Cardiothoracic surgeons are specialists concerned with conditions mainly to do with the heart and lungs. This is an area of medicine that requires doctors of the highest quality and professionalism, as they will be dealing with situations in which one slip up can cost a life. It is a lengthy educational process to enter this branch of medicine, and one with a large workload. Whether it is a coronary artery bypass or even a heart or lung transplant, you can be safe in the knowledge that you are truly working to make a difference in people’s lives.

Work activities

The work activities of a cardiothoracic surgeon would include:

  • Using your first-rate knowledge of cardiovascular, physiological and respiratory anatomy to treat patients.
  • Analysing and maintaining patient records.
  • Carrying out physical examinations and other tests including x-rays and MRIs.
  • Carrying out a variety of surgical operations, though they are typically concerned with valves and arteries.
  • Post-operation care is of utmost importance.
  • Research is expected to be carried out in areas of cardiothoracic surgery.
  • You will likely need to be on call for emergencies.
  • The number of operations per week would typically be two or three, dependent on your experience and standing in the profession.
  • The transplant of vital organs such as the heart is becoming more common, though there are still few clinical organisations offering this treatment.
  • Those founded in the profession typically choose to specialise in one particular area, such as cardiac or thoracic surgery.
  • You will need to ensure your attention to detail and hand-eye coordination is of excellent standard.

Essential skills

  • You will need to have excellent understanding of biology, physiology and other scientific areas.
  • A surgeon will need to have excellent dexterity.
  • You will need to remain calm in tense situations and be able to make the right decision when under strain.
  • You would be working in a job where any mistake can affect a person’s life, which is why concentration is of great importance.
  • You will need to learn to cope with trauma and death.
  • Attention to detail is paramount.
  • An operation can take hours and will require utmost physical and mental stamina.
  • Research and study will be of great importance during your career in order to keep up-to-date with any new developments in the surgical process.