Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program

The Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program at Stanford is an innovative, integrated six-year curriculum divided into two parts with an optional two years of academic enrichment after completion of the initial curriculum: 

  • Part I: The first two years comprise Prerequisite Clinical Training in Cardiothoracic Surgery.
  • Part II: The final four continuous years comprise Requisite Clinical Training in Cardiothoracic Surgery.
  • Optional 2-Year Academic Enrichment: Following the initial curriculum, there is the potential for two years of Academic Enrichment through either laboratory or clinical research opportunities or pursuit of a graduate degree in a related or ancillary field (e.g.,  MPH, MBA, MS, or PhD).

The program will accept two candidates each year following medical school graduation.

How to Apply

The program will accept two candidates each year following medical school graduation. We are accepting applications September 1, 2015, through November 30, 2015. We are participating in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) and would like to receive our applications through ERAS. Please see this web site for information about ERAS and the application process.

Applicants who have not graduated from a United States medical school will have to provide an Applicant Evaluation Status Letter from the Medical Board of California and an ECFMG certificate.

Mailing address:
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Falk Building
870 Quarry Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94304
Attn: Stephanie Harrington, Residency Coordinator

Reasons to choose the Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program

The Evolution of Cardiothoracic Surgery

The field of Cardiothoracic Surgery has evolved tremendously over the decades, offering patients many more open and non-invasive treatment options for all intra-thoracic diseases.  It is clearly more complex and increasingly depends on a multi-disciplinary team approach.  Hence, the overarching objective of this novel training program is to provide a more comprehensive and rational total immersion in the diagnosis and management of all aspects of cardiovascular and thoracic diseases through multi-disciplinary training that better prepares the candidate for these new challenges. As technology relentlessly evolves, conventional open surgical treatments are giving way to less invasive strategies, more frequently involving percutaneous devices (such as coronary artery stents, peripheral arterial stenting, endovascular stent-grafts for aneurysmal disease, and placement of transcatheter aortic valves) or robotic or videoscopic/thoracoscopic/endoscopic tools for minimal access approaches. The next generation of cardiothoracic surgeons must be proficient in traditional open surgical procedures as well as be facile using these new approaches.

Integrated Training: Meeting the Needs of Tomorrow’s CT Surgeon in Less Time

This unique integrated program curriculum, including rotations in interventional radiology, interventional cardiology, and endovascular surgery, will provide our residents with background and experience using these new tools in order to build a career as future "cardiovascular specialists." This integrated training program can be completed in less time than the current training paradigm that requires completion of general surgical training prior to commencing a two to three year cardiothoracic surgical residency.  Despite the fact that eight years of post-graduate residency specialty training still represents a major time investment, having the entire residency dedicated to what the trainees will be doing for the rest of their careers will produce better trained surgeons and be more gratifying for the trainees. 

Work Hours: Less is More

In addition to offering more rational, better focused, and more comprehensive training for future cardiothoracic surgeons in a more effective educational framework, this integrated curriculum will proffer less onerous work weeks and a healthier lifestyle balance for the residents. With the emphasis on multi-disciplinary training, enhanced teamwork, and less burdensome staffing demands, compliance with resident duty hour limitations* will be enhanced.

*The program will maintain compliance with the duty hour standard. The RRC-TS granted an 80 hour (average) work week restriction in July 2006.

Curriculum - Parts I & II

Part I (R1, R2)
Prerequisite Clinical Training in Cardiothoracic Surgery

In the first two years, the curriculum is based on broad training in both surgical and medical specialties.

R1 Objectives:

  • learn and practice the basic concepts of preoperative and postoperative patient care
  • learn to identify and care for critically ill patients
  • develop basic surgical technical competence

R1 Clinical Rotations:

  • adult cardiac surgery
  • general surgery
  • trauma surgery
  • vascular surgery
  • thoracic surgery
  • emergency medicine
  • cardiology/coronary care unit
  • cardiac anesthesia

R2 Objectives:

  • gain increased responsibility in preoperative and postoperative patient care, specifically in diagnosing conditions and developing treatment plans
  • become more technically proficient and skilled in basic surgical procedures

R2 Clinical Rotations:

Integrated into the R2 year, residents will rotate on services that allow development of technical skill sets necessary to practice percutaneous interventions and endovascular surgery. 

  • adult cardiac surgery
  • general surgery
  • cross-sectional (CT/MR) radiology imaging
  • echocardiography
  • non-invasive vascular laboratory
  • interventional radiology
  • electrophysiology 

Location of Rotations (both R1 and R2):

  • Stanford University Medical Center
  • Palo Alto VA Medical Center
  • Kaiser Santa Clara Hospital
  • Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

These rotations were selected based on high clinical volume and excellent hands-on operative experience.

