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 fellows, general surgery residents, and medical students in the discipline of cardiovascular and thoracic surgical sciences.

The fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Minnesota received initial ACGME-accreditation in 1988 and is a three-year training program. There are two fellows at each year of the fellowship, for a total of six fellows. Each year, two fellows finish the program. The fellows 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 fellow 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 fellow.

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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 - Azmath Mohammed, MD

"The University of Minnesota is simply a top tier program to train the next generation of cardiothoracic surgeons in the 21st century. It caters to individuals who have a strong desire to become independent surgeons right out of training. The program is designed to teach you necessary surgical skills but also develop clinical skills to lead the ideal ‘Heart Team.’ The wide complexity of cases will give you an edge to operate in any settng beyond fellowship. In the third year, fellows have ample autonomy inside and outside the operating room; similar to a practicing junior attending. Our mentors are kind, encouraging but also challenge you to push yourself to maximum efficiency. The program takes pride in training world class cardiothoracic surgeons that will provide only the best care to their patients."

Azmath Mohammed, MD

Thoracic Surgery Fellow

How to Apply

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Eligibility Requirements Effective July 1, 2022

All required clinical education for entry into ACGME-accredited fellowship programs must be completed in an ACGME-accredited residency program, an AOA-approved residency program, a program with ACGME International (ACGME-I) Advanced Specialty Accreditation, or a Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)-accredited or College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)-accredited residency program located in Canada.

Independent thoracic surgery fellowship education must be preceded by a successfully completed residency program that satisfies the requirements in III.A.1. in surgery, vascular surgery, cardiac surgery, or thoracic surgery. Eligibility exceptions are not permitted by the ACGME Review Committee for Thoracic Surgery.

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

Verification of Training

Requests to verify a Cardiothoracic Surgery fellow's training at the University of Minnesota need to be emailed to or faxed to the attention of Verification Processing at 612-625-4411. For verification of subspecialty training, please contact the subspecialty directly.

To verify professional liability insurance information for a former UMN resident or fellow, find instructions on the Medical Malpractice Credentialing/Insurance Verification site.

Verification Contact List