About the Program

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery offers a six-year integrated cardiothoracic surgical training program. The objective of our training program is to provide a comprehensive and immersive experience into the diagnosis, management and treatment of all aspects of cardiovascular and thoracic diseases. During your time at Iowa, you will have core rotations in adult cardiac and thoracic surgery at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics and pediatric congenital surgery at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. 

During the first three years of the program (PGY1 through PGY3), residents spend time on both general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery rotations. Multi-disciplinary education is emphasized through time on vascular and endovascular surgery, cardiac catheterization, echocardiography, cardiac electrophysiology, surgical oncology, interventional radiology, gastroenterology, and interventional pulmonology.

In your final years of the program (PGY4 through PGY6), training will consist of comprehensive and broad experience with adult and pediatric cardiac surgery, as well as general thoracic surgery. Rotations are flexible and rotation experience may vary depending on individual interest. Residents will assume increasing administrative responsibilities during their final years to provide experience in managing busy clinical services and organizing educational curriculums for their peers.

At Iowa, our curriculum is flexible, offering pathways in either cardiac or general thoracic surgery. Upon graduation, residents are eligible for the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) qualifying and certifying exams setting them up for successful careers in academic or private practice settings.


University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics Thoracic Surgery Residency Program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and is Iowa’s only cardiothoracic training program. Our traditional fellowship has been in existence since 1949, the first year the American Board of Thoracic Surgery recognized training programs and is one of the three oldest programs in the country. Our integrated residency program received accreditation in 2014 and accepted its first resident starting July of 2015.

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery has continually been on the forefront of innovation and technological advancements in cardiac, thoracic, and pediatric cardiac surgery. Our faculty and trainees continue with this spirit of hard work and diligence in the fight against chest disease.

Typical Schedule

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery offers one position in its thoracic surgery integrated residency each year. In addition to training at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics and UI Stead Family Children's Hospital, each resident will also spend time at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (walking distance).

Thoracic residents work side-by-side in the clinic, OR, in research and other duties with each faculty member, Advance Practice Providers (APPs), and fellow physicians. This work is in an environment consistent with proper patient care, educational needs, and adhering to the program requirements.

A sample training program is listed below. During some general surgery rotations, there will time spent at off-site locations for high-volume general surgery experiences. This schedule is only an example: there may be variations throughout each year.



Number of Blocks
VA General Surgery 1
Cardiac Cath/ECHO 1
Bronchoscopy/GI 1
Vascular Surgery  1
Emergency General Surgery  1
Night Float 1
Minimally Invasive Surgery 1
Transplant 1
Pediatric Surgery 1
General Thoracic Surgery 1
Trauma Surgery  1


Specialty Number of Blocks
Adult Cardiac Surgery  2
General Thoracic Surgery  1
Mason City General Surgery 1
Pediatric Surgery 1
Emergency General Surgery  2
Vascular Surgery 2
Night Float 1
Minimally Invasive Surgery 1


Specialty Number of Blocks
Adult Cardiac Surgery  3
General Thoracic Surgery  4
Pediatric Cardiac Surgery 1
Transplant 2
Vascular Surgery 1
Night Float 1
Emergency General Surgery 1

PGY-4, PGY-5 & PGY-6

Number of Blocks Per Specialty Varies by Year
General Thoracic Surgery 
Adult Cardiac Surgery 
Pediatric Cardiac Surgery



Research in the department of cardiothoracic surgery is diverse and robust and an integral part of our mission at Iowa. Research opportunities in adult cardiac, general thoracic, and pediatric cardiac surgery include outcomes research, clinical trials, quality improvement initiatives, education, case reports, and basic science. While not required, we actively support and encourage our residents to identify projects of interest and work to submit their research to national meetings and for publication.




Our integrated program includes training in new technologies such as robotics, endoscopic surgery, and minimally invasive approaches. This innovation is centered on a streamlined curriculum to prepare for successful careers in academic or private practice.  Much of the training is done in the state of the art Center for Procedural Skills and Simulation where were we set aside time for skills training and offer a resident skills boot camp as part of our educational cirriculum.  

Here at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, our goal is "Changing Medicine. Changing Lives". We challenge medicine each day and in doing this, we prepare our residents to be compassionate and innovative surgeons.

Conference Schedule

This is a sample weekly conference schedule. Those marked with an asterisk are specific to the Department of Cardiothoracic. The others are general surgery specific and are attended based on service rotation and availability.


7 AM – Cardiothoracic Resident Conference*
7 AM – Junior/Senior Resident Education Conference
12 PM – Emergency General Surgery Conference
5 PM – Surgical Oncology Teaching Conference


6:30 AM – Surgical Audit Conference
6:45 AM – Adult Cardiac Resident Teaching Session*
7 AM – Thoracic Tumor Board*
7:15 AM – Adult Cardiac High-Risk Conference*
8 AM – Vascular VA Conference M&M
8AM - Issues in Transplantation Conference 
11AM - Pediatric Surgery Teaching Rounds
4PM - Vascular Surgery Education Conferences


7AM - Cardiothoracic Grand Rounds*(2nd Wednesday of the month)
7AM - Supplemental Education Conference* (4th Wednesday of the month)
3PM - Liver Transplant Evaluation Conference


7AM - Trauma Conference
7AM - Thoracic Case Review Conference*
7:15AM - Cardiology/Cardiothoracic Conference*


7 AM – Adult Cardiac Team ICU Rounds*
1 PM - Surgical Skills Lab