more exposure to thoracic surgery.

The Mass General Division of Thoracic Surgery includes:

  • 9 attending surgeons
  • 2 general surgery residents
  • 4 nurse practitioners
  • 3 physician assistants
  • 2 thoracic residents
  • Data manager
  • Program coordinator
  • Research nurse

The goal of the program is to train thoracic residents in the full breadth of thoracic surgery including endoscopy, open and minimally invasive surgery and airway surgery.

On the thoracic track, there is a robust practice in the complete spectrum of conditions such that trainees receive a solid foundation in all conditions they are likely to see in their careers, such as:

Rotation Schedule

The general thoracic track residents typically spend 16 months on general thoracic surgery rotations. Residents are encouraged to spend time at other thoracic programs, such as Mayo Clinic or Memorial Sloan Kettering, and this includes two three-month away rotations.

Year 1

Rotation

Length

General Thoracic Surgery
Mass General

6 months

Cardiac Surgery
Mass General

4 months

Congenital Cardiac Surgery
Boston Children's Hospital

1 month

Year 2

Rotation

Length

Elective Away Rotations - General Thoracic Surgery (choose from 2 institutions)
Options: Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan Kettering, University of Pittsburgh, Toronto General Hospital

6 months per institution

Cardiac Surgery
Mass General

6 months

Year 3

Rotation

Length

General Thoracic Surgery
Mass General

6 months

Cardiac Track

The Mass General Cardiac Surgery team performs a large number of cardiac surgical procedures. Residents within the cardiac track receive a rich clinical experience at Mass General and they will easily attain their required categorical cases. Additionally, they will gain broad exposure to the entire spectrum of complex cardiac surgery.

The Mass General Cardiac Surgery includes:

  • 8 attending surgeons
  • 5-7 cardiac residents
  • Two general surgery residents
  • 12-15 physician assistants
  • 5 nurse practitioners
  • Data manager
  • Program coordinator
  • Research nurse

From an operational standpoint, the cardiac surgery program at Mass General is based on the philosophy of a unified team, bolstered by a longstanding collaborative relationship with the Mass General Division of Cardiology.

The goal of the cardiac track residency program is to offer training on the full breadth of cardiac surgery. Trainees on the cardiac track spend sufficient time on the general thoracic service. By getting experience in both clinical areas, trainees can exceed their case requirements in all areas.

On the cardiac service, there is a robust practice in the complete spectrum of conditions such that trainees receive a solid foundation in all conditions they are likely to see in their careers, such as:

Rotation Schedule

In addition, residents rotate in the cardiac catheterization laboratory and receive training in echocardiography and catheter-based interventions for structural heart disease. They also receive exposure to the Heart Center Intensive Care Unit (ICU), caring for both medical and surgical cardiac patients and staffed by a multidisciplinary group of boarded intensivists. This rotation complements the residents’ work in Mass General’s 18-bed cardiac surgical unit.

Year 1

Rotation

Length

Cardiac Surgery
Mass General

6 months

General Thoracic Surgery
Mass General

5 months

Year 2

Rotation

Length

Congenital Cardiac Surgery
Boston Children's Hospital

3 or 6 months

Cardiac Surgery
Mass General

3 months

General Thoracic Surgery
Mass General

2 months

Year 3

Rotation

Length

Cardiac Surgery
Mass General

6 months

Research

Faculty in Cardiac Surgery and Thoracic Surgery are active participants in research and publications, helping to advance science and health care.

Cardiac Surgery Research

All surgeons in the Cardiac Surgery at Mass General participate in clinical research. We are leading in research in cardiac surgery, including:

Thoracic Surgery Research

Similarly, all surgeons within the Thoracic Surgery at Mass General participate in active clinical research, typically within their field of interest. Research papers are presented at national meetings by residents and fellows. Mass General is an active participant and a leader in the development of the General Thoracic Database in the STS under the leadership of Cameron Wright, MD.

