So is there hope? Although there was a shortage of residents applying for Thoracic Surgery, the top 25 to 30 this year were as good as any other year. They share with the members of this organization the same sense of excitement. They are in it for the right reasons. They want to care for patients and to learn the technical mastery to do so. We need to continue to provide them with the education that they deserve. As Dr Shumway said "the hardest part about heart surgery is getting to do it." If we are to teach high-caliber residents, then we must truly teach them to operate. They cannot learn just by watching. If they know they are going to come to a program and get to do some of the cases, they are going to be motivated to enter that program. We must continue to develop the research about the disease conditions that interests us and continue to develop new operations. The AAMC predicts a severe shortage of specialists in the future. The baby boomers continue to grow older. A generation of elder cardiothoracic surgeons will retire over the next few years. My suspicion is that there will be a shortage of cardiothoracic surgeons in the near future. The problem is that it will take several years to turn this around. I have noticed that the various thoracic surgical organizations have recently had separate retreats to discuss the future of thoracic surgery. It is a noble goal to improve your own organization you are a part of; however, I think that it is time for a general retreat on the future of cardiothoracic surgery. It is time for the leaders of all these organizations to come together to discuss our future, as well as how we solve the problems of today. We need to identify the future leaders of our field and mentor them properly. Finally, we have to remember we are Doctors first and technicians second. It is only by planning the future of our field that we will be able to continue to answer with pride and joy my son's question: How many lives will you save tomorrow?
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine