Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast

Let's Talk Surgery Podcast, Surgical Crossroads: Choosing your specialty - the Cardiothoracic episode

August 30, 2021 RCSEd Season 8 Episode 4
Let's Talk Surgery: The RCSEd Podcast
Let's Talk Surgery Podcast, Surgical Crossroads: Choosing your specialty - the Cardiothoracic episode
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Welcome to another special Careers episode of the Let's talk surgery podcast for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Today, we're speaking to some cardiothoracic surgeons: Edward Caruana (cardiothoracic trainee), Gill Hardman (cardiothoracic ST7), and Sridhar Rathinam (consultant thoracic surgeon).

Sridhar Rathinam is a consultant thoracic surgeon and senior lecturer in the University Hospitals of Leicester. He is the education secretary for Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery for Great Britain and Ireland (SCTS) and chair of the Cardiothoracic Surgical specialty Board, for the RCSEd. He has a special interest in emphysema and volume production and sarcoma and is passionate about training and education. He was inspired to become a doctor as a child by his uncle, who was also a surgeon. He is passionate about performing surgery and working closely with patients through their often difficult journeys. 

Gill Hardman is a cardiac registrar based in Health Education England Northwest, and is currently taking three years out of programme working on her PhD in cardiothoracic transplantation. Her main interests are medical education, training, human factors, non-technical skills and psychology, especially how surgeons think and behave. Gill is a member of the RCSEd Trainees Committee and recently joined the Women in Surgery subcommittee of the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. Like Sridhar, Gill has wanted to be a surgeon since she was a child. For Gill, the beauty of cardiac surgery is in the repeated achievement of this highly skilled, complex surgery. 

Edward Caruana is a trainee from the Southeast Midlands nearing completion of training in thoracic surgery. He is a keen advocate for maximising training opportunities across the spectrum of practice, and has served as a member of the Regional Training Committee for Cardiothoracic Surgery at Health Education East Midlands, and on the Cardiothoracic Surgical Specialty Board at the RCSEd. Unlike our other guests he got into cardiothoracic surgery “by accident and through a little bit of luck”, following a chance meeting with an inspirational cardiac surgeon at a conference in Croatia. 

In this frank discussion the panel openly discuss some of the challenges of cardiothoracics, including the historic lack of diversity, its sometimes difficult relationship with other specialties, the high-powered perception of cardiothoracic surgeons and the difficulties of balancing home and work commitments. However, all of our guests share a passion for their specialty, their teams and their patients, describing their work as an integral part of their life. It’s very apparent that theirs is a vocation and their determination and dedication is inspirational.

The advice from our panel to those who wish to pursue a career in cardiothoracic surgery is to start preparing early, focus on any opportunities for exposure to the specialty and reach out directly to colleagues in cardiothoracic surgery.

Contact Information
Visit https://www.rcsed.ac.uk/ for further information and details on becoming a member.

Email: [email protected] for any questions or topic suggestions you may have for future episodes.

This show is brought to you by the RCSEd. Follow us on  Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram. Hosted by Greg Ekatah, Sesi Hotonu and Sadie Khwaja produced and directed by Heather Pownall of Heather's Media Hub Ltd

Introducing the topic and guests for this episode.
[Sadie Khwaja – Sridhar Rathinam] Let's start with Sridhar, how did you get into cardiothoracic, what was the path and why cardiothoracic for you?
[SK – SR] What's the thoracic surgeons day-to-day? What are the highlights and where are the challenges?
[SK – SR] And looking back now you're an established thoracic surgeon, what's the challenges you've had getting to where you have?
[SK – SR] It really brings in the question of diversity with you saying you were challenged by coming from abroad to work here. How do you see the present state in terms of those kind of challenges?
[SK – Gill Hardman] Let's bring Gill in and get her experience of being a cardiothoracic registrar. Talk us through your kind of journey.
[Sesi Hotonu – GH] Maybe you could also enlighten us on what a cardiac surgeon actually does?
[SH – Edward Caruana] What was your journey into cardiothoracics?
[SH – EC] You might be the perfect person to answer this question, because you kind of fell into it a little bit by accident; what sort of hoops does one have to jump through to successfully gain a training number in cardiothoracics?
[SK – EC] What advice, would you give some somebody who's starting out?
[SK – EC] Gill mentioned other allied specialties you can consider, such as cardiology, respiratory and using those avenues [to gain experience]. What do you think about that?
[SH – SR] So speaking of teamwork, if I come to you, Sridhar, what is the ‘day in the life’ because you mentioned a bit about oncology and some of the things you did in your practice as a thoracic surgeon.
[SR] Advice for getting into cardiothoracic surgery.
[SK – GH] Gill, do you feel like you'll still be opening those chests in 20 years’ time, or will it be robotics and so forth?
[SK – GH] It comes to that question, do you have a work life balance in the land of cardiothoracics?
[SK – EC] How do you feel Edward? How did you find getting through your training, and how did you achieve it?
[SH – GH] Gill, you've been out of programme doing a PhD. Has COVID changed any aspect of that at all?
[SK – GH] And just touching on research, my personal feeling is it's a personal journey, and it's something that you want to do rather than a necessity to tick a box. Is that kind of how you feel in cardiothoracics?
[SK – EC] And what's your experience [of research] Edward?
[SH – All] We'll just do one last round robin, and you can only answer in one sentence. “The best thing about cardiothoracic is …”