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.

Program Overview

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.

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.

  • 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.

    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.

    USC Arcadia

    USC Arcadia Hospital was founded in 1903 by the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church. Having been founded in one of the busiest parts of the country, our full-service hospital has grown significantly in the last 100 years. We currently have 348 licensed beds, and treat more than 40,000 patients in the Emergency Department each year. We have spared no effort to provide our patients with the best care possible. Our facility is outfitted with advanced diagnostic technology like the 320-slice CT scanner and high-definition MRI. We also manage state-of-the-art catheterization labs, electrophysiology, and neuro-interventional radiology.

  • PGY 1

    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

    PGY 2

    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

    PGY 3

    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 Arcadia Hospital
    Cardiac Los Angeles General Medical Center

  • Applications

    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 1st and December 8th, 2023

  • Celeste Mendoza
    Program Coordinator

    Craig J. Baker, MD
    Program Director
    Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery