Cardiothoracic Surgery Traditional Fellowship Program 2024-2026

Deadline: December 18, 2022.

Cardiothoracic Surgery Traditional Fellowship Program 2024-2026

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Traditional Fellowship program is dedicated to producing balanced, well-qualified cardiothoracic surgeons prepared to serve the community through careers in either private practice or academia. With dedicated faculty based at Seattle’s premier medical facilities, the program has been carefully designed to balance training in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

This two-year fellowship is designed to provide trainees with focused, hands on experience divided equally between cardiac and thoracic surgery. While fellows are welcome to choose an area of specialty, there are no pre-designated cardiac or thoracic tracks.

Fellows rotate on cardiothoracic surgery clinical services at two main sites of practice with senior residents in the Cardiothoracic Surgery Integrated Residency program. Throughout these two years of training, fellows will gain requisite experience in general thoracic, cardiac, congenital cardiac, and foregut surgery as well as end-stage heart and lung disease, including mechanical circulatory support and heart and lung transplantation.

Clinical Experience

Cardiothoracic Surgery fellows at the University of Washington receive an unrivaled clinical education. Training alongside nationally and internationally recognized faculty, fellows have a robust operative experience in every subspecialty of cardiothoracic surgery from “bread and butter” cases” like CABGs and lobectomies to more complex cases like hybrid aortic aneurysm repair and pulmonary thromboendarterectomy.

What makes the fellowship program at the University of Washington unique is that it is one of the few programs in the country that trains you to be a true Cardiothoracic surgeon. Graduates are equipped to handle the full spectrum of cardiac and thoracic surgical disease.  Additionally, as the tertiary and quaternary referral center for the WWAMI region, we care for a diverse patient population, which equates to a robust clinical experience.

Fellows primarily rotate on three services – UW Medical Center Thoracic Surgery, UW Medical Center Cardiac Surgery, and VA Puget Sound Healthcare System Cardiothoracic Surgery – and are integral members of the surgical team both in and out of the OR. Our fellows work alongside a dedicated APPS in the ICU, Acute Care floor and OR as well as Integrated residents and oversee all aspects of perioperative care from the initial clinic visit until discharge, giving them a well-rounded clinical experience.

Training Sites

Traditional Cardiothoracic Fellows will rotate at three sites throughout their training.

  • The University of Washington Medical Center – Montlake is a tertiary and quaternary care referral site for the WWAMI region and serves as the primary training site for the fellowship. Fellows will split their time at this site between the Cardiac and Thoracic Services.
  • The VA Puget Sound Health Care System provides tertiary care to veterans throughout the region. Fellows will rotate for 2-3 months a year on the Cardiothoracic Surgery Service. (Located 7.5 miles south of UW Medical Center-Montlake)
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital was founded over 100 years ago and serves families across the WWAMI region regardless of their ability to pay. Fellows interested in Congenital Cardiac surgery will have the option of rotating on the Congenital Cardiac Service. (Located 2.0 miles west of UW Medical Center-Montlake)


Training is split between the UW Medical Center Thoracic, UW Medical Center Cardiac, and VA Puget Sound Health Care System services. These two years of training are intensive, and fellows are fully immersed in cardiothoracic surgery, working alongside the senior Integrated residents to truly lead the team and drive patient care.

On these rotations, trainees will work one-on-one with Cardiac and Thoracic faculty to master all aspects of Cardiac and Thoracic surgery.

Cardiac Surgery

  • Coronary Revascularization
  • Valvular Heart Disease
  • Aortic Surgery
  • Endocarditis
  • Advanced Heart Failure
  • Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS)/ECLS
  • Cardiac Transplantation
  • Structural Heart Disease/Transcatheter Valve Replacement
  • Adult Congenital Surgery

Thoracic Surgery

  • General Thoracic Oncology
  • End-stage Lung Disease/Lung Volume Reduction Surgery (LVRS)
  • Tracheal Reconstruction
  • Esophageal Surgery
  • Interventional Bronchoscopy (including Rigid Bronchoscopy)
  • Chest Wall Reconstruction
  • Mediastinal and Pleural Disease
  • VATS and Robotic Surgery
  • Lung Transplantation/ ECLS
  • Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy

