Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgical Fellowship

Program Mission

Our mission is to produce well-rounded, clinically excellent and technically skilled cardiac and thoracic surgeons through commitment to education, scholarship, diversity, inclusion, and safe, high-quality patient care. We will improve the health and well-being of Florida and Southeastern regional patients and referral area patients and their families by producing physicians who continue to learn and/or lead in whatever setting they choose for their career.

Surgeon operating on a patient

Traditional Three-Year Training Pathway

The thoracic and cardiovascular surgical fellowship program at the University of Florida in Gainesville has successfully trained generations of highly skilled surgeons for many decades. Our program has enjoyed uninterrupted American Council of Graduate Medical Education accreditation since September 11, 1961. Alumni from our program have chosen career pathways in academic surgery as well as private practice.

This is a three-year program in which candidates who have completed five years of general surgery training (many with two additional years of dedicated research), receive specialized surgical instruction in the management and treatment of conditions of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems as well as the foregut.

Our fellows are closely involved in the pre-operative assessment, operation, and post-operative care of all patients on the services to which they are assigned. The operative experience is designed to allow graduated technical responsibility commensurate with increasing skills, judgment and surgical maturity. All residents graduate with an average operative experience of 700 cases.

The University of Florida is a high-volume tertiary center that offers a rich academic environment that consists of various teams of specialists committed to the care of routine, complex and end-stage pathology involving adult cardiac, pulmonary and foregut disease, as well as congenital cardiopulmonary disease. Our affiliate, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is the second-largest adult cardiac program and highest-volume robotic thoracic surgery program in the national VA health system. This intimate and collegial partnership of medical and surgical specialists, combined with high volume, generates a fantastic milieu in which to train fellows in the latest technical advances and most up-to-date surgical interventions to ensure completeness in training and success in independent practice.

Our program is not designed to commit trainees to a particular pathway (cardiac or thoracic) from the start of the first year. Instead, fellows are trained equally in adult cardiac and thoracic in the first two years and allowed to tailor their experience in the third year to master techniques appropriate for their desired career pathway. Our 14 faculty members, with varied interests in individual areas of expertise, are committed to mentoring and academically engaging the fellows throughout the training experience and into independent practice.

Finishing residents have been eligible for UNOS certification in Cardiac Transplantation since 1984 and Pulmonary Transplantation since 1994. The depth and breadth of the complex aortic surgery performed has been a boon to graduating residents as a distinction in the competitive job market.

Program Aims

Prepare residents for American Board of Thoracic Surgery Certification, achieving and maintaining a first-time pass rate of 95% or better.

Develop surgeons who are able to serve as the leader of a multidisciplinary care team to provide cost-conscious care of the highest quality.

Provide residents with academic skills that will make them competitive for careers in academic surgery as well as private practice.

Equip residents with the life skills to navigate professional stressors, including the recognition of symptoms of burnout and the development of healthy coping skills.

Produce well-rounded, clinically excellent and technically skilled cardiac and thoracic surgeons via a structured curriculum that provides training in all facets of our specialty:

  • Adult cardiac surgery, including surgery for ischemic heart disease, valvular disease, adult congenital heart disease and re-do operations
  • Major resections for cancer of the lungs, chest wall and esophagus utilizing all current platforms for open and minimally invasive surgery, including VATS and robotic surgery
  • Complex aortic surgery, including thoracic aortic aneurysms and aortic dissection using both open and endovascular techniques
  • Valvular heart surgery, including open techniques, MitraClip, minimally invasive mitral valve repair and replacement, as well as transcatheter aortic, mitral and tricuspid valve replacement
  • Surgical treatment of end-stage respiratory failure with advanced mechanical ventilator support, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and orthotopic lung transplantation
  • Surgical treatment of end-stage heart failure with ventricular-assist devices, ECMO and orthotopic heart transplantation