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In this final episode of Season 2, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Ed Chen from Duke University in North Carolina. Described as an experienced leader with “exceptional maturity” and a reputation for “respectful and thoughtful engagement,” Dr. Chen generously shares his personal experiences and insight. While he is Taiwanese, Dr. Chen was born in Tokyo (where his parents were attending university), moved to Taiwan, and eventually landed in the US. His hometown? Athens, Georgia, he said, while sharing that he is a die-hard fan of University of Georgia football. Importantly, Dr. Chen explains that he is a “better person and surgeon” because he was able to travel and have different global experiences. Even as a young boy, he knew his future was in medicine. “I remember being fascinated with the circulatory system which was featured on this TV special called ‘The Body Human.’” In fact, his younger brother also became a surgeon. Dr. Chen credits good mentors with encouraging him to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. He attended Duke University School of Medicine, and 30+ years later, he has returned to Duke to lead cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. According to Dr. Chen, cardiothoracic surgery is thriving, but the specialty also is challenged by complex patients, changing training paradigms, and limited resources. “In order to survive as a specialty, we must be resilient, flexible, and collaborative—all while remaining committed to the patients and our learners,” he advises. Don’t miss the stories, experiences, and valuable advice from this leading light in cardiothoracic surgery. Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity.
In this episode of Season 2, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Cherie Erkmen, from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Erkmen grew up in Colorado with devoted parents who encouraged and inspired her to consider a career in medicine. Interestingly, her mom was unofficially a “storm chaser;” officially, she was an atmospheric researcher for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who studied how pollution impacts storm patterns and the connection between air pollution and lung cancer. Through her mom, Dr. Erkmen “gained a lot of courage and vicarious experience.” She remembers having only a “vague” idea of being a doctor when she was growing up. However, along with a cheering section of parents and siblings, Dr. Erkmen had the support to “think big.” In this fascinating conversation, she also shares that her dad’s battle with lung cancer motivated her to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. An active member of the STS Workforce on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Dr. Erkmen discusses the importance of listening to what the community needs and creative initiatives that she leads through Temple University. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity.
In this episode, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Allan Pickens, a leading thoracic surgeon from Emory University in Atlanta. Listeners will discover interesting personal details such as Dr. Pickens, along with his five siblings, grew up on a farm in a rural Alabama town. That farm is where he began shaping his extraordinary work ethic. With parents who strongly encouraged good grades and required college after high school, Dr. Pickens always made schoolwork a priority. A high performing student, he was recruited in 6th grade to participate in a special program through the Macy Foundation. This is when Dr. Pickens was first inspired to pursue a career in medicine. Eventually he decided on cardiothoracic surgery. “I enjoy the technical components of surgery and the immediate impact on patient care, and I’m fascinated by chest physiology.” Dr. Pickens shares that growing up in rural Alabama did not provide much opportunity for physician mentorship, especially for minorities. “Finding mentors took some work,” he says. Dr. Pickens discusses some of the challenges he’s faced, and how these personal experiences motivated him to “want to give back” and “be involved in the educational process” for underrepresented individuals. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity. Patients can learn more about cardiothoracic diseases and their treatments at ctsurgerypatients.org.
In this episode of the STS Webinar Series, a panel comprising several coauthors of the STS/AATS Clinical Practice Guideline on the Management of Type B Aortic Dissection discuss the key takeaways from this comprehensive, up-to-date summary of the state of the evidence. Discussion topics include: optimal medical therapy as the recommended treatment for patients with uncomplicated TBAD, thoracic endovascular aortic repair for patients with complicated hyperacute, acute, or subacute TBADs and favorable anatomy, and conditions under which open surgical repair is the preferred treatment option, including for patients with connective tissue disorders. Participants include Edward P. Chen, MD, Thomas G. Gleason, MD, Dawn S. Hui, MD, Thomas E. MacGillivray, MD (moderator), and Himanshu J. Patel, MD.
