Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship

The academic charge of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Minnesota is to provide the ideal environment to facilitate training cardiovascular and thoracic surgery residents, general surgery residents, and medical students in the discipline of cardiovascular and thoracic surgical sciences.

The residency in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Minnesota has been a three-year residency since 1988. We are a fully accredited ACGME residency that was recently reviewed and awarded accreditation for 5 years through a scheduled review.

There are two residents at each year of the residency, for a total of six residents. Each year, two residents finish the program. The residents receive full training in adult and pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. This position offers vast operative experience in complex adult cardiac surgery, thoracic and minimally invasive thoracic surgery, heart failure intervention, ventricular assist devices, thoracic transplantation, endovascular stenting procedures, and congenital heart surgery.

The resident is the primary surgeon on approximately 80% of all surgical procedures with guided responsibility. The program is designed and has the volume to support tracking. Both cardiothoracic and thoracic track options are available and are tailored to fit the career needs of each resident.

Fellow Perspective - Elan Burton, MD

"Cardiothoracic surgery is a complex evolving field, which can create difficulties in finding a well-rounded and current training program. The University of Minnesota is a training program that has risen to this challenge. As a fellow, you will garner expansive skills by rotating through a VA, university, and private hospital setting. These rotations provide broad-based and specialized learning opportunities in working with very diverse patient populations.

The cardiothoracic team at the University of Minnesota is very dedicated to teaching and is open to tailoring your fellowship experience to your career interest. I have an interest in minimally invasive and endovascular procedures and was afforded the opportunity to spend time with our vascular and cardiology services. The University of Minnesota provides a solid knowledge base to their fellows while keeping pace with changes in the field, making it the optimal place to be trained in cardiothoracic surgery."

Elan C. Burton, MD
Thoracic Surgery Fellow

Fellow Perspective - Bryan Whitson, MD, PhD

"I believe that general thoracic surgery makes great strides in improving the lives of patients who are devastated by these diseases. General thoracic surgery has unbounded potential for expansion and evolution in the future. In order to be on the cutting edge of the field, I felt that training in a high-volume focused academic center that has a multifaceted thoracic oncology experience, a functional foregut surgery experience, an extensive lung transplant experience and an outstanding cardiac experience would provide the environment needed to enable me to realize this vision.

After interviewing I felt that the University of Minnesota had such a program. There is ample thoracic oncology and functional surgery experience in both the open approaches as well as minimally invasive techniques.

Additionally, there is a long-standing cardiac and lung transplant program that fellows are able to participate in. The option of elective rotation time was especially appealing in that skills could be refined or expanded to obviate the need for a super-fellowship that comes with many 2-year programs. The holistic approach to disease management where less traditional, but highly marketable, skills such as endoscopic/endobronchial ultrasound, stent and catheter-based therapies, and esophageal physiology are taught was icing on the cake."

Bryan A. Whitson, MD, PhD
Thoracic Surgery Fellow

Fellow Perspective - Brian Rundall, DO

"The experience I gained on the thoracic surgical services at the University of Minnesota and the VA far surpassed my expectations. The exposure to different diseases was very broad as I was involved in management of benign and malignant diseases of the foregut, lung, mediastinum, diaphragm, and chest. The operative management of each ranged from minimally invasive to maximally invasive. Specifically, I was involved with open, thoracoscopic, and laparoscopic operations and reoperations, endoscopic stenting of the aerodigestive tract, and tumor staging and biopsy via endoscopic ultrasound.

I was very inexperienced at first but was instructed in each modality by very involved teaching staff. With time, as my knowledge base and experience increased, more responsibility was given, until I felt comfortable with the management of very complex patients, and many of the operative modalities."

Brian Rundall, DO
Thoracic Surgery Fellow

Fellow Perspective - Hassan Tetteh, MD

"The University of Minnesota is a very special place, and my experience as a Thoracic Surgery Fellow has been very valuable. I attribute my career success thus far to the University’s faculty, staff, fellow colleagues in training, and the robust innovative environment.

From the day I arrived, I met surgical faculty that were exceptional and dedicated to teaching. They recognized my potential even when I didn’t, and challenged me to be a better physician and surgeon. I accepted their challenges and was better for it. I have been an instrumental member of the cardiovascular medical team at the University of Minnesota that achieved a milestone by performing its first pediatric cardiac “hybrid” procedure.

What I will always remember most about the University of Minnesota is that I was given every opportunity to be successful, and in the process of my training, I have become a part of cardiac surgery history.

Surgeons considering the University of Minnesota should recognize the great academic and clinical training experience the program affords. Since the time of Drs. C. Walton Lillihei, Clarence Dennis, and Richard Varco, graduates and visitors of our program have been the leaders in every facet of modern cardiac surgery, and that tradition continues today."

Hassan A. Tetteh, MD
Thoracic Surgery Fellow

How to Apply

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Eligibility Requirements Effective July 1, 2016

All required clinical education for entry into ACGME-accredited fellowship programs must be completed in an ACGME-accredited surgery, or vascular surgery residency program, or in an RCPSC-accredited or CFPC- accredited general surgery, cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, or vascular surgery residency program located in Canada.

Residents graduating from an osteopathic program in "pre-accreditation" status are not eligible for appointment. It is the opinion of the Thoracic Surgery Review Committee that residents must be in an ACGME-accredited program at the time of application, as there is no way for the fellowship program to know if the applicant's program will receive the required "initial accreditation" status by the time of graduation.

Visa Policy

The J-1 alien physician visa sponsored by ECFMG is the preferred visa status for foreign national trainees in all U of MN graduate medical education programs, as well as the Thoracic Surgery training program. We will also consider applicants with H1-B visas. Additional information on the Institution visa policies can be found on the UMN-GME webpage.

Application Instructions

Please submit your application via ERAS (ACGME ID: 4602621046, Program Name: University of Minnesota Program, Minneapolis, MN).

The required electronic application documents are as follows:

  • Common Application Form
  • Personal Statement
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Photo
  • ECFMG Status Report (foreign medical graduates only)

We look forward to receiving your application documents electronically. If you have any questions, please contact the Program Coordinator, Mitch Gmyrek, at