Podcast Episodes

The Society's podcast, Surgical Hot Topics, features leaders in cardiothoracic surgery discussing important issues in the field. Please note: The comments included in these episodes are that of the individuals involved and not necessarily that of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Find episodes here, or subscribe via the links below:

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  • #136: The Resilient Surgeon S2: Dr. Amy Edmondson

    September 23, 2022

    In this episode, Dr. Michael Maddaus interviews Dr. Amy Edmondson—a scholar of leadership, teaming, and organizational learning. Best known for her groundbreaking work on psychological safety in the workplace, Dr. Edmondson is the author of seven books and is ranked as one of the most influential management thinkers. What is psychological safety? According to Dr. Edmondson, it is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes, and that the team is safe for inter-personal risk-taking. In other words, she says, “Think of it as felt permission for candor.” Dr. Maddaus reflects on the surgical culture in which fear and anxiety have been the accepted drivers of high expectations and excellence. The concept of psychological safety, though, has shown him a different way, and together with Dr. Edmondson, he discusses a “recipe for magic”—the magic for better outcomes, better problem-solving, and a more flexible and rapid ability to adapt and create for the future. Listeners will hear Dr. Edmondson explain that if you change the nature and quality of the conversations in your team, your outcomes will improve exponentially. Psychological safety, she explains, is the core component to unlock this. A leader’s job—whether at the top of an organization or somewhere in the middle—is to create a safe space for people to speak up, make mistakes, and bring their full selves to work. 

    “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. Learn more about STS wellness efforts at sts.org/wellness. Dr. Edmondson can be reached at amycedmondson.com and @AmyCEdmondson

  • #135: The Resilient Surgeon S2: Dr. Paul Conti

    September 9, 2022

    In this episode, Dr. Michael Maddaus has an insightful, don’t-miss conversation with Dr. Paul Conti, a psychiatrist and expert in trauma. Dr. Conti discusses psychological trauma: what it is and its far-reaching, profound effects on the mind and body. Listeners will learn that trauma changes the functioning of the brain and alters the lens in which we see ourselves and the world around us. Trauma also spreads like a virus and affects people in our orbit, including our loved ones and colleagues. But there are major challenges in untangling complex problems and recognizing trauma. Dr. Conti talks about shame as the biggest obstacle to healing from trauma and offers solutions for how—as a society—we can start to change the stigma of mental health and allow more people to ask for and receive help. Importantly, Dr. Conti shares his deeply moving personal experiences with trauma. So, set aside any preconceived notions you have about trauma and give this episode a listen.

    “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. Conti, author of Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic, can be reached at DrPaulConti.com 

    Learn more about STS wellness efforts at sts.org/wellness.

  • #134: The Resilient Surgeon S2: Brad Stulberg

    August 26, 2022

    In this episode, Dr. Michael Maddaus interviews Brad Stulberg—an internationally known expert on human performance, wellbeing, and sustainable success. He also authored the bestselling book, The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path to Success That Feeds—Not Crushes—Your Soul. In this provocative and practical conversation, Brad shares a healthier, more sustainable model for success. He explains that at the heart of this model is groundedness—a practice that values presence over rote productivity, accepts that progress is nonlinear, and prioritizes long-term values and fulfillment over short-term gain. “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.

    Brad can be reached at bradstulberg.com and @bstulberg

    Learn more about STS wellness efforts at sts.org/wellness.

  • #133: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Ed Chen

    April 28, 2022

    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.

  • #132: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Cherie Erkmen

    April 14, 2022

    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.

  • #131: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Allan Pickens

    March 31, 2022

    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.

  • #130: Management of Type B Aortic Dissection: Takeaways from the STS/AATS Guideline

    March 18, 2022

    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.

  • #129: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Sharon Ben-Or

    March 17, 2022

    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.

  • #128: Dos and Don'ts of the Mobile ECMO Team

    March 4, 2022

    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.   

  • #127: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Jenna Romano

    March 3, 2022

    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.