In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Sharon Ben-Or—the first female President of the Eastern Cardiothoracic Surgical Society. This inspirational leader shares remarkable, thought-provoking details about her journey into medicine. She credits her uncle with opening her eyes to the possibility of medical school. Listeners will learn that while on a family trip, Dr. Ben-Or skipped the skiing and spent the day with her uncle who was studying for the MCAT. Why cardiothoracic surgery? A clerical error, she explains. When considering a surgical subspecialty, Dr. Ben-Or was interested in the pancreas and liver, so she “signed up” for surgical oncology. But someone mixed up the paperwork, and she ended up on the thoracic oncology rotation. “I loved it,” she said. Dr. Ben-Or also generously shares how her 2017 breast cancer diagnosis “completely changed” her approach to patients and helped her better understand and empathize with patients’ feelings of fear and anger. She is in the process of rebuilding her life—"a new life”—because “so many things have changed.” Don’t miss the stories, experiences, and valuable advice from this leading light in cardiothoracic surgery. Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity.
In this episode of the STS Webinar Series, a multidisciplinary panel shares their expertise in establishing and maintaining an effective mobile ECMO unit. In addition to optimal staffing, logistical details, and contingency plans for transport, the panel discusses findings from research on ECMO-facilitated resuscitation and contraindications for deploying the mobile ECMO unit. Participants include Cory Alwardt, PhD, Anna L. Ciullo, MD (moderator), J.W. Awori Hayanga, MD, MPH (moderator), Hitoshi Hirose, MD, Jeffrey Javidfar, MD, and Demetris Yannopoulos, MD.  
In this episode, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Jenna Romano, from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan Health. Listeners will discover fascinating personal details about this surgeon leader, including that she considers herself a “lifer Midwesterner;” while in college, her plan was to become a veterinarian (thanks to Dr. Bob Bartlett, that plan changed); and she was the first in her family to “dip” her toe into the medical field. Throughout her unique, “rare as a unicorn” journey, Dr. Romano has overcome stigmas and changed paradigms, and she’s done this by confidently wearing her emotions on her sleeve. “I don’t hold back. If there’s something I believe could be different or better, I speak up—for better or for worse,” she shares. At the time of this episode recording, Dr. Romano had just been named Second Vice President for The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), putting her in line for the STS Presidency. She will be the first woman to hold this position. Still “trying to catch her breath” over the exhilaration surrounding the new role, Dr. Romano explains what went through her mind and the first thing she did after receiving the phone call inviting her to accept the position. And what about the future of cardiothoracic surgery? Dr. Romano says the specialty is “not going away,” but will need to be more flexible and dynamic in the years ahead. “Just think—when you see a more diverse picture going forward, how much more greatness we’re going to achieve.” “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.
In this episode of the STS Webinar Series, senior leaders from STS and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery discuss the concerns that informed the decision not to endorse the 2021 Guideline for Coronary Artery Revascularization published in December by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Concerns discussed include: the devaluation of both coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) as a treatment option and the evidence supporting bypass surgery as a preferred approach in select high-risk patient populations, and the superior long-term benefits of CABG versus percutaneous coronary intervention in decreasing repeat reintervention. Panelists include: John H. Calhoon, MD, Leonard N. Girardi, MD, Shaf Keshavjee, MD, MSc, FRCSC, Thomas E. MacGillivray, MD, Joseph F. Sabik III, MD, and Lars G. Svensson, MD, PhD. 
In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Raja Flores, from Mount Sinai in New York City (NYC). With generous detail, Dr. Flores describes his “jagged line” to cardiothoracic surgery, while crediting luck and his supportive mom for much of his success. He shares how he “grew up poor” in NYC with neighborhood friends who turned to drugs and often ended up in jail. For Dr. Flores, though, personal experiences during repeated trips to the emergency room as a kid sparked his interest in medicine. He opens up about his passion for improving lung cancer survival—an area that has “a lot of room for improvement.” Dr. Flores explains that 80% of people living in NYC public housing are living with serious health hazards and exposures, but there is no “political activity” to improve the conditions. This reality fueled Dr. Flores’s motivation to launch a run for NYC mayor in 2021. “I wanted to bring awareness and effect change on a greater scale,” he shares. While unsuccessful, his campaign as “a son of New York City and mayor for all people” was organized and run by four medical students. Hear, too, what Dr. Flores says about the cardiothoracic surgery specialty “exploding” in years to come. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity. Patients can learn more about cardiothoracic diseases and their treatments at ctsurgerypatients.org.
