Weathering the storm: How can thoracic surgery training programs meet the new challenges in the era of less-invasive technologies?

Sunil M. Prasad, Malek G. Massad, Edgar G. Chedrawy, Norman J. Snow, Joannie T. Yeh, Himalaya Lele, Ahmed Tarakji, Hersh S. Maniar, Heather Herren, William A. Gay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Objective: The introduction of new technologies has shifted some resident index procedures to nonsurgical specialists. We examined the operative case volume of thoracic surgery residents during the last 6 years to objectively identify changes and trends. Methods: Program and resident data from 2002 to 2007 were entered into a database and analyzed. Program match information was obtained from the National Resident Matching Program. Resident operative experience and board examination results were obtained from the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. Results: A total of 795 residents qualified for the written American Board of Thoracic Surgery examination; 627 residents graduated from 2-year programs, and 168 residents graduated from 3-year programs. The total number of resident cases was higher in 3-year programs compared with 2-year programs in all 10 index categories studied (P < .01). The total volume of cases has not significantly increased in 2-year programs. The volume of coronary artery bypass graft surgeries decreased in every resident program model studied. The volume of general thoracic cases increased in all program models. Two-year, 2-resident programs had the lowest volume in 5 of the 10 categories, reaching significance in 3 categories. The written board pass rate was lower among 2-year programs than among 3-year programs (86% vs 95%, respectively, P = .003). Conclusion: Training programs have so far weathered the storm by maintaining index volume with a new case mix, but significant trends in revascularization procedures are concerning. This study indicates a significant advantage in case volume and board pass rates among 3-year programs. Thoracic residency programs should be reorganized so that the number of residents does not exceed the capacity of the program to provide a meaningful experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1326.e1
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

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