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Cardiothoracic Surgery

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Your Pathway into Cardiothoracic Surgery training in North Queensland

Entry Requirements

  • Australia or New Zealand Permanent Resident or Citizen
  • General (Unconditional) medical registration for Australia, or General scope or restricted general scope registration in the relevant specialty in New Zealand
  • Completion of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Hand Hygiene Learning Module
  • Completion of PGY2
  • Completed the RACS “Introduction to Operating with Respect” eLearning module 
  • Completion of the Generic Surgical Sciences exam
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery Specific Eligibility Criteria:
    • Successful completion of the Generic Surgical Sciences Exam
    • Successful completion of Clinical Examination
    • Complete one (1) Cardiothoracic Surgical Rotation of a minimum of ten (10) continuous weeks. The Cardiothoracic Surgical Rotation must be undertaken within the last seven (7) years and must be completed before 31 January 2023. 
      • Must be undertaken within a hospital unit where a Board approved Cardiothoracic Surgical Supervisor is present.
      • Must be purely cardiac / cardiothoracic and not shared with another surgical specialty. 
      • If the hospital's cardiac and thoracic units are separated, the applicant will be deemed as having completed a Cardiothoracic Surgical Rotation if they completed at least ten (10) weeks in cardiac surgery.
    • Complete two (2) Surgical Rotations in two (2) different surgical specialties (excludes cardiac and / or thoracic surgery) of a minimum of ten (10) continuous weeks each. The Surgical Rotations must be undertaken within the last seven (7) years and must be completed before 31 January 2023. 
    • Completion of three Direct Observation of Procedural Skills in Surgery (DOPS). Please refer to DOPS for more information. 

Refer to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for further information on selection and/or eligibility.

Total Training Time

Total: 6 years (full time)

  • SET 1: Satisfactory completion of four three-month terms (full-time)
  • SET 2-6: Five years (full time) of satisfactory experience in Cardiothoracic Surgery training

How To Apply

Applicants must first register with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) in accordance with the Registration for SET Selection policy. Confirmed details correct 

Queensland Health offers a central allocations program for SET 1 Principal House Officer (PHO) applications in General Surgery through the RMO Campaign.

Selection to SET 2-5 Cardiothoracic Surgery Registrar positions in Queensland is managed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and applicants apply directly via the RACS online application system.

Applicants who are successful with RACS will need to apply to the Queensland Health RMO Campaign for an employment contract to be issued by the allocated facility.

Application Deadline

Key dates for application submission, assessment and selection rounds are available on the Queensland Health Recruitment Campaign website  for application through the RMO campaign. Once the campaign closes, only your preferenced facilities or training programs can access your online application and attachments to assess and conduct meritorious recruitment activities. The facility or training program may contact candidates to discuss applications, employment opportunities or organise interviews. 

Each specialty training college has different application dates so ensure you refer to the individual website for information. Consider these dates in conjunction with the RMO campaign key dates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon?

Cardiothoracic surgeons are medical professionals who surgically treat organs inside the thoracic cavity (or chest cavity). The thoracic cavity includes the ribs, vertebral column, and the sternum. Cardiothoracic surgeons perform surgery on the heart and major blood vessels (for heart disease), oesophagus, thymus, lungs (for lung disease), and other organs in the chest.  

Cardiothoracic surgeons operate within both public and private facilities, providing emergency and elective surgical procedures, and will be involved in post-operative and outpatient care. Procedures commonly performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon include coronary bypass surgery, aortic surgery, surgery for lung or other thoracic tumours, chest wall surgery as well as heart and lung transplantation surgery.

Cardiothoracic surgeons treat life-threatening diseases and work closely with other health care professionals on diagnosis and treatment. Cardiothoracic surgery is a varied medical field and can be further broken down into cardiovascular surgeons, general thoracic surgeons, and congenital heart surgeons. 

Cardiac or cardiovascular surgery can include treatment of: 

  • Blockages in the heart valve(s)
  • Leaking heart valve(s)
  • Coronary artery disease or blockages of the arteries in the heart
  • Heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Abnormal enlargement or aneurysms of the large arteries in the chest
  • Endocarditis

Thoracic surgery can include the treatment of: 

  • Severe emphysema
  • Esophageal cancer 
  • Lung cancer
  • Hiatal hernias
  • Swallowing disorders such as achalasia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Pulmonary embolisms 

Congenital heart surgery can include the treatment of: 

  • Ventricular septal defects
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Hypoplastic left or right heart syndrome
  • Atrial septal defects
  • Transposition of the great arteries
  • Congenital heart defects 

What Abilities Are Important in This Specialty?

Apart from the obvious educational requirements of cardiothoracic surgery training, cardiothoracic surgeons must have a calm temperament and the ability to work and make decisions under pressure. Surgeons in this field must also have excellent communication and management skills to instruct colleagues in theatre and deal with patients and their families. Surgeons must be highly skilled in performing tasks with their hands, with great hand-eye coordination, vision, and visual-spatial awareness. Additionally, they must be medically fit and capable for standing and holding attention for hours when operating. Lastly, surgeons must have immaculate attention to detail.

Can I Break Up My Training Over a Number of Years?

While you can break up training into sections, it is not advised to do so. Most cardiothoracic surgery pathway programs are completed in one section. If trainees break for longer than one year, some exams will need to be re-done. Similarly, a break of two years or longer will require the trainee to repeat old content and material. 

How Many Applicants Get Selected Per Year?

The number of applicants selected differs from year to year. In 2019, for example, there were 28 trainees in total with 12 new trainees. In total there are 187 specialists in Australia. 

What Is It Like Living in North Queensland?

The northern Queensland region offers a well-balanced mix of quality education and a relaxed or adventurous lifestyle, depending on your preference. With the convenience of cities close by, but the benefit of reasonable housing costs and vast landscapes a stone’s throw away, Northern Queensland is hard to beat.

Each regional centre is small enough to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life, but large enough to boast a range of facilities for socialising and entertainment. You can make the most of the great outdoors through rainforest hikes, mountain biking and snorkelling or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Living and working in Northern Queensland offers a great balance for all ages and stages, with short commute times putting more hours back into your workday, and plenty to explore on the weekends.

Networking and industry social opportunities are to be found in the tightknit hospital and health communities. Our vision is to improve the health of communities in the northern Queensland region by addressing the shortage of doctors in the area, a passion which unites the students, interns, junior doctors, and specialists training and working here. 

Our training region ensure trainees have access to a wide range of hospital and health settings of varying sizes and capabilities offering diverse case load and case mix. These training areas include the following health service areas: Cairns, Central West, Mackay, North West, Torres and Cape, and Townsville.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website aims to assist medical students and doctors in training with medical career planning. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is current and accurate, all details should be verified through the relevant Specialist College.

NQRTH is an initiative of the Australian Government's Integrated Rural Training Pipeline (IRTP) and is facilitated by James Cook University in partnership with public and private hospitals, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and GP clinics.

Cairns region
(07) 4226 8187

Central West region
(07) 4764 1547

Mackay region
(07) 4885 7122

North West region
(07) 4764 1547

Torres and Cape region
(07) 4095 6103

Townsville region
(07) 4781 3424