In this episode of the STS Webinar Series, an international panel of surgeons shares their experiences with electromagnetic and robotic approaches to bronchoscopy, as well as ablation of lung cancers. Topics include: a comparison of two robotic platforms currently available for bronchoscopy, electromagnetic navigation for nodule localization, and the use of bronchoscopic microwave ablation for patients ineligible for stereotactic body radiation therapy. Participants include Hiran C. Fernando, MD (moderator), Douglas J. Minnich, MD (moderator), Calvin S.H. Ng, MD, FRCS(CTh), Janani S. Reisenauer, MD, Benny Weksler, MD, MBA, and Kazuhiro Yasufuku, MD, PhD, FRCSC.
Hosted by Thomas K. Varghese Jr., MD, MS, the “Beyond the Abstract” program explores the “whys” behind articles in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and discusses next steps with authors and thought leaders. In the latest episode, Ourania A. Preventza, MD, MBA, joins Dr. Varghese to discuss the powerful Annals article that examines demographic trends among cardiothoracic surgery trainees in all accredited US training programs over the past 13 years. This robust conversation explores the motivation behind the project, reflections on the ongoing efforts to effect change, and opportunities to improve the specialty in the years ahead. Dr. Varghese asks the important question: “Are we doing a good job, or are we still struggling with how to continue to recruit the best and the brightest to our field?” According to Dr. Preventza, there are “great initiatives” in CT surgery, but “we have to know how to dissect the issue and better understand where the problem is.” Hear what she says about the specialty’s “pipeline issue” and how the “enthusiasm” for CT surgery must start well before the medical school application process. Read the related Annals article online: Demographic Landscape of Cardiothoracic Surgeons and Residents at United States Training Programs.
In this episode—which does not disappoint—Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Gail Darling, head of surgery at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Dr. Darling reveals an “ordinary upbringing,” growing up in Canada with an accountant dad and a stay-at-home mom. Interestingly, her 12th grade English teacher was the person who recommended that Dr. Darling think about medicine as a career; before that, she was going to study English. She went on to become the first person in her family to attend university. The original plan was family medicine, but during the surgery rotation, Dr. Darling realized there was more opportunity to “make a difference and make things happen” in surgery. She liked “the pace and the people—birds of a feather.” This “giant” in cardiothoracic surgery shares her perspectives and thoughts about overcoming challenges associated with shattering glass ceilings, constant changes in cardiothoracic surgery, and the need to adopt a growth mindset in the quest for excellence. In reflecting on her career so far, Dr. Darling offers some wise words and sage advice for listeners: “Never give in; Don’t be limited by what other people tell you; Think about what drives you, what motivates you, what gets you up in the morning; Don’t let anything stand in your way.” “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity. Patients can learn more about cardiothoracic diseases and their treatments at ctsurgerypatients.org.
In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Jacques Kpodonu, from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Listeners will discover fascinating personal details, like why Dr. Kpodonu considers himself an “international gentleman.” He was born in Paris, France—his mom’s home city, but at 8 years old, moved to his dad’s country of Ghana. Throughout his childhood years, the family moved back and forth between the two countries several times. In Ghana, Dr. Kpodonu’s dad served as the country’s first cardiologist, and today, at 84 years old, he is still practicing medicine—"as active as ever.” After attending medical school at the University of Ghana, Dr. Kpodonu felt a “pull” to complete his training in the US. Why cardiothoracic surgery? His dad’s influence pushed him to “do something with the heart.” From an early age, he was reading EKGs for his dad—“making some money on the side.” A staunch advocate for global health equity, Dr. Kpodonu details his work with health care disparities in underserved communities. He also illustrates an exciting future for the specialty and advises young cardiothoracic surgeons to “keep an open mind.” “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity. Patients can learn more about cardiothoracic diseases and their treatments at ctsurgerypatients.org.
