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Cardiothoracic Surgeon Job Description

cardiothoracic surgeon job description

Are you considering a career as a cardiothoracic surgeon?

Also known as cardiac surgeons, these specialists perform operations to treat heart and lung conditions. This includes techniques such as mitral and aortic valve repair and replacement and coronary artery bypass grafting.

This is a position of high responsibility, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get there. It is necessary to have the right blend of technical and soft skills to rise to the challenge.

If you are wondering if you have what it takes to do this job, check out my in-depth cardiothoracic surgeon job description to find out.

the cardiothoracic surgeon job description

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Job Description

From time to time, a hospital or other medical facility may advertise a job opening for a skilled cardiothoracic surgeon. The job description will outline the skills and working conditions of the role. There could also be details of certain specific surgical procedures that the cardiothoracic surgeon will be required to perform.

The job description will also outline the type of skills and personality traits the medical facility is looking for. This will often include soft skills like being able to manage stress well. The job description should also outline the experience and qualifications that applicants need to have.

Typical Cardiothoracic Surgeon Duties and Responsibilities

As a cardiothoracic surgeon, you will have a lot of responsibilities and need to be able to make important decisions. The main responsibility is determining and providing surgical procedures for patients. Here are some of the other key duties and responsibilities of a cardiothoracic surgeon.


You need to be able to plan the timeline of the surgery or other type of procedure. This includes working out several options and consulting with the patient. You need to select the best type of surgery to resolve the problem as efficiently as possible.


It is necessary to be able to manage a team of doctors and other team members. You need to be able to delegate tasks to each member and make sure they are working properly. Management includes understanding the skills of each team member as well as their weaknesses.


You need to make sure that the healthcare environment is safe. This includes supervising the sterilization of the equipment that will be used. In some cases, you may need to supervise the work of a trainee surgeon.

Equipment maintenance

They say a worker is only as good as their tools, and this also applies to a surgeon. You need to have a good understanding of all the tools that could be used during the surgery. You also have to make sure these tools are in good working condition at all times.


You may need to conduct local studies from time to time. Cardiothoracic surgeons are also occasionally requested to assist with industrial research. This involves using the information to make sure the clinical practice being carried out is research-based.

Desirable Cardiothoracic Surgeon Skills

There are also certain soft skills that a cardiothoracic surgeon needs to have. These skills help the surgeon relate to other people and perform at the optimum level. So, let’s take a look at the personal skills a good cardiothoracic surgeon should have.

Leadership Skills

Cardiothoracic surgeons need to be able to take the lead in surgical procedures. They must be able to delegate tasks to other doctors and members of the team. It is essential to be able to guide other people and make sure they work to their full potential.

Interpersonal Skills

It is important to be able to put patients at ease, especially when delivering bad news. While you need to be polite and friendly, you also need to show confidence. This helps the patient to have faith in you, and they will be more likely to follow your advice.

Performing Well Under Pressure

Many cardiothoracic surgeries take place in emergency situations, such as when a patient experiences heart failure. It is important to be able to make quick and insightful decisions about the treatment to provide. Hesitating in these situations could cost the patient their life.


Cardiothoracic surgeons need to be able to work well as part of a team. It is necessary to be able to trust colleagues to do their job and get along with them well. You would usually work closely with cardiologists, pulmonologists, and other doctors to provide the patient with long-term care.

Research skills

It is important to keep up to date with the latest cardiovascular procedures. When you meet a new patient, you need to diagnose their condition accurately. This often requires doing extra research to make sure the diagnosis is accurate and takes all symptoms into account.

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Education Requirements

The first step to becoming a qualified cardiac surgeon is completing a bachelor’s degree program. It is best to take a pre-med major like biology or chemistry. This program usually takes three or four years to complete.

Like all types of surgeons, you then have to graduate from medical school to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. After graduating, you usually need to complete a six-year cardiothoracic surgery residency.

General surgery residency program…

Alternatively, you can complete a five-year general surgery residency program after medical school. You can then join a cardiovascular surgery residency program, which lasts for two or three years.

During the residency program, you will complete rotations in a wide range of areas. You will gain practical experience and education in simple surgeries like hernia repair and appendix removal. The rotations also include more complex procedures that involve the aorta and stomach.

Medical Licensing Exam…

You can apply to join a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery, which lasts for around two years. Once you have completed the fellowship, you need to sit and pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive board certification to work as a cardiothoracic surgeon.

The Cardiothoracic Surgeon Working Environment

You are likely to spend most of your time in the operating room of the hospital or medical clinic. Cardiothoracic surgeons also work in intensive care units and need to constantly monitor the patient’s status. It is important to be able to remain focused for long periods and keep a clear head.

Working hours

Cardiothoracic surgeons are required to work forty hours a week. This can include being on call during weekends, evenings, and public holidays. In an emergency, cardiothoracic surgeons need to be ready to work long shifts. It may also be necessary to work overtime during very busy periods.

Mastering Your Craft And Saving Lives!

Let’s first take a look at a few nursing positions as a matter of interest with my CRNA Job Description, Surgical Nurse Job Description, Operating Room Nurse Job Description, as well as my Top Highest Paying Medical Jobs available to you in 2023.

Next, in our research, we’ve found a selection of textbooks, handbooks, and reviews on Cardiothoracic surgery and related fields.

So, take a look at the following: Mastery of Cardiothoracic Surgery, the Johns Hopkins Textbook of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery (Oxford Specialist Handbooks in Surgery), or how about Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, and the Cardiothoracic Surgery Review, as well as SCHWARTZ’S PRINCIPLES OF SURGERY, The Ventilator Book: Second Edition, and the Mastery of Cardiothoracic Surgery, 2e available online in 2023.

In addition, we recommend the Cardiac Surgery Essentials for Critical Care Nursing, the Manual of Perioperative Care in Adult Cardiac Surgery, or even the Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery and Intensive Care, the Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice, the Kaplan’s Cardiac Anesthesia: In Cardiac and Noncardiac Surgery, and the Khonsari’s Cardiac Surgery: Safeguards and Pitfalls in Operative Technique for even more insight.

Lastly, of course, is the Surgical Suture for Beginners: A complete step-by-step guide for doctors, nurses, & paramedics on surgical knots and suturing techniques in the emergency room, or the Minimally Invasive Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery: Textbook and Atlas, and finally, the Noninvasive Vascular Diagnosis: A Practical Textbook for Clinicians also all available online today.

Final Thoughts

It takes a lot of study and practice to become licensed as a cardiothoracic surgeon. However, this role allows you to make a real difference and change people’s lives for the better.

If you have the skill and dedication, you can also earn a high salary as a cardiothoracic surgeon. The average annual salary for this role is around $360,000 per year. This is considerably higher than the typical surgeon’s salary.

In certain parts of the United States, skilled cardiothoracic surgeons can earn more than $460,000 per year.

All the very best becoming a Cardiothoracic Surgeon!

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