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Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery


MUSC CT Surgery Education Program

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Educational Program at the Medical University of South Carolina is a six-year integrated program in which a resident is matched out of medical school at the PG-1 level. Residents for the integrated program apply in their fourth year of medical school, similar to standard applications for other residency programs. Upon completion of an integrated residency, residents are eligible to sit for ABTS certification. One position is matched each year.


MUSC’s Cardiothoracic Surgical Residency training program began in the early 1960’s with a two-year traditional program and was one of the first programs in the country to expand to a three-year program in 1987.   The traditional program was deactivated after the six-year integrated program was up and running with a full complement of residents.

The six-year integrated CT residency program was developed in 2007 with residents matching directly out of medical school. This was approved by the Thoracic Surgery Residency Review Committee in July 2008, and the first six-year program resident began training July 1, 2009. Our program is proud to be one of the first three programs along with Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania to pioneer the six-year integrated program.  

It is significant to note that the program at MUSC has a strong and solid history having been continuously accredited by the ACGME for over 30 years with no citations. 


The rotation schedule for the first three years of the six-year program includes some traditional general surgery rotations with a five-month rotation in the third year at a community hospital. Rotations in related specialties (heart failure, imaging, echo, interventional radiology, etc.) throughout the first two years provide in depth exposure to these disciplines which relate closely to cardiothoracic surgery. Increasing exposure to cardiothoracic surgery itself will occur in each of the first three years. The final three years is dedicated to increased emphasis on cardiothoracic surgery. Operative experience has historically exceeded ABTS requirements. 

The overall CT residency program includes rotations at the new Ashley River Tower facility, MUSC Children’s Hospital, and the Ralph Johnson VA Hospital. Ashley River Tower has facilities for the complete care of the adult cardiothoracic and vascular patient including chest pain center, out-patient clinics, wards, ICUs, operating rooms, etc. This facility opened in February 2008 and is absolute state-of-the-art in every respect, but especially in the cardiothoracic surgery operating rooms click here for virtual tour ) . A hybrid operating room with state-of-the-art imaging equipment for endovascular and other procedures is also available. Immediately next door to the Ashley River Tower is the Ralph Johnson VA Hospital which houses a very important component of the CT residency program. Both cardiac and general thoracic procedures are performed in that facility for veterans referred from throughout South Carolina. The MUSC Children’s Hospital is one block away and houses the congenital heart surgery component of the residency. Children with congenital heart disease in South Carolina are cared for through the South Carolina Children’s Heart Network, and any patients requiring surgery have it performed at MUSC Children’s Hospital.

The MUSC CT Surgery Residency Program has been fully compliant with the 80-hour-work-week since it was begun in July, 2003. In order to do this, residents and faculty are assisted by a compliment of experienced physician extenders. These individuals alternate with general surgery PG-1 residents for in-house call on an alternating basis. Physician extenders also provide continuity of care for the wards and clinics and do admission workups.  

The residency program includes two major teaching conferences. The first is a Tuesday morning didactic session which follows the curriculum recommended by the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association.  The second major conference is the Wednesday afternoon Service Conference at which all cardiothoracic patients operated upon in the previous week are reviewed for deaths, complications, and interesting teaching points. A Cardiothoracic Journal Club is held monthly off campus at a local restaurant. Other teaching conferences are listed here

Cardiothoracic residents in the final three years of the integrated program are funded to attend one major CT meeting each year. In addition, expenses are funded for any resident who has a paper accepted for presentation at a major meeting.

MUSC residents are recruited from all areas and parts of the United States. After completion of the residency, residents have entered both academic and private practice depending upon their interests. ABTS Board pass rates are excellent and well exceed the national average. 


Only applicants with qualifications as required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and American Board of Thoracic Surgery are considered eligible for residency positions.

  • Integrated Program: Completion of an M.D. or D.O. degree from an institution accredited by the Liaison Committee of Medical Education (LCME). Graduates of medical schools from countries other than the United States or Canada must present evidence of final certification by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • Independent Program: Successful completion of surgery residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.


The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina is a participating member of the National Resident Matching Program and accepts applications only through the ERAS system. All applicants are required to complete the universal application form available through the Electronic Residency Application Services of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and submit this along with a curriculum board scores (including ABSITE scores for the independent program applicants), three letters of reference, personal statement, a dean's letter, and medical school transcripts. All applicants must have successfully passed USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 exams (or the equivalent COMLEX Step 3 Exam or MCCQE Parts I and II).

Residents are selected on a fair and equal basis without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin or sexual orientation. Selection of applicants for both programs is based upon qualities such as publications, test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement and upon how an applicant will fit into the department based upon interview. Of particular importance is demonstrated commitment to cardiothoracic surgery. Interested medical students can optimize their chances of getting into the new integrated program by doing more than just their required clinical rotations by either spending time doing cardiothoracic-related research or more focused time in cardiothoracic surgery rotations. It is also strongly encouraged that applicants to the integrated program spend time in clinical rotations on Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina.   Contact the Program Coordinator, Diana Gillard, at 843-792-6296 or by email at for further information regarding scheduling an elective rotation.


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