The Thoracic Surgery Medical Student Association: Understanding the needs of medical students pursuing cardiothoracic surgery in the United States

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery




CT training; education; match; medical students; mentorship


OBJECTIVE: Founded in 2020, the Thoracic Surgery Medical Student Association is the first national organization dedicated to supporting medical students interested in pursuing cardiothoracic surgery. Our inaugural survey aimed to describe their basic characteristics and needs. METHODS: An Institutional Review Board-approved, nonincentivized, anonymous electronic survey was distributed to any medical students enrolled in Liaison Committee on Medical Education-accredited medical schools through social media such as Twitter, national organizations (Association of Women Surgeons, Thoracic Surgery Resident Association), and medical school cardiothoracic surgery interest groups. Their basic characteristics, attitudes, and preferences regarding cardiothoracic surgery were recorded. RESULTS: Of the 167 students from 117 unique schools who completed the survey, 53% identified as White and 57% identified as female. Stages of training were well distributed: 16% first-year medical students, 33% second-year medical students, 16% third-year medical students, 21% fourth-year medical students, and 14% dual degree/research students. Most participants (57%) did not have (32%) or were not aware of having (25%) a thoracic surgery training program at their home institution. The majority (72%) of students reported not having a cardiothoracic surgery interest group at their home institution. The most desired areas of cardiothoracic were networking (31%) and mentorship (28%). CONCLUSIONS: There is a significant need to directly engage medical students who are interested in cardiothoracic surgery considering limited exposure at home institutions through a lack of cardiothoracic surgery interest groups and cardiothoracic residency programs. The Thoracic Surgery Medical Student Association is poised to address these areas with directed networking by connecting cardiothoracic surgery faculty and residents from other institutions with medical students interested in pursuing cardiothoracic surgery.


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