Why choose cardiothoracic surgery as a career?

Heart Surg Forum. 2011 Jun;14(3):E142-8. doi: 10.1532/HSF98.20101117.


The future of cardiothoracic surgery faces a lofty challenge with the advancement of percutaneous technology and minimally invasive approaches. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, once a lucrative operation and the driving force of our specialty, faces challenges with competitive stenting and poor reimbursements, contributing to a drop in applicants to our specialty that is further fueled by the negative information that members of other specialties impart to trainees. In the current era of explosive technological progress, the great diversity of our field should be viewed as a source of excitement, rather than confusion, for the upcoming generation. The ideal future cardiac surgeon must be a "surgeon-innovator," a reincarnation of the pioneering cardiac surgeons of the "golden age" of medicine. Equipped with the right skills, new graduates will land high-quality jobs that will help them to mature and excel. Mentorship is a key component at all stages of cardiothoracic training and career development. We review the main challenges facing our specialty--length of training, long hours, financial hardship, and uncertainty about the future, mentorship, and jobs--and we present individual perspectives from both residents and faculty members.

MeSH terms

  • Career Mobility*
  • Job Description*
  • Mentors*
  • Thoracic Surgery / economics
  • Thoracic Surgery / education*
  • United States
  • Workforce