Cardiothoracic Surgeon Job Description

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a cardiothoracic surgeon. You can use our job description template in this article to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a cardiothoracic surgeon.


Who is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon?

A Cardiothoracic Surgeon is a physician with a specialization in surgeries on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. Cardiothoracic surgeons are crucial members of the medical staff in a healthcare facility. They treat disorders that affect the tissues and skeletal structures that make up the chest cavity as well as the internal organs of the chest. A patient’s primary care physician makes the initial diagnosis of heart disease and then refers them to a cardiologist. If the patient’s cardiologist determines that surgery is necessary, he or she will then recommend a cardiothoracic surgeon, who joins the patient’s heart-health team to perform the surgery.

Cardiothoracic surgery has several subspecialties, including adult cardiac surgery, pediatric cardiac surgery, general thoracic surgery (for esophageal and lung problems), congenital cardiac surgery, and surgery for heart and lung transplants. Heart valve blockages, leaky heart valves, abnormal enlargement or aneurysms of the major arteries in the chest, atrial fibrillation, and coronary artery disease are all conditions that a cardiothoracic surgeon can treat. An important aspect of a cardiothoracic surgeon’s job is keeping track of patients in intensive care. Cardiothoracic surgery is relatively safe, however, complications including abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmias), stroke, postoperative hemorrhage, fluid around the lungs, infection, or thrombosis can happen occasionally.

These specialists provide treatments including radiofrequency ablation for atrial fibrillation, lung and esophagus resection, mitral and aortic valve replacement and repair, ventricular restoration, and coronary artery bypass grafting. While treating patients with lung cancer, they may employ cardiac support devices, and assess mediastinal lesions. Surgeons speak with patients before they go through the diagnosis and answer any questions about the procedure. They then check up with the patient after surgery to make sure their recovery is going well.

As a cardiothoracic surgeon, you’ll probably be involved in diagnosing heart issues, explaining treatment options to patients and other medical professionals, carrying out straightforward and complex heart operations, observing patient recovery, and staying up to date on the latest developments in medical and cardiothoracic technology. Usually, you’ll spend a lot of time getting ready for your next surgery or in the operating room. To become a surgeon, you must first have a bachelor’s degree. Although there isn’t a set major that is required, it is strongly advised that you consider majoring in the sciences, such as biology or chemistry. You need to be passionate about cardiothoracic surgery, have strong research abilities, and be able to handle stress well if you want to be a successful cardiothoracic surgeon. An outstanding cardiothoracic surgeon should be able to work long and irregular hours, think logically and methodically, and exhibit great interpersonal skills.


Cardiothoracic Surgeon Job Description

Below are the cardiothoracic surgeon job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The duties and responsibilities of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon include the following:

  • Decide the method of surgical procedures.
  • Handle medical management.
  • Ensure to have a specialty in diagnoses.
  • Examine the history of the patient to determine treatment.
  • Make plans in compliance with the rules and laws of the procedure.
  • Offer children and infants surgical heart abnormalities treatment, such as patching up holes in the heart with tissue from the patient.
  • Perform lung surgery, such as lobectomies, resections, biopsies, or pleurectomy
  • Execute heart surgery, including coronary artery bypass grafts (CABG), valve replacements, and other cardiac operations
  • Conduct diagnostic procedures such as stress testing, echocardiograms, and cardiac catheterization.
  • Create treatment programs for patients with cardiac conditions in collaboration with medical personnel.
  • Identify patients who might benefit from surgery by evaluating them.
  • Inform patients and their families of the risks and advantages of surgery.
  • Create surgical strategies based on the unique requirements of each patient.
  • Perform procedures to treat emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease
  • Keep an eye on patients throughout surgery and make any necessary modifications
  • Give patients and their families postoperative care and guidance.
  • Maintain thorough records of each patient’s condition and care.
  • Keep up on the most recent developments in cardiothoracic surgery
  • Keep up-to-date on all relevant medical research in their area of expertise.
  • Go for continuing education programs and activities to achieve board certification and maintain licensure requirements.
  • Counsel patients on lifestyle adjustments that can enhance their health after surgery
  • Collaborate with other members of the healthcare team including nurses, technicians, therapists, and dieticians to offer extensive care to patients.
  • Identify tests and the need for follow-up appointments.



  • A doctorate in medicine is required.
  • Must have a thorough work experience as a cardiothoracic surgeon.
  • Must possess the licensure to practice.
  • Ability to perform effectively under pressure.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Patience and compassion.
  • Communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Attention to detail.


