Integrated Cardiothoracic Residency Program

Program description

The six-year integrated cardiothoracic surgery residency program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC provides a well-balanced curriculum designed to train future innovators and leaders in cardiothoracic surgery. The nationally recognized Department of Surgery and the Cardiovascular Institute (CVI), both under the direction of pioneer Vaughn A. Starnes, MD, have combined resources to ensure residents receive important early essential skills training and ultimately progress to become highly competent cardiothoracic surgeons.

In addition to cardiac and thoracic surgery, the early curriculum includes rotations in acute care surgery, intensive care, cardiovascular anesthesia/perfusion, imaging, cardiology and vascular surgery. Senior residents will become proficient in all aspects of complex cardiac and thoracic diseases including transplantation, assist devices, minimally invasive and robotic surgery, and complex endovascular therapies. The educational program includes a highly structured didactic core curriculum, weekly educational conferences and frequent participation in our renowned simulation training program.

Program Overview Video

Cardiothoracic Residency Virtual Tour


In 2006, Dr. Starnes was appointed chair of the Department of Surgery. Craig Baker, MD, FACS, was appointed as the vice chair of surgical education at that time and assumed the role of program director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Training Program in 2010. In 2017, Dr. Craig Baker accepted the role of Chief of Cardiac Surgery

Dr. Baker has achieved national recognition for his involvement in cardiothoracic education. He developed a comprehensive educational curriculum including a highly structured simulation training program. In 2011, the Cardiothoracic Surgery Training Program was approved as the first integrated (I-6) residency program in Southern California.

The Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Training Program, under the guidance of Dr. Baker, is designed to give residents the expertise to qualify for the American Board of Thoracic Surgery certification. Our curriculum and facilities offer the residents extensive and comprehensive training by exposing them to the full range of cardiothoracic conditions. High patient volume and diverse teaching faculty focused on education contribute greatly to the learning experience. We are committed to ensuring that residents perform a large number of cases and that they are exposed to the full spectrum of clinical environments in which they may practice one day. We have among our training sites a private university hospital, a children’s hospital, a large county medical center and a large community-based hospital with a long tradition of academic affiliation with USC. In 2017, Dr. Baker was appointed the Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery.

The Integrated thoracic surgery residency program offers a robust educational curriculum designed to complement our strong clinical programs. During the first three years, residents will have early and substantial exposure to the USC thoracic surgery curriculum, which includes weekly interactive didactics and regularly scheduled journal clubs as well as rotation-specific teaching conferences. Residents rotating on cardiothoracic rotations during the first three years will be active participants in these various platforms.

Residents will also be fully immersed in the comprehensive general surgery curriculum when rotating on their core general surgery rotations. For information about general surgery resident education, please click here. Residents during the first three years will participate in the general surgery surgical simulation program, which includes protected time every week for simulation training. This simulation curriculum is differentiated by year of training and includes a PGY1 intern boot camp and progressive PGY2 and PGY3 procedural based training. For more information, click the general surgery resident education link above

Residents in thoracic surgery will have access to our state-of-the art simulation center, including unrestricted access to our renowned fresh tissue dissection lab. click For more information about the Surgical Skills Simulation and Education Center, please.

Monthly Conference Schedule

Los Angeles General Medical Center

The newly designed Los Angeles General Medical Center opened its doors in 2008 and sits adjacent to the historic General Hospital building in an area just northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The facility encompasses 1.5 million square feet, with 600 inpatient beds and 132 Emergency Department beds. Over half of the resident rotations will be at Los Angeles General Medical Center. A few unique features of this hospital are listed below:

  • Serves as one of the busiest level 1 trauma centers in the nation and treats over 28% of trauma victims in the region; also serves as the US Navy’s Trauma training center
  • One of only three burn centers in the county, and one of the few Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Southern California
  • Employs approximately 1,500 attending physicians, 1,000 interns and residents, 3,000 nurses at all levels, and trains several hundreds of students in various healthcare professions
  • Prides itself on serving any patient that comes through its doors regardless of socioeconomic or insurance status

Keck Hospital of USC

Keck Hospital is a 401-bed university-affiliated teaching hospital within walking distance of County and employs over 700 faculty physicians. On average, the hospital performs over 18,000 outpatient and inpatient surgeries annually. As a tertiary/quaternary referral center, Keck provides care for the most acute and complex medical and surgical issues. A significant number of resident rotations take place at Keck.

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center:

USC Norris is one of the 8 original comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. More than 250 physicians and scientists focus on 13 key areas of cancer treatment including: breast cancer, colorectal cancer, genetic counseling, gynecological cancers, head and neck cancers, hematology, lung cancer, melanoma, neuro-oncology, radiation oncology, sarcoma, skin cancer and urologic oncology. The recently opened Norris Healthcare Center is a 7-story, 116,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility within walking distance and is focused on cancer care, urology, and outpatient surgery.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

CHLA is one of the busiest children’s hospitals in the nation with over 17,000 surgeries performed annually. Residents spend time rotating on the pediatric surgery service here. Those interested in pursuing pediatric surgery fellowship can easily find mentorship and research opportunities within the department.


CardioThoracic rotations (6 months)
Cardiac Critical Care Unit – Los Angeles General Medical Center
Cardiac Keck Hospital
Thoracic Keck Hospital
Thoracic Los Angeles General Medical Center
Perfusion/Imaging – Keck Hospital

General Surgery rotations ( 6 months)
Vascular Keck Hospital
Colorectal Keck Hospital
Hepato/Minimally Invasive Los Angeles General Medical Center
Acute Care Service Los Angeles General Medical Center
GI/Gen Surg Keck Hospital
Plastics Keck Hospital
Night Shift – Keck Hospital


CardioThoracic rotations (5 Months)
CardioThoracic Pediatrics Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
Cardiac Los Angeles General Medical Center

General Surgery rotations (7 Months)
Acute Care Service Los Angeles General Medical Center (three rotations)
Hepato/Minimally Invasive Los Angeles General Medical Center
Surgical Critical Care Keck Hospital
Vascular Keck Hospital
General Surgery Pediatrics Childrens Hospital Los Angeles


CardioThoracic rotations (9 Months)
Thoracic Los Angeles General Medical Center
CardioThoracic Pediatrics Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (two rotations)
VAD / Transplant Keck Hospital
Cardiothoracic elective

General Surgery rotations (3 Months)
Acute Care Service Los Angeles General Medical Center Colorectal Keck Hospital Vascular
Los Angeles General Medical Center

PGY 4 – PGY 6

CardioThoracic rotations (12 Months)
Cardiac Keck Hospital
Thoracic Keck Hospital
VAD / Transplant Keck Hospital
CardioThoracic Huntington Hospital
Cardiac Los Angeles General Medical Center

The Integrated Cardiothoracic Training Program at USC is currently accepting applications for two residents per year and accepts application through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). You must also register with the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

Our requirements for application include:

  • Common application form
  • Personal statement
  • Medical school transcripts
  • MSPE/dean’s letter
  • Letters of recommendation (minimum of three)
  • Photograph
  • USMLE transcripts
  • ECFMG status report – foreign graduates only

December 9th & January 20th

Elizabeth (Eli) Agraz-Sanchez, MHA
Residency Office | Division of Surgical Education
Craig J. Baker, MD
Program Director
Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery

The Division of Cardiac Surgery:

The Division of Thoracic Surgery:

The Aortic Center:

Faculty in the News: (Chronologic)

Social Media

Craig Baker appointed Chief of Cardiac Surgery