Conferences and Exams (both R1 and R2):
The first- and second-year trainees are expected to follow the cardiothoracic surgery core curriculum and attend mandatory teaching conferences including resident didactic teaching conferences, wet labs, journal club, and morbidity and mortality conferences.  The residents will also participate in other service-specific teaching conferences while on any given rotation. 

Part II (R3, R4, R5, R6): Requisite Clinical Training in Cardiothoracic Surgery

The last four years of training are devoted to the surgical, percutaneous, and minimally invasive treatment of acquired and congenital cardiovascular disorders and non-cardiac thoracic diseases.

Part II Clinical Rotations:
Residents rotate through services at both a junior and a chief resident level.  This strategy will foster progressive operative responsibility.

Part II Location of Rotations:
In addition to rotations at Stanford University Hospital, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and the Palo Alto Veteran’s Administration Hospital, we have added rotations at:

  • Kaiser Santa Clara for non-cardiac thoracic surgery
  • Oakland Children’s Hospital for pediatric cardiac surgery

These additional hospitals provide the resident with high volume, common clinical cases, complementing the complex tertiary care cases seen at Stanford and Packard Hospitals. Each affiliate hospital is staffed with dedicated cardiothoracic surgery staff consisting of Stanford-affiliated, full-time faculty members.

Part II Conferences and Exams:
All R3 through R6 residents are expected to follow the cardiothoracic surgery core curriculum and attend mandatory conferences including resident didactic teaching conferences, wet labs, journal club, and morbidity and mortality conferences. In addition, the residents will take the yearly ABTS In-training Examinations.

R3 Objectives:
In the R3 year, the resident begins Senior level training in cardiothoracic surgery and will:

  • review preoperative patient history and physical findings and all relevant imaging studies with the attending staff
  • participate in diagnosis and treatment planning
  • learn and perform basic cardiovascular and thoracic surgical procedures under attending staff supervision (If the complexity of the operation is beyond the experience and ability of the resident, the attending surgeon will perform the operation with the resident functioning as first assistant.)
  • be responsible for postoperative care of patients on their service

R3 Clinical Rotations:

  • adult cardiac surgery
  • pediatric cardiac surgery
  • thoracic surgery
  • interventional cardiology service, participating in diagnostic catheterizations and angioplasty/stent placements.

R4 Objectives and Clinical Rotations:
In the R4 year, the resident will:

  • assume chief resident level responsibility while rotating on the pediatric cardiac and non-cardiac thoracic surgery services
  • assume primary responsibility in preoperative surgical planning and postoperative and outpatient patient management
  • perform as the primary surgeon with direct attending supervision while on the thoracic surgery service
  • on the pediatric cardiac service, perform cases appropriate for this level of training
  • spend three months on the Stanford Vascular Surgery Endovascular Rotation, which includes:
    • training in advanced catheter and guidewire skills
    • performance in diagnostic arteriography, angioplasty and stenting
    • selection and treatment of appropriate patients with abdominal or descending thoracic aortic aneurysms for endovascular stent-graft repair

R5 Objectives and Clinical Rotations:
In the R5 year, the resident will:

  • assume chief resident level responsibility for adult cardiac and thoracic surgery, including preoperative planning and postoperative management
  • act as primary surgeon on appropriate level cases and first assistant for complex cases
  • spend three months on the transplantation service, participating in recipient and donor selection, operative and postoperative management, and the treatment of postoperative complications
  • perform donor procurements, non-redo heart and lung transplants, and ventricular assist device management

R6 Objectives and Clinical Rotations:
In the R6 year, the resident will:

  • rotate as the chief resident on the two adult cardiac services at Stanford Hospital. In addition to basic and complex adult cardiac cases, residents will be exposed to specialized thoracic and thoracoabdominal aortic surgery, including open techniques and endovascular repairs
  • develop technical skills in these areas, as well as understand:
    • the natural history of the disease processes
    • indications for treatment
    • treatment alternatives and options
    • complications
    • postoperative management

Optional 2-Year Academic Enrichment

The departmental goal is to train future world leaders in academic cardiothoracic surgery.

The academic enrichment experience is designed to provide residents with a great deal of flexibility to pursue:

  • scholarly research in basic science investigation
  • clinical or clinical outcomes research
  • focused clinical rotations at other institutions
  • or a variety of advanced degrees in business, basic science, education, law, or public health

Operative Simulator:
The residents will have the opportunity to spend time using our operative simulator throughout the residency but will be expected to utilize this technical training facility during these academic enrichment years.

Conferences and Exams:
The resident is expected to follow the cardiothoracic surgery core curriculum and attend all mandatory teaching and didactic conferences and take the yearly ABTS In-training Exam.

These two years are not a formal part of the ACGME-mandated training program; financial support for the residents’ stipends during these two years will be provided through research training grants or other, non-hospital, sources.

Quick Links

Dr. Michael Fischbein

Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program

Residents in wet lab under the supervision of Dr. D. Craig Miller