Thoracic Surgery Training Programs

Thoracic Surgery Training Programs

Program director: Walter E. McGregor, MD
Accreditation:  ACGME
Program length:
   Thoracic Surgery Residency Program: 2 years (PGY6-PGY7)
   Joint General/Thoracic Surgery Residency Program: 7 years (PGY1-PGY7)
Residents per year: 
   Thoracic Surgery (2-year) program:  1
   Joint General/Thoracic Surgery (7-year) program:  1

About the Programs
     Traditional 2-year Thoracic Surgery Residency Training Program
     Joint (7-year) General and Thoracic Surgery Residency Program
     Program Goals
     Program Philosophy

Benefits and Stipends
Contact Us
     Traditional 2-year Thoracic Surgery Residency Training Program
     Integrated 7-year Sequential Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Program
     Basic Skills Lab
     Competency Goals
     Didactic Experiences
Special Features

About the Programs

Allegheny General Hospital has hosted training opportunities in cardiothoracic surgery since the 1950s.  Our highly regarded program and experienced faculty offer a rich case mix of adult cardiac and general thoracic patients drawn from a network of affiliated clinical sites serving western Pennsylvania.

The Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery includes divisions of Cardiac Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, and Critical Care Medicine.

Faculty  for our training programs are all board-certified in their specialties and participate fully in teaching.

Our cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgery training programs offer exceptional clinical and research facilities.

Our thoracic surgery training programs, which offer unique opportunities for collaborative education, include the following:


Cardiac, Thoracic, and Vascular Surgery Program Leadership


Victor O. Morrell, MD, chief, Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, is responsible for resident training in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.

Residents and fellows in the department benefit from readily available access to all department teaching opportunities. The comprehensive endovascular program is a cooperative effort of the Division of Vascular Surgery, the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology and the Division of Cardiac Surgery with dedicated support from the thoracic aortic surgery team.



Program Goals

The goals and objectives of these programs are fostered in an environment of progressively graded clinical and operative experience and responsibility. Within the limits of variability found in a clinical practice an equivalent experience will be afforded each resident, under the guidance and supervision of qualified teaching staff. With this process, each resident/fellow will develop mature surgical judgment and operative skills which prepares him or her to provide independent surgical care to patients with a wide range of cardiovascular and thoracic disorders in a manner appropriate to a specialist in surgery and candidate for board certifications. The final assessment of whether these objectives are being achieved is made by the program directors as recommended by the faculty.


Program Philosophy

The programs' philosophy is to:

  • Provide a robust, appropriately supervised setting in which advanced highly skilled education in adult vascular surgery, cardiac surgery, pediatric cardiac surgery, and general thoracic surgery can take place.
  • Seek opportunities for the trainees to acquire an in-depth knowledge and advanced skill in vascular, cardiac and general thoracic surgical techniques
  • Develop academically and professionally. Skills to be acquired include those of medical knowledge, patient care, practice-based learning and improvement, communication and interpersonal skills, professionalism and the systems based practice.
  • Provide an excellent clinical education and graduated clinical advancement accomplished by directed expert clinical, academic, and social instruction promoting self-directed education, and fostering the refinement of the individual residents clinical, professional, social and academic pursuits.
  • Combine trainee mentoring with instruction by faculty including both didactic and Socratic education, hands-on experience, and self-directed learning.



Contact Us


Thoracic Surgery and Vascular Surgery Residency and Fellowship Training Program

Megan R. Zrimsek, Coordinator

Mailing address:
     Department of Surgery
     Allegheny General Hospital
     320 East North Avenue
     Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212

Phone: 412.359.3836

Fax: 412.359.3878


 Traditional 2-year Thoracic Surgery Resicency Training Program

Our traditional 2-year Thoracic Surgery Residency Training Program, under the direction of Walter E. McGregor, MD, comprises 2 years of clinical training (PGY6 and PGY7). A pediatric cardiac surgery rotation is provided by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC under the direction of Victor O. Morell, MD.

Residents may elect to concentrate in either cardiac surgery or general thoracic surgery but must meet all current requirements for American Board of Thoracic Surgery certification in cardiothoracic surgery.

