UNC begins new 6-year integrated cardiothoracic surgery residency

In July 2010, the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will begin a new six-year integrated residency program, which residents will enter directly from medical school. The Residency Review Committee for Thoracic Surgery, the national residency accrediting body, approved the program in July 2009.  UNC is one of just a few institutions in the United States that offer such a program.

Students at North American medical schools may apply for the program through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). The deadline for applying for the 2010 residency has passed, but students may apply from September 2010 to January 2011 for the six-year residency program that begins in July 2011.

The new program will replace UNC’s traditional three-year cardiothoracic surgery residency program and the general surgery residency that precedes it. UNC’s three-year program will be phased out as residents in the integrated six-year program fill the early years of the program.

The three-year residency program will start its final resident in 2013; that person would complete the three-year program in 2016 (application for this position would be in the fall of 2011, with interviews in winter 2011-2012). For more information on the three-year program, click here.

The six-year curriculum includes rotations in vascular interventional radiology, endoscopy, cardiology, and endovascular surgery, and will provide residents with the background and experience using these new techniques in order to build a career as future “cardiothoracic specialists.” The program has been carefully designed to balance cardiovascular and thoracic care, and includes extensive exposure to fields relevant to thoracic surgery such as GI endoscopy, surgical oncology, and gastrointestinal (foregut) surgery. Completion of the program will lead to certification by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. At UNC, the new program shortens the current ABTS certification process by two years.

Michael R. Mill, M.D., is chief of the UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and is director of the residency program.

UNC Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery faculty members believe that this tightly focused, comprehensive curriculum will produce better trained cardiothoracic surgeons and will be gratifying to the resident physicians who complete the program.

The field of cardiothoracic surgery has evolved tremendously over the decades, offering patients many more options for the treatment of intra-thoracic disease. The complexity of cardiothoracic surgery has increased and it has become more dependent upon a multi-disciplinary team approach, involving primary care physicians, cardiologists, pulmonologists, anesthesiologists, intensivists, radiologists, pathologists, cardiac perfusionists, nurses, clinical coordinators, social workers, and others. Hence, the objective of this training program is to provide a more comprehensive and rational immersion in the diagnosis and management of all aspects of cardiovascular and thoracic diseases through multi-disciplinary training. All aspects of the new curriculum are based on proven models of education currently available at the University of North Carolina. The curriculum preserves the significant contribution of general surgery and vascular surgery training to the development of a well-rounded cardiothoracic surgeon.

For more information on the new six-year program, click here.