Where Have All the Cardiothoracic Surgery Residents Gone? Placement of Graduating Residents by United States Thoracic Surgery Training Programs, 1998 to 2002


  • Grayson H. Wheatley
  • Richard Lee




Objective. We studied the evolving job placement trends of graduating cardiothoracic surgery residents over a 5-year period from the perspective of the program director.

Methods. Graduate placement questionnaires were sent to program directors of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–accredited United States thoracic surgery residency programs (n = 92). Program directors were asked to categorize the type of job that each resident chose upon graduation (1998–2002).

Results. Of the program directors surveyed, 71.7% (66/92) responded, representing 76.4% (545/714) of the total graduating resident population during the study period. Three-year training programs constituted 24.2% (16/66) of the respondents and accounted for 20.2% (110/545) of the graduates. Annually, graduates most commonly chose private practice jobs. Between 2001 and 2002, the percentage of graduates entering fellowships increased (11.8% [13/110] versus 19.1% [21/110], P = .008) as the percentage of graduates choosing private practice positions decreased (56.4% [62/110] versus 45.5% [50/110], P = .15). In total, 12.8% (70/545) of the graduates pursued fellowships, with associated specialty choices being: 38.6% (27/70) adult cardiac, 37.1% (26/70) congenital, 15.7% (11/70) transplantation, and 8.6% (6/70) thoracic. There were no significant differences between 2-year and 3-year training program graduates in choice of private practice versus academic jobs.

Conclusions. In 2002, a greater percentage of graduates chose to pursue fellowship training at the expense of private practice employment. This difference may in part result from fewer employment opportunities rather than graduate choice. Ongoing studies are needed to follow this trend. Annual analysis of the placement of all graduating residents would help to identify changes in employment.


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How to Cite

Wheatley, G. H., & Lee, R. (2006). Where Have All the Cardiothoracic Surgery Residents Gone? Placement of Graduating Residents by United States Thoracic Surgery Training Programs, 1998 to 2002. The Heart Surgery Forum, 9(3), E618-E622. https://doi.org/10.1532/HSF98.20061002