Simulation Training

In their PGY 6 year Traditional Fellows participate in a 35-week simulation training at the WWAMI Institute for Simulation in Healthcare (WISH) that will cover three basic cardiac surgery procedures and three critical intraoperative adverse events:

  • Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB)
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG)
  • Aortic valve replacement (AVR)
  • Massive intraoperative air embolism (MAE)
  • Acute intraoperative aortic dissection (AIAD)
  • Sudden perioperative deterioration of cardiac function (SDCF)

Simulation training is led weekly by a Cardiothoracic Surgery faculty member, with participation from members of the nursing, perfusion, and anesthesia teams as needed. Completion of this curriculum meets the simulation training requirements for ABTS board eligibility.


All incoming Traditional Fellows are matched with a Cardiothoracic Surgery faculty mentor as Junior fellows. Trainees will meet with their mentor on a semi-annual basis to discuss progress and goals.

Additionally, fellows meet with the Program Director a minimum of twice a year for reviews.


Trainees at the UW have many local and national leadership opportunities.

Past trainees have served in leadership positions for many organizations including:

  • Department of Surgery Cardiothoracic Surgery Interest Group
  • Department of Surgery Women’s Council
  • Department of Surgery Diversity Council
  • Department of Surgery Wellness Committee
  • UWHA House Staff Association
  • Washington State Medical Association, Resident and Fellow Section
  • Society for Black Academic Surgeons
  • Society of Thoracic Surgeons
  • TSRA Executive Committee
  • AATS Resident Representative to the ORR/AAMC

The PGY 7 fellow also holds the position of Chief Administrative Fellow. Together with the senior resident from the Cardiothoracic Surgery Integrated Residency, they are responsible for managing the weekly Thoracic and Cardiac Education Conference schedules, monthly call schedule, and day-to-day management of the Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery services. The Chief Fellow receives a monthly stipend in addition to their base salary.


While fellows are invited and encouraged to participate in scholarly activity such as writing manuscripts and books chapters or giving presentations throughout their training, the Cardiothoracic Surgery Traditional Fellowship does not require trainees to take formal time out for research. However, there are still numerous opportunities for involvement in all aspects of research including clinical outcomes, quality improvement, and work with local and national clinical databases.

Training Tracks

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Traditional Fellowship is designed to provide fellows with focused, hands on experience and is divided equally between Cardiac and Thoracic surgery. While fellows are welcome to choose any area of specialty, there are no pre-designated cardiac or thoracic tracks.

The Traditional Program at the University of Washington is truly unique because of the nearly equal division between cardiac and thoracic surgical training. Regardless of a fellow’s chosen area of specialty, all graduates of the program are trained to be competent, well-rounded surgeons in both general thoracic and general cardiac surgery.

Educational & Research Conferences

Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery Annual Visiting Professor

Each spring the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery hosts its annual Visiting Professor Lectureship. This event brings leaders in the fields of Cardiac, Thoracic, and Congenital Surgery from all over the country to Seattle. Each year this event is split into two parts – in the morning residents and fellows deliver case presentations and, in the afternoon, the Visiting Professor delivers a keynote speech. The day of academia is followed by a reception and dinner for trainees, faculty, and the honored guest.

Past Visiting Professors have included:

  • Sean Grondin (Department Head, Surgery; University of Calgary)
  • Joseph Dearani (Chair, Cardiovascular Surgery; Mayo Clinic)
  • Michael Mack (Medical Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery; Baylor Scott & White Health & Chair; BSW The Heart Hospital – Plano Research Center)
  • Keith Naunheim (Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery; Saint Louis University)
  • Frank Hanley (Chief, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery; Stanford University)

Harkins Symposium and Strauss Lecture

Named in honor of the Department of Surgery’s first Chairman and an esteemed University of Washington alumnus respectively, the Harkins Symposium and Strauss Lecture is a day of scholarship held each fall in which faculty across the Department of Surgery present on the insightful, cutting-edge research currently being done at the University of Washington. The Strauss Lecture is delivered each year by an invited professor who is a leader in the field of surgery.

