Thoracic Surgery Education & Research

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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 thoracic surgery and lung transplantation to provide additional specialized clinical and research training to physicians who will be returning to an academic position upon program completion. The Thoracic Surgery Fellowships span from six months to two years, while the Lung Transplant Fellowships span from six months to one year. During this time, Fellows will be exposed to a mix of cases and may participate in elective rotations, lecture series, journal clubs, institutional rounds and conferences. If desired, training from both fellowship programs can be incorporated.

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

The Fellowship Director for Thoracic Surgery is Dr. Thomas Waddell.​

Resident Program

The University of Toronto offers a Thoracic Surgery Residency Program that is intended for surgeons who have completed postgraduate training in General Surgery and must have had an approved Senior Residency year in General Surgery. Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at UHN are two of seven hospital sites that Residents rotate through over the course of two years. Residents will be trained in the modern medical, surgical and treatment methods and gain exposure to the Division's unique programs like the Interventional Thoracic Surgical Suite, Pulmonary Endarterectomy Program, Mesothelioma Program and Lung Volume Reduction Program.

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 thoracic surgery.

Many of these 'SSTP residents' are under 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, thoracic surgery grand rounds and M & M 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 thoracic 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 Thoracic Surgery at the University of Toronto and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN.

The Residency Program Director for Thoracic Surgery at Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto is Dr. Andrew Pierre.


Dr. George Oreopoulos and Dr. Caleb Zavitz
Every year the UHN Department of Surgery hosts a Holiday Fun Rounds in December as an opportunity for the residents, fellows and other staff to show their 'appreciation and affection' for all the surgical staff. In 2019, Vascular Surgery won the award for best rounds presentation. Here, Dr. George Oreopoulos is shown presenting the award to then chief resident Dr. Caleb Zavitz.​

Research

Research is integral to many of the educational programs supported by the Division of Thoracic Surgery. The Division's surgeons lead cutting-edge research programs and are appointed, affiliate or clinical scientists in Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, the Techna Institute or The Institute for Education Research at UHN:




Research areas of interest include lung perfusion and transplant, gene therapy, regenerative medicine, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, minimally invasive diagnostics and artificial lung devices.

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

More information on the research being done at UHN and the University of Toronto can be found here:

Undergraduate Program

University of Toronto Medical Students

The Division of Thoracic 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 Thoracic 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 a thoracotomy or thoracoscopy with lung resection, a bronchoscopy mediastinoscopy or endobronchial ultrasound, and a procedure on the esophagus
  • Assess patients with a pleural space problem, pulmonary nodule or mass, dysphagia or GERD
  • Interpret chest X-rays or CT scans for pneumothorax, pleural effusion or lung masses
  • Assist with or perform chest tube insertions
  • Assess or troubleshoot chest tube drainage systems
  • Follow a patient from pulmonary resection surgery to discharge from hospital

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 Thoracic 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.​