Essential Skills

  • Surgical skills: Cardiothoracic surgeons operate on patients using their surgical skills. With this skill, Cardiothoracic Surgeons would be able to carry out procedures precisely and accurately. They also need to be able to multitask because they could have to carry out multiple distinct operations at once.
  • Physical strength: A Cardiothoracic Surgeon must maintain a healthy lifestyle to possess more stamina and mental focus. They must maintain their health if they are to handle a stressful scenario. Being a cardiothoracic surgeon demands you to be vigilant, especially when performing surgeries, which can last up to 8 hours or longer.
  • Communication skills: Communication skills required from time to time with patients, other healthcare providers, and patients’ relatives are essential for cardiothoracic surgeons. They must be able to communicate complicated medical concepts to patients clearly and concisely. Additionally, they must be able to respond to any inquiries their patients may have regarding the treatment and the healing process.
  • Critical thinking skills: Cardiothoracic surgeons can examine situations and make wise decisions when they can think critically. Critical thinking skills help them make choices regarding the care of patients, available treatments, and surgical procedures. If a patient’s condition changes, they also use critical thinking skills to modify their treatment plans.
  • Learning skills: Learning is always beneficial for staying current with trends and methods in every field. Hence, learning skills is one of the essential skills needed to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. Learning skills will foster knowing how to perform tests and inspect tools, services, or workflows to gauge the quality and the tools required for a job.
  • Teamwork skills: Teams of cardiothoracic surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other surgeons perform surgeries together. Therefore, to collaborate effectively and give their patients the best care possible, Cardiothoracic Surgeons must be able to communicate clearly with one another.
  • Technical skills: Cardiothoracic surgeons undertake surgeries and conduct data analysis using technical skills. To discover the best course of treatment for their patients, they employ technical skills to read and interpret medical records, scan and read images, and carry out research.
  • Science skills: In this profession, having a thorough understanding of and passion for the subject matter is essential. A deep interest in medical science and fields related to it is essential for becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.
  • Leadership skills: A strong sense of leadership is essential for becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. This is because you’ll be guiding residents and other clinicians on how to give your patients the best care possible. You will be in charge of organizing your patient’s preoperative treatment and any postoperative care that he requires. You’ll need to get along with nurses, family doctors in general, and other hospital staff members. You should have conviction in the choices you make for the treatment of your patients and be able to inspire others to give them the best care possible.


How to Become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Step 1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

You must complete a bachelor’s degree in a medical or health-related discipline before pursuing a medical degree. Cardiothoracic surgeons frequently hold college degrees in pre-medicine, biology, and chemistry. You must enroll in classes that will help you get ready for the subsequent steps in becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon throughout your undergraduate years. Understanding how the human body functions and how cardiothoracic surgery contributes to preserving its functionality can be learned via courses in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and microbiology.

Step 2. Attend medical school

Prospective cardiothoracic surgeons must undergo medical school after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. During the four years of medical school, students get both classroom instruction and practical training in hospitals and clinics. You will put a lot of effort into understanding the fundamentals of human anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology throughout your first two years of medical school. You will also learn professional ethics and patient care. You will put more of an emphasis on clinical practice and acquiring experience working with patients during your last two years of medical school while being supervised by more experienced doctors.

Step 3. Complete residency program

To obtain your medical license, you must pass a licensure exam after concluding your residency program. Depending on the specialty you intend to practice, several exams are required. You might be required to pass both the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam (MCCEE) and the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to perform cardiothoracic surgery. The MCCEE examines your understanding of fundamental scientific ideas in a more generalized manner. The USMLE is more specialized and assesses your clinical medicine expertise. The two tests must be passed to receive your medical license.

Step 4. Acquire experience

You must complete a general surgery residency program after obtaining your medical degree. You can get experience during this period operating on the heart, lungs, and other thoracic organs. By completing rotations in cardiac and thoracic surgery, you can also decide to focus on cardiothoracic surgery at this time. Your primary focus during your first year of residency will probably be mastering open-heart procedures. To access the heart and either repair it or replace it with an artificial device, requires making incisions in both the chest wall and the ribs. Additionally, you can study how to put tubes into patients’ lungs to remove fluid and cure ailments like emphysema. Students may apply for a fellowship after completing a residential program. Fellowships, which range in duration from one to three years, give students the chance to focus on a particular branch of cardiothoracic surgery. Students will work under the direction of a cardiothoracic surgeon during a fellowship. They will also get the chance to carry out surgery while being supervised by a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Step 5. Stay informed about the latest change in the field

Cardiothoracic surgeons need to keep up with the most recent research in their profession. Cardiothoracic surgeons’ work may be affected by the continually evolving medical technologies and techniques. For instance, new surgical methods may be created that enable quicker or more accurate procedures. Consider reading relevant journals and going to conferences held by professional associations like the American College of Cardiology to make sure you’re always up to date on changes in your profession.

Step 6. Join professional associations

An association called the American College of Surgeons is responsible for training and certifying surgeons. You must first complete a residency program in general surgery or cardiothoracic surgery before you may enroll in the college. After that, you must pass a test on surgical concepts and procedures. For cardiothoracic surgeons who want to focus on a particular specialty, the college also offers extra qualifications.

Step 7. Obtain certification and licensure

Cardiothoracic surgeons must have to obtain licensure before they could practice in their state or district. The procedure for obtaining licensure varies from state to state, but usually, candidates must take and pass a medical certification exam, like the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). The American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) also offers certifications to Cardiothoracic Surgeons.


Where to Work as a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Cardiothoracic surgeons typically work in medical centers and hospitals (private and public). They also work in Universities and research institutes. Cardiothoracic Surgeons typically work long hours and night shifts. They are required to always be on call at every point in time because of emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. They may have to work on weekends and during holidays to meet up with the demands of patients. Cardiothoracic surgeons may equally have to work extra time to get things done. They may also have to travel to other hospitals and medical centers to consult other Cardiothoracic Surgeons on cases or to conduct surgery.


Cardiothoracic Surgeon Salary Scale

For Cardiothoracic Surgeon, salary ranges can vary widely depending on many significant factors, such as level of education, certifications, extra skills, and years of experience in the profession. In the US, the average salary of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon is $500,200 per year. The salary range typically falls between $400,900 and $627,000 per year.

In the UK, the average salary of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon is £240,148 per year. The salary range typically falls from £155,624 to  £334,458 per year. In Canada, the average salary of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon is $534,279 per year. The salary typically ranges from $428,236 to $669,760 per year. In Nigeria, the average salary of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon is 17,000,000 NGN per year. The salary range is usually between 8,484,000 NGN and 26,280,000 NGN per year.

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