Our Thoracic Surgery Residency Training Program is noted for the collegial teaching environment engendered by the faculty. Residents are rotated among the numerous board-certified cardiothoracic surgery faculty so that they gain a broad range of experience and are exposed to various teaching styles. The faculty and staff of the program are committed to offering a high-quality educational environment and receive strong support in this effort from hospital leadership.

Senior thoracic surgery residents serve as the first line of supervision for cardiothoracic services, functioning as "junior attending surgeons" under the guidance of the faculty. Residents take no in-house call and their home call assignments are supported by the general surgery residents rotating on the cardiothoracic services. The department's Division of Critical Care Medicine provides 24/7 in-house coverage for patients on the critical care units. The home call resident is responsible for returning to the hospital to participate in the evaluation and care of patients requiring emergency surgical intervention. The in-house critical care specialist is available to advise the home call resident on all patient care issues. While on home call, residents report to and are supported by the attending cardiac and general thoracic surgeons on call and by the patient's attending surgeon.

Clinical services are also supported by physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and dedicated clinical trial managers.

Amenities for thoracic surgery residents include generous office space, individual computers and standard office software. Two weeks of vacation are provided annually, with an additional 5 days off during December. In addition, attendance at one national conference is supported.



 Joint (7-year) General/Thoracic Surgery Residency Program

Our Joint (7-year) General and Thoracic Surgery Residency Program consists of 5 years of General Surgery training followed by 2 years of Thoracic Surgery training.  The Joint program is referred to as a "4+3" program, because the resident begins the Joint program in the 4th year of the General Surgery Residency Program.

This program is new starting in 2013-2014.


 Special Features

Special features of our program are our training facilities, located at Allegheny General Hospital, and which include the Gerald R. McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute and the McGinnis Center for Innovation and Research.

Gerald R. McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute

In September 2006, Allegheny General Hospital officially dedicated the Gerald R. McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute (CVI). Located on the grounds of the hospital, CVI comprises 18,000 square feet of space dedicated to outpatient consultation and diagnostic services in a multi-disciplinary clinic dedicated to research, diagnosis and treatment for cardiovascular disease. This critically important initiative was endowed by a federal seed grant and the generosity of regional business leaders. The CVI is designed to operate as a unifying structure for delivery of exceptional patient-centered care and state-of-the-art clinical research. Established CVI centers focus on:

  • Valvular heart disease / complex valve disease
  • Heart failure
  • Ventricular assist
  • Cardiac transplant
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Vascular disease
  • Comprehensive aortic repair / replacement
  • Chronic wound management


The CVI serves as an outstanding venue for recruiting some of the nation's finest physicians and researchers to join the legacy of the highly regarded and experienced Allegheny team. The Institute is headed by surgical director George Magovern Jr., MD, and medical director Srinavas Murali, MD. CVI-sponsored educational programs bring nationally recognized clinicians and researchers to Allegheny in a variety of forums which emphasize the role of both medical and surgical approaches to cardiovascular disease.

In a unique approach to connecting the medical community with the public it serves, CVI also sponsors a popular annual event featuring prominent speakers from non-medical fields. Past speakers include author David McCullough, journalist Tim Russert, film-maker Ken Burns, political commentator David Gergen and presidential author Doris Kearns Goodwin.

  McGinnis Center for Innovation and Research

The McGinnis Center for Innovation and Research at Allegheny General Hospital (floor plan below) houses fully equipped and staffed clinical and research laboratories, including (shown in green) animal lab, cath lab, electrophysiology lab, fluoroscopy and critical care and (pink) Cardiovascular Training Lab.

Thoracic residency

Resident participation in research and other scholarly pursuits is expected and supported. Department personnel skilled in data management, statistical analysis, and technical writing are readily available to assist the resident. The department maintains comprehensive databases focused on inpatient quality assurance and outcomes analysis, including risk stratification modeling. Residents can access this data for patient review and research.

Basic Skills Laboratory


The Basic Skills Laboratory is a bi-monthly training and guided practice session developed by the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery for support of resident teaching in clinical skills during postgraduate years one through three. The laboratory is directed by faculty member Mathew Van Deusen, MD, a graduate of our consortium's General Surgery and Thoracic Surgery residency programs. The faculty comprises surgeons and hospital staff from the consortium's programs in general surgery, vascular surgery and thoracic surgery. The laboratory also serves as a venue for training with new devices and techniques and is also available for remedial teaching throughout the residency period.


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