Traditional Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship

General Thoracic Surgery Track

The General Thoracic Track Program lasts two years and begins after successful completion of a five-year surgery training program. Application is made during the fall of the fourth clinical year of surgery training. The program is designed to train individuals in all areas of clinical thoracic surgery as well as to involve residents in clinical research in thoracic surgery. It is expected that the trainee will obtain sufficient operative experience in general thoracic surgery to receive the ABTS certification via the "General Thoracic Surgery Pathway."

Clinical Training

Residents will spend approximately twelve months of their training on thoracic surgery rotations, approximately ten months on cardiac surgery rotations, and approximately two months in thoracic transplantation. There will be some flexibility to alter this basic plan according to resident interest. Ten of the twelve general thoracic months are planned to be at Stanford Hospital, with two months at St. John's Hospital, Santa Monica, Los Angeles working with Rob McKenna. There may also be a possibility for additional general thoracic experience at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System. The cardiac surgery rotations will be approximately equally split between Kaiser Santa Clara and Stanford Hospital, and the transplant rotation will be at Stanford.

Clinical Exposure

Residents will be exposed to all areas of clinical general thoracic surgery, including both benign and malignant diseases. Both knowledge base and technical expertise will be developed. In addition to basic procedures, such as "open" lobectomy, esophagectomy, thymectomy, sympathectomy, etc., trainees will have extensive exposure to advanced procedures that are performed in only a handful of centers nationally. These procedures include: sleeve lobectomy, VATS (thoracoscopic) lobectomy, minimally invasive (thoracoscopic / laparoscopic) esophagectomy, anterior approaches to Pancoast tumors, lung volume reduction surgery, transcervical thymectomy, laparoscopic Nissen and paraesophageal hernia repair, lung transplantation, etc. It is expected that residents will finish the program with complete, independent facility in the cognitive and technical aspects of performing all of these procedures.

Research Experience

In preparation for a career in academic general thoracic surgery, an important part of the program will be resident involvement in clinical research. Each resident will choose a faculty member/mentor with whom to develop at least one clinical research project that can be carried out during the course of the residency. It is hoped that presentation at a major national meeting and ultimate publication will set the resident on a course to incorporate research into his/her career.

For more information, visit the Stanford Thoracic Surgery Clinical Research Program website.

Thoracic Surgery Faculty

All of our Thoracic Surgery attendings limit their practice to general thoracic surgery. They have all trained at leading thoracic surgery centers (Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Pennsylvania, Brigham and Womens' Hospital, and Duke University) and have substantial expertise between them covering all of the subspecialties and advanced techniques within the field.

Joseph Shrager, MD

Professor and Thoracic Surgery Division Chief
Director, General Thoracic Track Program, Stanford School of Medicine

Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, FACS

Associate Professor
Stanford School of Medicine

Robert J. McKenna Jr., MD

Medical Director
St. John's Health Center
Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Mark Berry, MD

Mylavarapu Rogers Professor
Stanford School of Medicine

Natalie Lui, MD

Assistant Professor
Stanford School of Medicine

Douglas Liou, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor
Stanford School of Medicine

Conference Schedule

Mondays, 7am

  •     Faculty-led interactive CT Surgery teaching conference (cardiac and thoracic) (3/month)
  •     CT Surgery Morbidity and Mortality Conference (1/month)
  •     General Surgery Morbidity and Mortality Conference (1/month)

Monday, 6pm

    CT Surgery Journal Club (1/month)

Tuesdays, 2pm

    Thoracic Oncology Tumor Board

Wednesdays, 1pm

    Pulmonary Case Conference

Thursdays, 7am

  •     Thoracic Surgery Case Conference (2/month)
  •     Thoracic Oncology Research Conference (1/month)
  •     Thoracic Surgery Divisional Administrative Meeting (1/month)

Every 3 months

    GI combined Surgical/Medical Conference


How to Apply

General surgery residents apply to the program by January 15th of their fourth year of clinical surgery training. These applications will be via ERAS for positions starting August 1st, one year and five months later, and they will be offered via the NRMP (use program code 1820460F0 when applying).

Please contact Stephanie Harrington for additional information. Your application materials should include:

  •     Curriculum Vitae
  •     Letters of recommendation from two surgeons and your program director
  •     All ABME and surgery in-training exam scores
  •     Medical school transcript and dean’s letter
  •     A brief statement about why you have chosen general thoracic surgery

Mailing address:

Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Falk Building
870 Quarry Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94304
Attn: Stephanie Harrington, Residency Coordinator

Benefits & Housing

Current General Thoracic Surgery Fellows