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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  • #123: Beyond the Abstract: Demographic Landscape of Cardiothoracic Surgeons and Residents at United States Training Programs

    February 7, 2022

    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.

  • #122: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Gail Darling

    February 3, 2022

    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. 

  • #121: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Jacques Kpodonu

    January 21, 2022

    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.

  • #120: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Susan Moffatt-Bruce

    January 7, 2022

    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.

  • #119: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Joseph Dearani

    December 27, 2021

    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.

  • #118: Rapid-Fire Patient Safety Rounds: A New Paradigm for Safety Discourse

    December 17, 2021

    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).

  • #117: The Resilient Surgeon: Brian Ferguson

    December 17, 2021

    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.
     

  • #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

  • #115: The Resilient Surgeon: Oliver Burkeman

    November 29, 2021

    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 oliverburkeman.com and @oliverburkeman

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

  • #114: The Resilient Surgeon: Dr. Christopher Barnes

    November 22, 2021

    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.