Resident Education Program in Thoracic Surgery

Clinical Competence



Clinical competence in thoracic surgery requires factual knowledge and technical skills in the preoperative evaluation, operative management, and postoperative care of patients with pathologic conditions involving thoracic structures. Precise definition of the scope of thoracic surgery as well as the current methods used to assess clinical competence have been developed to ensure that our residents have met certain standards and qualifications.

The scope of thoracic surgery encompasses a knowledge of normal and pathologic conditions of both cardiovascular and general thoracic structures. This includes 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. It is essential that the thoracic surgeon be knowledgeable and experienced in evolving techniques such as laser therapy, thoracoscopy and thoracoscopic surgery.

The highest educational standards are best achieved in residency programs in which close supervision and instruction as well as progressive individual responsibility for operative and postoperative care are possible.  The program is designed to provide a sound didactic and clinical education which is carefully planned to optimize educational opportunities for the resident concurrently with balancing concerns for patient safety and resident well-being.  Service obligations are minimized but not eliminated.  Ancillary staff including a cadre of nurse practitioners and physician assistants assist with healthcare service.  Didactic and clinical education has priority for residents’ time and energy. Faculty, residents, and staff collectively have responsibility for the safety and welfare of patients. Faculty and residents are educated to recognize the signs of fatigue via web in-service tools and programs.  Active departmental policies to ensure duty hour compliance minimizes fatigue and optimizes educational energies.

Residents will attend the Outpatient Clinic for their respective service at least one day per week which may include either the VA, or Vanderbilt University Hospital, or both   This opportunity for outpatient clinic may be assigned.

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

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