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Cardiothoracic Surgery

Cardiothoracic Surgery, encompassing Cardiac Surgery and Thoracic Surgery, involves performing procedures such as bypass grafting, and surgery for cancers.

The Royal Society of Medicine offers a range of events for different surgical specialties, including Cardiothoracic Surgery – see a full list on our Events page>>


Entry Route into Cardiothoracic Surgery (Cardiac Surgery and Thoracic Surgery)

Applicants must have completed the two-year Foundation Programme before they are eligible to apply for Core Surgical Training. Core training takes two years (CT1-2) and trainees work in a range of surgical specialties. Six months of this training should be in cardiothoracic surgery. Trainees must pass the examinations for Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) during these first two years of training.

Job Progression as a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Following core training, it is necessary to apply for speciality training in Cardiothoracic Surgery, which takes between six and eight years (ST3-8) to complete.

Trainees can apply for consultant positions six months before obtaining their CCT, and there are opportunities to work in management as a clinical lead, or a clinical or medical director. There are also formal opportunities to become involved in the education and training of junior doctors by working as

Academic Cardiothoracic Surgery Roles

Trainees interested in an academic career can apply for an academic clinical fellowship. Alternatively, trainees can continue the ST clinical training programme after ST4 level.

Competition for Cardiothoracic Surgery Posts

In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 4.6, with 46 applications for 10 posts.  The competition ratio at CT1 for Cardiothoracic Surgery was 6.4, with 64 applications for 10 posts. The competition ratio for Core Surgical Training was 2.56, with 1,608 applications for 629 posts.

In December 2017, there were

Salaries in Cardiothoracic Surgery

The starting salary for junior doctors in England ranges from £26,614 to £46,208, and from £37,923 to £87,521 for speciality doctors. Consultants can expect to earn between £76,761 and £103,490. There are additional supplements for on-call work, antisocial hours, and other commitments. For additional information, please check our page on pay scales.

A Day in the Life of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Daily work includes attending ward rounds, monitoring patients post-operative intensive care, attending ward rounds, running outpatient clinics, and attending multi-disciplinary team meetings. Surgeons are also in theatre between two and three days per week.

Most cardiothoracic surgeons specialise in adult cardiac surgery, general thoracic surgery, congenital cardiac surgery, or heart and lung transplant surgery. However, some consultants choose to combine thoracic, and adult cardiac surgery. There is also a considerable amount of out-of-hours work and a one-in-three on-call rota, including weekends, is not unusual.

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