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March 16, 2009

Hybrid Cardiac Surgery: A Resident's Perspective

Arch Surg. 2009;144(3):207-208. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2008.576

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.—Old African proverb

Approaching the end of my cardiothoracic surgery residency, I felt the need to share with colleagues, young residents, and the cardiothoracic community in general some thoughts that have been ringing in my mind as I face the theater of the surgical world.

Five years ago at the beginning of my training, I had the chance to learn both the more traditional aspects of cardiac surgery and the actual routine of it, first observing the older surgeons performing coronary artery bypass graft procedures on pump and with vein graft, then learning from the younger surgeons using challenging, new beating-heart techniques with arterial grafts and minimally invasive procedures. My last 2 years of residency have been in the United States, where I have spent most of my time trying to find new approaches for cardiac surgery, in few words, trying to think “out of the box.” During these 2 years, I have had the opportunity to learn a new way to excel at my job, collaborating with colleagues with different and specific skills. Working with cardiologists, engineers, and surgeons was very stimulating and helped me in the process to find new and different answers for our challenging future. Yet there is a gap between the possibilities that I discovered during the last 2 years and the reality of most cardiac surgery practices.