Thoracic Surgery Residency Program

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The Thoracic Surgery Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) offers an ACGME-accredited two-year thoracic-track cardiothoracic residency program. This program was established by Robert Ginsberg in 1990 with the intention to train the future leaders in thoracic surgery and was one of the first programs in the country to provide a focus on general thoracic surgery. This legacy continues today under the leadership of Chief David Jones and Program Director James Huang. The residency includes broad exposure to diseases of the chest, including pulmonary, esophageal, mediastinal, pleural, pericardial, and chest wall pathologies, along with a robust experience in cardiac surgery, including coronary, valvular, aortic, and transcatheter procedures through rotations at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell Medical College (NYPH/WCMC). With the volume and breadth of operative cases, the dedication to teaching, and the structured didactic components, this program offers the trainee an intense and unparalleled experience in thoracic surgery. Applicants should have completed general surgery training by the time of matriculation and should be board eligible or board certified by the American Board of Surgery.

Clinical Training

Our internationally renowned faculty comprises 11 full-time thoracic surgeons at MSK and 22 cardiothoracic surgeons at NYPH/WCMC, whose strong belief in the importance of mentorship and teaching serves as the foundation for our training program. Trainees enjoy broad exposure to a variety of both malignant and benign pathologies. Minimally invasive approaches including VATS, robotic, and advanced endoscopic techniques are equally emphasized alongside complex open surgical approaches. Experience in the clinic is integral to the resident’s training as well and includes an in-depth opportunity to evaluate patients who are being considered for surgical management. A highly structured didactic program complements an extensive operative experience that is second to none, and residents have ample opportunity to pursue clinical research and academic scholarship.

The thoracic-track trainee spends 15 months of their two years with the Thoracic Surgery Service at MSK and nine months on the Cardiac Surgery Service at NYPH. During their time at MSK, the thoracic-track individual has the option to pursue a two- or three-month elective at another ACGME-accredited institution of their choice to complement their experience. The thoracic-track individual is entrusted with full administrative oversight and responsibility for the service.


Thoracic-track residents complement their large operative experience with a structured didactic program that consists of several lectures and teaching conferences that are all faculty-run. The academic year begins with a summer core course in thoracic surgery covering the fundamentals of thoracic surgical techniques and patient management. A weekly didactic lecture based on the TSDA curriculum is given by the faculty, drawing from the expertise present across the various specialties, and a regular case conference discussion serves to follow up and consolidate the knowledge gained from the lecture. Additional conferences including journal club, Cath Conference, Esophageal Conference, Tumor Board, and Morbidity and Mortality provide ample opportunities to deeply explore a topic. The availability of a robotic simulator as well as a simulation lab provide resources for practice and technical training outside of the OR.


Training in clinical research is essential to the development of the academic thoracic surgeon. The academic year begins with a lecture series on clinical research methods and continues with monthly journal clubs, during which key articles are critiqued and reviewed and the study methods analyzed, and quarterly Controversies in Thoracic Surgery conferences, where pro-con debates are led by the trainees on current hot-button topics in cardiothoracic surgery.

Research interests and opportunities are discussed at the beginning of the residency, and the resident should plan to complete one to two research projects during each year, mentored by a faculty member, with expectations for presentation at a national meeting and subsequent publication.

Benefits and Environment

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a vibrant community with many amenities and attractions nearby, including numerous restaurants, museums, and shops. Central Park offers beautiful outdoor escapes, and there are many activities for families and children. Several schools are in the vicinity.

Salary and benefits are provided to all residents according to level of training (number of postgraduate years). Thoracic-track trainees are provided a generous benefits package and housing. For more information, please refer to Resident Housing and Benefits.


February 1, 2018

Length of Program

Two years


Applicants must have completed their residency training in general surgery and have attained qualification to sit for the American Board of Surgery examination. Foreign medical graduates with equivalent qualifications are also eligible to apply. They must have completed all three of the USMLE examinations and hold a valid ECFMG certificate.

Number of Positions

Each year, the program accepts two thoracic-track residents through the MSK mechanism (which carries a separate National Resident Matching Program, or NRMP, code from the cardiothoracic positions offered through NYPH/WCMC.

How to Apply

Applications are to be submitted via ERAS directly to the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (Cornell Campus) program. Please note that after receipt of your application, there will be a subsequent opportunity to designate your interest in the MSK thoracic-track position. We require the ERAS application, a personal statement, at least three letters of recommendation (but no more than the ERAS maximum), USMLE scores, ABSITE scores, and a headshot photo. Interviews for selected candidates will be held in April of the preceding year. When subsequently submitting their rank list to the NRMP Thoracic Surgery Specialty Match, applicants will be able to select and rank the Memorial Thoracic-Track position, which carries its own NRMP code (Memorial Thoracic-Track NRMP code: 1466460F0), and is separate from the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (Cornell Campus) positions.

Program Director


Zachary J. Almer, MPA
Acting Education Program Manager
Surgical Education Office
Department of Surgery
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
1275 York Avenue
Box 435
New York, NY 10065
Phone: 212-639-7537