Is becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a cardiothoracic surgeon or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
How to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon
Those who want to become a cardiothoracic surgeon will need to get a bachelor's degree in a science, such as biology or chemistry. After passing the MCAT exam, four years of medical school need to be completed, followed by a five to seven year general surgery residency. Once finished the residency, a two or three year cardiothoracic surgery fellowship is required.
It is important to note that the cardiothoracic surgery fellowship certification is based on the number of surgeries performed as the operating surgeon, not the time spent in the program. This is in addition to passing rigorous board certification tests. Recently, however, many programs now offer the option for an integrated six year cardiothoracic residency (in place of the general surgery residency plus cardiothoracic residency).
Some cardiothoracic surgeons choose to do additional training in a sub-specialized area but this is optional with the exception of congenital heart surgery, which does require the completion of a one-year fellowship.