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Our Programs

Our commitment to education includes teaching undergraduate and postgraduate trainees, as well as other health care professionals. Due to our clinical diversity and case volumes, UHN has the largest clinical fellowship program in Canada. On any given day, learners at all levels, including medical students, residents, fellows and observers, can be found in our division. Below is a list of our educational and research programs.

Some education programs at UHN may be suspended or modified at this time. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.

Fellowship Program

The University of Toronto offers Clinical Fellowships in cardiac surgery through its affiliated hospital sites to provide additional specialized clinical and research training to physicians who will be returning to an academic position upon program completion. At UHN, Toronto General Hospital offers 5 to 6 Cardiac Surgery Clinical Fellowships every year. Fellows will be exposed to a mix of cases and may participate in lecture series, journal clubs, institutional rounds and conferences. Fellows will gain experience in a range of adult cardiac surgical services including straightforward and complex coronary and valve surgery, aortic root and thoracic arch reconstructive surgery, pacemaker and arrhythmia surgery, mechanical circulatory support (ventricular assist devices and ECMO) and heart transplantation, as well as team-based pre-operative, ICU and ward-based care of cardiac surgical patients. The Cardiac Surgery Clinical Fellowship site lead for Toronto General Hospital is Dr. Maral Ouzounian.

Further information on application requirements and procedures as well as other details on the Fellowship Program is provided by the Division of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

The Division of Cardiovascular Surgery also participates in the Advanced Aortic Surgery Fellowship. This multisite fellowship (shared with St. Michael's Hospital and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) is open to Cardiovascular or Vascular Surgery applicants who wish to pursue an academic career in the management of complex aortic problems. Potential applicants should contact Dr. Thomas Forbes.

Resident Program

The University of Toronto offers two cardiac residency streams to train the next generation of cardiac surgeons. Residency can either be entered as a three-year program following completion of general surgery or as a six-year program following medical school clerkship. Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital at UHN is one of four hospitals that Residents rotate through. Residents will be trained in the modern medical, surgical and treatment methods and gain exposure to UHN's subspecialties in cardiac valve and thoracic aorta/arch procedures, pacemaker/arrhythmia surgery, mechanical circulatory support, cardiac transplantation and percutaneous heart valve deployment.

Residents will be able to apply to the Surgeon Scientist Training Program (SSTP) to complete a Masters or PhD level research project in preparation for an academic career in cardiovascular surgery. Many of these SSTP residents are under the supervision of UHN faculty.

Residents are evaluated in the clinical setting by their supervisor(s), and are encouraged to develop autonomy and skills that will help them on their path toward independent practice.

Resident education includes didactic teaching sessions with specific topics presented over the duration of their rotation, simulation sessions, oral exam practice sessions, cardiac surgery seminars, education and research rounds. In addition, journal club rounds are offered periodically.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of these formal rounds have been shifted to a virtual format.

Daily Teaching

An important focus of our postgraduate resident education program is the daily teaching, which consists of: informal and formal teaching sessions through resident and Faculty as well as fellow interactions on the ward, in the clinic, the operating room, and on-call.

The entire teaching series has been designed to allow important basic and subspecialty cardiac surgery lectures to be completed during each resident rotation.

Most of our staff participate in these teaching sessions. To ensure a comprehensive curriculum, we include teaching by our non-physician healthcare colleagues, where appropriate.

Further information on application requirements and procedures as well as other details on the Residency Program is provided by the Division of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

Research

Research is integral to many of the educational programs supported by the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery. All of the Division's surgeons lead cutting-edge research programs and are appointed, affiliated or clinical scientists in Toronto General Hospital Research Institute at UHN:





Research areas of interest include heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support, ex vivo cardiac allograft perfusion and preservation, complex valvular reconstruction, long-term outcomes of valve repair or replacement, complex open and endovascular aortic surgery, cardiac tumours, and stem cell therapies for heart failure.

Some of our surgeons hold additional appointments in departments at the University of Toronto beyond their appointments with the Department of Surgery, such as:

For more information on the research being done at UHN and the University of Toronto:

Undergraduate Program

University of Toronto Medical Students

The Division of Cardiovascular Surgery has a significant role in Undergraduate Education at the University of Toronto.

The University offers core and elective experience for its undergraduate Medical Students. First- and second-year students have the opportunity to do clinical electives, meet with surgeons, and do summer research projects. Students in their third year can rotate with the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery as Clinical Clerks. As Clerks, students will be assigned to a team where they will be integrated into the daily patient care activities. By being in the clinic and operating room as well as participating in rounds, Clerks will be exposed to an overview of the different types of surgical problems and care.

During their rotation, students may have the opportunity to:

  • Observe valve repair or replacement and coronary artery bypass grafting procedures
  • Be involved in patient assessment and management for patients with atrial fibrillation, patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting and patients with symptoms of valve disease
  • Perform a subcuticular closure of a leg wound incision and a transthoracic implantation of a chest tube during coronary bypass surgery

The clinical experience is complemented by the option to contribute to clinical or basic research.

Further information on Undergraduate education is provided by the University of Toronto.


Elective Program

The Division of Cardiovascular Surgery accepts Elective Students from universities across Canada and abroad.


Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students (CREMS)

The CREMS Summer Program provides medical students with the opportunity to obtain research experience during the summer months.

The CREMS Summer Program is open to first- and second-year medical students at the University of Toronto.

Applications are submitted, reviewed, ranked and selected by the CREMS Director and a review panel of three other faculty members.

Students in the program present their work at the University of Toronto Medical Student Research Day, which is held in the following year with a poster presentation. Supervisors ensure that students receive the appropriate training needed to conduct their research projects.

Further information is provided by the CREMS office at the University of Toronto.


Patient as Teacher Program

The third-year surgical clerkship for undergraduate medical students at the University of Toronto integrates the Patient as Teacher program. Comprising three workshops and production of a creative reflection piece, this program aims to promote humanism and patient-centred approaches in medicine. Patients share their experiences and insights to provide students with the patient perspective of the surgical journey.

Further information on the Patient as Teacher program »


Artwork by University of Toronto surgical clerks
Artwork by University of Toronto surgical clerks George Ho (left) and Sivaani Sivaselvachandran (right).

Observerships

The Observerships program at UHN provides health care professionals and students from around the world the opportunity to observe examinations and other procedures performed by UHN staff physicians, surgeons, nurses, and health professionals. All Observers require a UHN sponsor—a clinical or surgical staff member who will be responsible for the Observer's learning experience. It is the observer's responsibility to connect with a sponsor and then proceed with the application process.

In addition to the general Observerships program, the International Centre for Education at UHN's Michener Institute of Education offers the Personalized Learning Program.

Personalized Learning Program (PLP)

The PLP at UHN is a fully customizable, observership-based program designed to meet learner goals and objectives. No two PLPs are exactly the same! Various resources and expertise throughout UHN are leveraged to enhance the learning experience. The program office works closely with host program(s) and learners to develop an Education Plan, outlining the activities of the PLP which are meant to meet the learning objectives. One-on-one coaching time and check-ins are also scheduled throughout the program, as needed. Learners are asked to provide a short presentation at the end of the program to summarize their learning and provide feedback. Learners also receive a UHN-Michener Certificate of Completion at the end of the program.

Depending on the PLP, the program may also be done virtually. A virtual PLP will provide one-on-one or group mentorship-like experiences and masterclasses with UHN clinicians and leaders. The virtual programs will be designed around and focused on meeting learners' personalized learning needs and objectives.

Further information on the PLP is available from the International Centre for Education.