Past speakers have included:

  • Valarie W. Rusch (Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Surgery; Memorial Sloan Kettering)
  • Jonathan Woodson (Director, Institute for Health System Innovation & Policy; Boston University)
  • Andrea L. Pusic (Chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; Brigham and Women’s Hospital)
  • Robert S.D. Higgens (Director; Department of Surgery; Johns Hopkins)
  • Thomas M. Krummel (Emile Holman Professor Emeritus (Active), Co-Director, Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign Program, & Director, Surgical Innovation Program; Stanford University)

Resident Research Day and Schilling Lecture

Dr. John Schilling was the third Chairman of the Department of Surgery and is remembered as laying the groundwork that made the Department what it is today. In his relatively short eight-year tenure as Chair, Dr Schilling recruited 41 faculty and graduated 40 chief residents. Each year in his honor, the Department of Surgery hosts the Resident Research Day and Schilling Lecture.

Over the course of the day, residents from the five departmental divisions (General Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Transplant Surgery, Vascular Surgery, and Plastic Surgery) are invited to present their research to faculty mentors and peers. The Schilling Lecture is delivered by an invited professor who shares Dr. Schilling’s devotion to patient care, teaching, and research.

Past lecturers include:

  • Mary Hawn (Chair, Department of Surgery; Stanford University)
  • Caprice C. Greenberg (Morgridge Distinguished Chair in Health Services Research, Surgical Oncology; University of Wisconsin)
  • Diana Farmer (Chair, Department of Surgery; UC Davis)
  • Melina Kibbe (Chair, Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina)
  • Walter Pories (Founding Chair of the Department of Surgery; East Carolina University)

Department of Surgery Education Seminar

Surgical education is at the heart of the Department of Surgery’s mission.  Every June, the entire Department of Surgery gathers together to discuss a topic within surgical education with the goal of improving the training of our fellows as well as improving the culture of the Department. Both Faculty and trainees are invited to present and lead the discussion.

Past topics have included:

  • Strategies and Best Practices for Surgeon-Patient Interpersonal Communication
  • Autonomy in Surgical Education
  • Wellness Education in Surgery

Consistent with Coalition for Physician Accountability recommendations, all interviews will be held virtually via Zoom for the 2021 recruitment cycle.

Recruitment & Selection

The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Washington is a participating member of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and only accepts applications through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must have successfully completed a general surgery residency program or equivalent and be board eligible in their specialty and must be a graduate of a US or Canadian medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), a graduate of a US college of osteopathic medicine accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or an International Medical Graduate that fits the criteria below. Canadian applicants should contact the Canadian Residents Matching Service.

Eligible applicants will be considered based on their individual preparedness, ability, aptitude, academic credentials, communication skills, and personal qualities such as motivation and integrity. In order for Program Leadership and Cardiothoracic Surgery faculty to effectively review applications and select candidates for interviews, the following items are required:

  • Completion of all USMLE exams
  • ABSITE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal Statement

The NRMP program code is 1918460F0.

Application Process & Dates

While the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery will accept applications on a rolling basis throughout the recruitment season, priority will be given to applications received by December 18, 2022.

All interviews this year will be held virtually via Zoom on February 24, 2023 and March 17, 2023.

Interview Day Process

Overview of Interview Day

  • Program Overview Presentation
  • Discussion with Current Fellows
  • Meeting with Department Chair
  • Meetings with Cardiothoracic Surgery Faculty and Staff (Program Director, Associate Program Director, Division Chief, Program Administrator, and other faculty based on availability)

We understand that seeing the University and the surrounding area is an important part of deciding where you want to train. We are so sorry to not be able to meet you in person this year, but our fellows, faculty, and staff are more than happy to answer all your questions about life at the UW and the Pacific Northwest. To learn more about working at the University of Washington and living in Seattle, please take a look at our social media accounts!

International Medical Graduates

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship Program welcomes applications from International Medical Graduates in the following situations:

  • If an applicant is a graduate of a medical school outside the United States and Canada who has received a currently valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) prior to appointment, or a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in a US licensing jurisdiction in which they are training.
  • If an applicant is a graduate of a medical school outside the US who has completed a Fifth Pathway program provided by an LCME-accredited medical school

For more information, please click here