#116: Same Surgeon, Different Light S2: Dr. Valerie Rusch

December 10, 2021

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