In this episode, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Susan Moffatt-Bruce, Chief Executive Officer at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This inspirational leader shares details about growing up in Canada with a dad who was part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a mom who was a nurse. She credits her strong family unit with keeping her grounded as they moved around Canada throughout her younger years. Dr. Moffatt-Bruce went on to attend different universities in different countries—Canada, the US, and the UK—an experience that provided her with distinct “perspectives and insight into all of the ways that education and health care are delivered.”  So how did she find her way into medicine? Listeners will learn that Dr. Moffatt-Bruce first was influenced and inspired by her mom, but once she started medical school, “I was hooked,” she said. A world-class leader with sharp business acumen and passion for value-driven care, Dr. Moffatt-Bruce became involved with patient safety efforts and clinical excellence long before it was an everyday part of health care. Don’t miss the stories, experiences, and valuable advice from this leading light in cardiothoracic surgery. Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity. Patients can learn more about cardiothoracic diseases and their treatments at ctsurgerypatients.org.
In this episode of Season 2, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Joseph Dearani, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Described as a leader extraordinaire, Dr. Dearani reflects on his STS presidency and shares the most challenging aspects of leading the organization during the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. He says adapting, rebounding, and refocusing were key. Dr. Dearani details captivating personal stories such as how his father’s family—who were silk weavers—emigrated from Syria; how his father, as a young boy, shined shoes on a street corner in Patterson, New Jersey, and then used his earnings to buy bread for dinner on the way home; and what it was like growing up with eight younger sisters. His father, who went on the become a family physician, inspired Dr. Dearani to pursue a career in medicine. The decision to specialize in cardiothoracic surgery, though, was a little less straightforward. In fact, surgery wasn’t even one of his initial interests. Instead, he considered emergency medicine and primary care. It was when Dr. Dearani rotated onto cardiac surgery toward the end of medical school that he decided he wanted to be heart surgeon. In addition to medicine, Dr. Dearani has a love for music. Listeners will hear how a nun visiting on Thanksgiving convinced him to take saxophone lessons. He continued playing throughout college and eventually the saxophone became a “religious part of my everyday life,” he says. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity. Patients can learn more about cardiothoracic diseases and their treatments at ctsurgerypatients.org.
In this episode of the STS Webinar Series, a panel comprising residents and surgeons shares a novel approach to Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (QIPS) rounds. Two case scenarios are used to demonstrate a structured, multidisciplinary approach to phase-of-care analysis of CT surgery patients. The group also discusses the impact of QIPS rounds on team culture within a surgical division that has adopted the framework. Participants include Kumari N. Adams, MD, Joel Bierer, MD, Edgar G. Chedrawy, MD, MSc, FRCSC, Kristen Errico, MD, Christopher M. Feindel, MD, FRCSC, Steven D. Harrington, MD, MBA, Susan D. Moffatt-Bruce, MD, PhD, MBA (moderator), Felix Oleralu, MD, Garrett L. Walsh, MD (moderator).
In the final episode of season 1, Dr. Michael Maddaus interviews Brian Ferguson, a former US Navy SEAL and CEO of Arena Labs. From start to finish, this conversation offers thought-provoking and inspiring information about human potential and becoming the best versions of ourselves. “How do we bridge the gap between who we are and who we have the capacity to become?” Brian asks. Not surprisingly, his experience in special operations helped him better understand his own potential, while also prompting him to launch a deeply personal mission of guiding others to take better care of themselves. Brian shares that his mom was a nurse and his brother was in the US Army Special Forces. These influences further extended his incredible appreciation for those who serve others. Importantly, he examines the danger of service archetypes—teachers, soldiers, surgeons—“giving of themselves and giving of themselves until they have nothing left to give.” Who is protecting them? And, how does this impact burnout in modern medicine? Considering himself a disruptor, Brian details how he took his experience—in special operations, with elite athletes, and in creative arts—and rolled it into health care. He founded a company based on people doing “hard things,” offering a powerful platform designed to improve the capacity of medical teams to manage and navigate stress. He calls it “high performance medicine.” The goal? Health care professionals can “better understand themselves, perform at higher levels, and ultimately do what they want to do—and that’s provide better patient care and quality.” “The Resilient Surgeon” is a program from the Society designed to inspire cardiothoracic surgeons to be their best selves, in and out of the OR, using scientifically proven tools and recovery strategies of the world’s top performers. Brian can be reached at www.arenalabs.global. Learn more about STS wellness efforts at sts.org/wellness.
