What is it? Thoracic surgery is concerned with diseases of the lungs, esophagus,
chest wall, diaphragm, trachea and bronchi. That includes lung cancer, infections,
problems with the esophagus, and thoracic trauma.
The job is tough. To get certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery,
you need previous certification by the American Board of Surgery, a minimum
of two years training in thoracic surgery, plus a passing grade on a two-part
examination administered by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.
Specialists, such as thoracic surgeons, work primarily in private practices
Hours can be long for thoracic surgeons -- anywhere from 60 to 100 hours
per week. Thoracic surgeon Dr. John Miller estimates that he works about 60
hours per week, not including on-call time. Dr. Julie Swain of the University
of Kentucky College of Medicine estimates her weeks can easily run up to 100
working hours on a consistent basis.
"Almost every weekday, I work from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., many times even
later," says Dr. Camilla Mican. "So, the day averages 10 to 14 hours. I am
on call Monday morning until Friday afternoon for my own patients. I work
every third weekend, so I get two weekends out of three weekends off."