Symposium Preps Residents for Practice

Ara A. Vaporciyan, MD

Making the move from completing medical training to starting a practice can seem like a road with endless choices.

“From when cardiothoracic surgery residents first apply to medical school to completing their residencies, they move from one job to the next without a lot of input. They go through clear processes for getting into medical school, residency, and fellowship. It’s all orchestrated for them,” said Ara A. Vaporciyan, MD, Professor and Chair of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Dr. Vaporciyan is a co-moderator of the Residents Symposium, which will provide residents with practical information to help them transition from residency to a successful practice. The symposium will be from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday in Room 231ABC. All residents, no matter their year, are encouraged to attend the program.

“The first time they have a choice and have to make deep decisions is when they complete their residency. The ones who don’t think about it and only focus on superficial issues, such as location and salary, have the worst outcomes with the jobs they choose,” said Dr. Vaporciyan.

Sidharta P. Gangadharan, MD

His co-moderators will be Sidharta P. Gangadharan, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, and Sandra L. Starnes, MD, the Dr. John B. Flege, Jr. Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery, Associate Professor of Surgery, and Director of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Cincinnati. All are members of the Society’s Workforce on Thoracic Surgery Resident Issues, with Dr. Vaporciyan as Chair.

The program will feature five 15-minute talks on how to find the right position, interviewing tips, contract negotiation, how to be successful in developing a clinical practice, and early career development, which will be followed by group breakout sessions and discussions with experienced surgeons.

Sandra L. Starnes, MD

“To make the discussions more useful, they will not concentrate on broad concepts, but rather, specifics about the best way to find your first job, key points of a successful interview, the nuts and bolts of your contract, and so on,” Dr. Starnes said. “Most residents have never seen a contract, so they’ll learn how to break down the specifics of what is a typical contract and what things to avoid.”

Feedback from last year’s participants has brought a new format to the group discussions. Previously, each table discussion was dedicated to a specific topic from the symposium; this year, the format allows residents to pose questions related to any of the symposium topics at any table.

“Each table will have three faculty members from a variety of academic and private practices,” Dr. Starnes said. “Over the years, they have done a great job and have been committed to helping engage the residents.“

Beyond attending the symposium, Dr. Vaporciyan recommends that residents become STS members and get involved with the Society’s leadership opportunities.

“Getting involved in the STS Workforces is a great way to give back, network, and meet mentors,” he said. “Yes, it’s a little work, but it’s rewarding. I’ve met many people, and I clearly get more out of it than I think I put into it.”