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 Thoracic Institute, 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.


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.

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.

Hospital rotation sites

LAC+USC Medical Center
Keck Hospital of USC
Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
Huntington Memorial Hospital


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

Contact information

Mitzi V. Clendening
Residency/Fellowship Administrator
Division of Surgical Education
Department of Surgery
1520 San Pablo Street, Suite 4300
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Phone: (323) 442-7824
Fax: (323) 442-6887

Craig J. Baker, MD
Program Director
Vice Chair, Surgical Education