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Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Aug;90(2):460-6. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2010.04.055.

The cardiac surgery workforce: a survey of recent graduates of Canadian training programs.

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  • 1Division of Cardiac Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.



The number of applications to Canadian cardiac surgery programs has declined recently. Perception of a difficult job market for new graduates may contribute to this decline. The objective of this survey was to document the experience of recent graduates of Canadian cardiac surgery training programs.


A 45-question, web-based survey was distributed to all graduates of Canadian cardiac surgery training programs who completed their training between 2002 and 2008.


Of the 62 estimated recent graduates, 50 completed the survey (81%). Mean age was 36 + or - 3 years and 90% were male. The mean number of years of training after medical school was 9.4 + or - 1.6 years; 78% completed a graduate degree; and 27% extended their training because of a lack of jobs. When asked about employment, 74% mostly or definitely got the job they wanted, although 34% considered themselves underemployed. Most respondents (98%) considered finding employment for a new graduate in cardiac surgery today difficult or extremely difficult, and 64% believed that there is currently an excess of cardiac surgeons in Canada. Only 54% of participants would strongly recommend cardiac surgery to potential trainees.


The majority of recent graduates from Canadian cardiac surgery training programs were successful in finding secure employment. A substantial proportion, however, extended their training because of a lack of jobs and reported feeling underemployed. Survey respondents agreed that a new graduate might have difficulty finding a job in cardiac surgery today. These concerns may contribute to the challenges of recruiting to the specialty.

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