Medical Students

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Shadowing Opportunities

Interested medical students can contact Christine Carey, Thoracic Surgery Residency and Fellowship Coordinator, regarding shadowing faculty.  Please provide the following:

  1. Specific clinical interest, i.e. cardiac, general thoracic, pediatric, transplant
  2. Name of specific faculty interested in shadowing if applicable
  3. Day/month interested in shadowing
  4. Scrub size 

You will then be connected with the appropriate clinical resident, fellow, or Physician’s Assistant to begin your shadowing experience.


Clinical Rotation Opportunities

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery offers three elective courses through the School of Medicine.  They are:

  1. Adult Cardiac Surgery (CTSURG5462)
  2. Adult Thoracic Surgery (CTSURG 5463)
  3. Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery (CTSURG5461)

Go to, and at bottom of page see link for The Zone for specific course catalog and registration information.

Adult Cardiac Surgery (CTSURG5462)


This is a four-week (4) elective that offers a student clinical experience on the adult cardiac surgical service at UPMC Presbyterian. The student will participate in the peroperative, intraoperative and postoperative care of a variety of patients suffering from acquired cardiac diseases, including but not limited to coronary artery disease, valvular disease, and end-stage ventricular failure. The student will be required to grasp anatomic concepts that will be reviewed from preoperative studies and available for intraoperative interpretation. Highly valued will be work in the ICU and on the floor in the management of patients to promote a better understanding of the physiology involved. 


  1. Diagnosis and management of patients with acquired disease of the heart, including coronary artery disease, valvular diseases, arrhythmias, and aortic diseases.
  2. Become familiar with mediastinal and cardiac anatomy and participate regularly in the operating room.
  3. Become familiar with the cardiac pathophysiology in perioperative patients.
  4. Develop surgical skills while assisting in opening and closing incisions.
  5. Become involved with management of patients transferred to the floor for recovery after ICU care, participate on patient rounds in the ICU and on the floor.
  6. Become familiar with the evaluation and use of cardiac diagnostic studies, including echocardiograms, cardiac MRI and cardiac catheterization.

Prerequisite:  Surgery & Perioperative Care and either Adult Inpatient Medicine or Pediatric Inpatient Medicine 

Adult Thoracic Surgery (CTSURG 5463)


The student works on Dr. Luketich's service. The Thoracic Division of UPMC is one of the largest thoracic surgical services in the world. The student should understand that traditionally Cardiothoracic Surgery includes all of the organs and surgical diseases of the chest including the heart, great vessels, lung, esophagus, mediastinum, chest wall and diaphragm. In most academic centers, further specialization has occurred and the Division of Thoracic Surgery at UPMC Health System focuses on benign and malignant surgical problems of the lungs, esophagus, mediastinum, chest wall and diaphragm. Our intense interest in minimally invasive approaches to these diseases has led to a national referral center for laparoscopic and thoracoscopic approaches to achalasia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, giant or paraesophageal hernias and many others. In addition, our Division has developed a minimally invasive approach to some of the most complex operations performed today, including, esophagectomy, lobectomy and others. This rotation does not include exposure to adult or pediatric heart disease and the student should read those descriptions for further information. 


  1. Diagnosis and management of patients with lung and esophageal cancer. The student will see patients in the Hillman Cancer Clinic and participate in the weekly thoracic conferences to discuss specific cases regarding issues related to the pathology (gross and microscopic) radiology, radiation oncology, medical oncology and surgical approaches to each patient.
  2. Diagnosis and management of benign esophageal disorders. This clinic takes place in the Digestive Disorders Clinic and includes exposure to patients with esophageal motility disordres, gastroesohageal reflux disease and hiatal hernia.
  3. Participate in surgical cases including preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative care. the student will be able to choose from a variety of diagnoses and observe and participate in the care of these patients. This will include inpatient rounds.

Prerequisite: Surgery & Perioperative Care and either Adult Inpatient Medicine or Pediatric Inpatient Medicine 

Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery (CTSURG5461)


This four-week elective offers the student clinical experience on the cardiothoracic surgical service at Children's. Students actively participate in the care of the pediatric cardiac surgical patient, and attend weekly medical/surgical cardiology conferences at Children's. Areas covered by this elective include various types of congenital heart disease, the physiology and pathophysiology and the current methods of operative intervention for palliation or repair. If student's interest and volume of clinical work permit, time can be spent as a participant in clinical or laboratory research in progress. This elective is ideally suited for those students interested in pediatrics, cardiology or surgery. 


  1. Clinical approach to diagnosis and management of various forms of cyanotic and acyanotic congenital heart disease
  2. Place of echocardiography and basic interpretation of echocardiography in congenital heart disease
  3. Interpretation of invasive cardiac catheterization and various forms of congenital heart disease
  4. Various operative interventions designed for palliation and/or correction of a broad spectrum of congenital heart disease
  5. Clinical preparation required prior to operative intervention in neonates, infants and children with congenital heart disease 
  6. Critical care management principles involved in the postoperative care of children undergoing open and closed cardiac surgery
  7. Post-critical care management of children recovering from cardiac surgery and the expectations for long-term follow up
  8. Appropriate dialogue which must exist between the physician and the parents of children undergoing operative treatment for congenital heart disease
  9. Interpret non-invasive and invasively acquired information regarding heart disease in children
  10. Participate in the operative procedure
  11. Make use of the Cardiac Pathology Museum at Children's for the study of various forms of congenital heart disease
  12. Participate in the ongoing critical care management of postoperative patients
  13. Understand and describe the principles of postoperative monitoring of the cardiothoracic pediatric patient
  14. Become familiar with various cardiovascular drugs used in the critical care management of cardiothoracic surgery patients
  15. Become familiar with various pediatric drug dose schedules used in the management of children with heart disease
  16. Become familiar with the interpretation of electrocardiographic abnormalities in patients undergoing pediatric cardiac surgery

Requirements: Daily participation in operative cases. Daily rounds with faculty. Changes must be made four (4) weeks in advance.

Prerequisite: Surgery & Perioperative Care and either Adult Inpatient Medicine or Pediatric Inpatient Medicine. 


Mentored Research

Medical students interested in pursuing mentored research can contact the department to learn more about the types of research available. Students can review the list of faculty member research interests and projects in order to identify overlapping interests.  Students may then contact Christine Carey for help in connecting with a faculty member.  Be sure to include your current position, how much time you are interesting in committing, any relevant experience, and a project that you are interested in.

The vast majority of research projects in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery involve clinical data or tissues from human subjects (patients).  At a minimum, before medical students can start on a research project, the following courses must be completed:

CITI - Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative
The required modules from the CITI site are:

  • CITI Biomedical Human Subjects Research
  • CITI Biomedical Responsible Conduct of Research

ISER - Internet-based Studies in Education and Research
The required module from the ISER site is:

  • ISER HIPAA Researchers Privacy Requirements (Formerly RPF Module 6)


Cardiothoracic Surgery Interest Group

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Interest Group at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is dedicated to providing information and opportunities for medical students interested in cardiac and general thoracic surgery. The goal of the interest group is to expose medical students to the various subspecialties in cardiothoracic surgery. Throughout the year, we invite faculty members and residents from the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery to engage in events at the School of Medicine that help enrich the educational experiences of the students.

For upcoming events, inquiries and information, please contact:

Group Coordinator: Angela Kinnunen (

Faculty Advisor: Ibrahim Sultan, MD,FACC (

Fellow/Resident Advisor: Olugbenga Okusanya, MD (

Student Leaders:

Kara Lynne Mclain (

Barrett Hawkins (

Fahdem Iamrl (