Resident Education Program in Thoracic Surgery

Residency Curriculum & Training

What is Thoracic Surgery?

Thoracic surgery is sometimes referred to as cardiothoracic surgery and is operatively the treatment of diseases and injuries of the heart, lungs, mediastinum, esophagus, chest wall, diaphragm, and great vessels. 

This residency education program encompasses the operative, perioperative, and critical care of patients with pathologic conditions within the chest. This includes the surgical care of coronary artery disease; cancers of the lung, esophagus, and chest wall; abnormalities of the great vessels and heart valves; congenital anomalies of the chest and heart; tumors of the mediastinum; diseases of the diaphragm; and management of chest injuries.


Also included are congenital and acquired lesions (including infections, trauma, tumors, and metabolic disorders) of both the heart and blood vessels in the thorax, as well as diseases involving the lungs, pleura, chest wall, mediastinum, esophagus, and diaphragm. In addition, the ability to establish a precise diagnosis, an essential step toward proper therapy, requires familiarity with diagnostic procedures such as cardiac catheterization, angiography, electrocardiography, imaging techniques, endoscopy, tissue biopsy, and biologic and biochemical tests appropriate to thoracic diseases. 

Educational Curriculum

Our curriculum is designed to accomplish the goals and objectives of our program.  The curriculum is multifaceted and includes didactic, supervised and semi-independent clinical care in addition to a robust perioperative and operative experience in adult cardiac, pediatric cardiac and thoracic surgery. 


1.       Reading:  Textbooks including:


  • General Thoracic Surgery (Shields),
  • Cardiac Surgery in the Adult (Cohn and Edmunds),
  • Pediatric Cardiac Surgery (Mavroudis & Backer),
  • Demanding Medical Excellence (Millenson), and
  • Crossing the Quality Chasm (Institute of Medicine)

2.       Evolving current information from peer-reviewed surgical literature and information derived from presentations at national meetings. 

3.       Basic science is addressed through various resident teaching conferences as described in the conference schedule.

4.       Other conferences.  Residents are encouraged to participate in rotation specific conferences particularly to acquire skills leading toward integrated and multidisciplinary care of complex cardiac and thoracic surgery patients.


5.       Research opportunities.  Residents are encouraged to participate in research during residency.  This has included clinical trials, retrospective chart reviews, evaluation of patient outcomes and other methods. 

Copyright 2004, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Department of Thoracic Surgery

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