In the first episode of Season 2, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Valerie Rusch, esteemed medical researcher and thoracic surgeon from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Rusch reveals fascinating details about her storied career, excitedly sharing that cardiothoracic surgery is “in a time of wonderful transformation.” She describes growing up in Manhattan with powerful lessons from her mother about being a strong woman. This counsel—along with a summer job as a surgical scrub tech—motivated Dr. Rusch to pursue a career in medicine. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but with persistence and resilience, she carried on and became one of the world’s top experts in the management of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Throughout the episode, Dr. Rusch offers valuable advice for young surgeons. “Be nimble and flexible,” she says. In addition, Dr. Rusch explains the importance of being open to new ideas and thoughtful about acquiring new skills to take care of patients. The faces of cardiothoracic surgery are different than they were 30 years ago, which she says, is "a benefit to the specialty, surgery in general, and especially to our patients.” Is the thoracic surgeon of tomorrow different than the thoracic surgeon of today? According to Dr. Rusch, “absolutely.” “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Learn more about STS diversity and inclusion efforts at sts.org/diversity. Patients can learn more about cardiothoracic diseases and their treatments at ctsurgerypatients.org.
In this episode, Dr. Michael Maddaus interviews British journalist and best-selling author Oliver Burkeman. How can we make the most of our finite lives in a world of impossible demands and relentless distraction? This intriguing conversation reveals profound insights on how to make the best use of time—our scarcest and most precious resource. A recovering productivity geek, Oliver lends his expertise about what brings value and meaning to our lives and how this intersects with the “tsunami” of the modern world. He challenges listeners to change their way of looking at and thinking about time. Stop trying to “clear the decks before you move on to the important stuff because the decks will never be clear,” he advises. Oliver also describes a linear notion of time, comparing time to a conveyor belt with “various containers going by and we have to fill the containers.” But beware—getting more done can be just a way of inviting more to do, and this productivity pressure often turns into a chronic sense of urgency. According to Oliver, we need to rethink our worship of efficiency and give up attempts to “be infinite and limitless.” Hear how to reconfigure life around what truly matters. “The Resilient Surgeon” is a program from the Society designed to inspire cardiothoracic surgeons to be their best selves, in and out of the OR, using scientifically proven tools and recovery strategies of the world’s top performers. Oliver can be reached at www.oliverburkeman.com and @oliverburkeman. Learn more about STS wellness efforts at sts.org/wellness.
In this episode, Dr. Michael Maddaus interviews Christopher M. Barnes, PhD, professor of organizational behavior at the University of Washington and expert in the impact of sleep deprivation. Dr. Barnes takes a deep dive into the impact of sleep deprivation on leadership performance and behavior, as well as its effects on interpersonal relationships. “When you sleep better, everything in your life will get better—your health, your work, your relationships, your general happiness,” he said. Dr. Barnes examines how important sleep is to overall health and mental wellness. Lack of sleep in some careers—cardiothoracic surgery in particular—often is worn as a badge of honor. But there are serious health consequences that have been linked to not getting enough sleep, including heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, weight gain, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Dr. Barnes explains that when it comes to sleep, the path to success involves both quantity and quality. Listeners also will learn about the concept of “social jetlag” and hear a “menu” of steps to take that will help achieve good sleep hygiene. Dr. Barnes cautions against turning your bed into a home theater (watching tv), a library (reading a book), and/or a lounge (talking on the phone), and recommends banishing all of those activities from your bed, which in turn, will “preserve and strengthen” the important link between bed and sleep. “The Resilient Surgeon” is a program from the Society designed to inspire cardiothoracic surgeons to be their best selves, in and out of the OR, using scientifically proven tools and recovery strategies of the world’s top performers. Dr. Barnes can be reached on Twitter @chris24barnes. View his TED Talk, “Sleep and Work.” Learn more about STS wellness efforts at sts.org/wellness.
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