We are leading in research and have the current research labs:

Learn More

Our Publications

The cardiothoracic surgery group is leading health care with innovative research. Below are some recent publications from our surgeons:

Hugh Auchincloss - Complications after tracheal resection and reconstruction: prevention and treatment.
Auchincloss HG, Wright CD. J Thorac Dis. 2016 Mar;8(Suppl 2):S160-7. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2016.01.86. Review.

Andrea Axtell - Assessing endothelial vasodilator function with the Endo-PAT 2000.
Axtell AL1, Gomari FA, Cooke JP. J Vis Exp. 2010 Oct 15;(44). pii: 2167. doi: 10.3791/2167.

Eric Feins - Anomalous Aortic Origin of a Coronary Artery: Surgical Repair With Anatomic- and Function-Based Follow-Up.
Feins EN, DeFaria Yeh D, Bhatt AB, Stefanescu A, Youniss MA, Ghoshhajra BB, Inglessis-Azuaje I, Liberthson RR, MacGillivray TE.
Ann Thorac Surg. 2016 Jan;101(1):169-75; discussion 175-6. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2015.07.003.

David Greenhouse - Assessment of a mitral valve replacement skills trainer: a simplified, low-cost approach.
Greenhouse DG, Grossi EA, Dellis S, Park J, Yaffee DW, DeAnda A Jr, Galloway AC, Balsam LB. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2013 Jan;145(1):54-9, 59.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2012.09.074.

Natalie Lui - Intraoperative Tracheal Injury.
Lui N, Wright C. Thorac Surg Clin. 2015 Aug;25(3):249-54. doi: 10.1016/j.thorsurg.2015.04.008. Review.

Smita Sihag - Recipient-Matching of Passenger Leukocytes Prolongs Survival of Donor Lung Allografts in Miniature Swine.
Madariaga ML, Michel SG, La Muraglia GM 2nd, Sihag S, Leonard DA, Farkash EA, Colvin RB, Cetrulo CL Jr, Huang CA, Sachs DH, Madsen JC, Allan JS. Transplantation. 2015 Mar 9. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 25757217

Leonidas Tapias-Vargas - Malignant solitary fibrous tumor of the pleura: report of two cases.
Tapias-Vargas LF, Santamaría-Ariza CM, Tapias-Vargas L, Tapias-Díaz L.
Cir Cir. 2012 May-Jun;80(3):270-3. Spanish. PMID: 23415207

Brooks Udelsman - Comparison of the biological equivalence of two methods for isolating bone marrow mononuclear cells for fabricating tissue-engineered vascular grafts.
Kurobe H, Tara S, Maxfield MW, Rocco KA, Bagi PS, Yi T, Udelsman BV, Dean EW, Khosravi R, Powell HM, Shinoka T, Breuer CK. Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2015 Jun;21(6):597-604. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2014.0442. Epub 2014 Dec 29. PMID: 25397868

How to Apply

We will accept applications from resident physicians who have/will have successfully completed a five-year Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited General Surgery residency program in the U.S. or Canada. We do not directly accept or process applications for this residency. You must apply through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).

Our deadline for July 1, 2021 residency start date is February 1, 2020. Please note we are only accepting Cardiac track applicants. The date for our Spring 2020 interview season is Saturday, March 28, 2020.

Step 1

To apply to the program, visit the ERAS website.

All applications for our cardiothoracic surgery residency program must be submitted through 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.

Step 2

Applicants must register with the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). To register, visit the NRMP website. Please refer to NRMP for information on registration procedures and deadlines.

Step 3

If you are considered for a position, you will be asked to visit Mass General for an interview with the program director and cardiothoracic faculty.

Program Faculty

Each unit, thoracic and cardiac, is taught by individuals completely dedicated to the field.

Thoralf M. Sundt, MD

Program Director
Division of Cardiac Surgery

Meet our cardiac surgeons

Christopher Morse, MD

Associate Program Director
Division of Thoracic Surgery

Jennifer Manu

Cardiothoracic Residency Program Coordinator