Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery Residency and Fellowship Programs

The Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency Program is a comprehensive six-year program designed to train future leaders in both the clinical practice and academics of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. 

The Cleveland Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) provides an unparalleled wealth of clinical resources for our trainees. Our department performs the most cardiothoracic surgical procedures in the country, and our staff surgeons are highly dedicated to teaching and research. The first three years of training provide a foundation in surgery and the management of cardiovascular disease by integrating rotations in surgery, cardiology, and endovascular intervention. Pre-requisite surgical rotations are drawn from the Cleveland Clinic’s flagship hospital, as well as its large network of affiliated hospitals, in order to optimize our residents’ operative experience. The last three years focus on cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, with fellowship-level clinical responsibility.

Our residency program is firmly grounded in academics. Weekly small-group didactic sessions focus on clinical decision-making and practical skills. Our surgeons frequently organize “wet labs” to instruct trainees in surgical technique. Furthermore, each resident is required to conduct a research study that is formally presented at the Annual Research Day. The HVI Clinical Investigations department maintains the robust cardiovascular information registry, which facilitates research spanning the entire spectrum of cardiothoracic surgery.

Dr. Stewart explaining a congenital cardiac surgical topic during resident didactics

Integrated Thoracic Surgery Residency Program
Resident Rotation Schedule

Integrated Thoracic Surgery Residency Program


First Year Residents

Saad Hasan, MD

Saad Hasan, MD
Cornell University

Dean Schraufnagel, MD

Dean Schraufnagel, MD
Tufts University

Second Year Residents

Haytham Elgharably, MD

Haytham Elgharably, MD
Zagazig University (Egypt)
Cardiac Surgery: National Heart Institute, Cairo

Patrick Vargo, MD

Patrick Vargo, MD
Case Western Reserve University

Third Year Residents

Tamer Attia, MD

Tamer Attia, MD
Cairo University
Cardiac Surgery: Cairo University

Robert Steffen, MD

Robert Steffen, MD
University of Minnesota


Second Year Fellows

Stefan Kachala, MD

Stefan Kachala, MD
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
General Surgery: Cornell University

Melissa Levack, MD

Melissa Levack, MD
Emory University
General Surgery: Massachusettes General Hospital

Third Year Fellow (Chief Resident)

Scott Halbreiner, MD

Scott Halbreiner, MD
Medical University of South Carolina
General Surgery: SUNY Stony Brook


Living in Cleveland

Cleveland is a mid-sized Midwestern city that offers world-class experiences at a low cost of living. The city is home to several of America’s best restaurants, including those of Iron Chef Michael Symon. The West Side Market is another culinary highlight with over 100 vendors.

The Cleveland Metroparks encircle the city and are comprised of over 21,000 acres of varied terrain, with hiking and biking trails, golf courses, fishing, tobogganing and cross-country skiing.

Cleveland’s professional sports teams are all located in downtown and have some of the country’s most enthusiastic fan support, with widespread tailgating for the Browns (NFL football) and massive playoff viewing parties for the Cavaliers (NBA basketball)

For the musical arts, the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the world’s most sought-after performing ensembles, performs at Severance Hall, located walking distance from the Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland is also home to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, with its elaborate exhibits and annual induction ceremonies.

Housing Information

A wide range of affordable housing options are available throughout Cleveland and its suburbs. Nearby neighborhoods are connected by a bus and light rail system. Purchasing homes near the Cleveland Clinic is supported by a generous down payment assistance program for residents. Furthermore, there are property tax abatements for new or recently constructed properties. and are good resources for property listings.

Downtown Cleveland: Located about a 10-minute drive or 15-minute bus ride from Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, downtown Cleveland is a lively, walkable neighborhood with numerous restaurants and bars and access to the city’s sporting events. There are numerous apartments and condos for rent and purchase.

University Circle and Little Italy: Located almost within walking distance of the Clinic or a short bicycle or bus ride, this neighborhood is home to Case Western Reserve University, as well as the Cleveland Art Museum and Severance Hall. Little Italy is a nearby historical neighborhood with numerous Italian restaurants and markets. Housing options include townhouses, single family homes, and apartments.

Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights: East of University Circle, these neighborhoods are more residential and are also popular options for Cleveland Clinic residents.

Ohio City and Tremont: Immediately west of downtown, these neighborhoods are becoming increasingly popular due to their burgeoning restaurant and bar scene.

Application Process

The program accepts two residents per year. We participate in the NRMP match. All applicants must apply through the ERAS website. All applicants must have completed a medical school degree.

Darlene Straub
Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency Coordinator, 216.445.6816

Edward Soltesz, MD
Program Director, Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency, 216.444.5680

Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Three hundred sixty-five graduates of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery practice in 40 states and 28 countries across the world.

Each year, alumni are invited to our June graduation weekend, a well-attended event that begins on a Thursday evening with a Visiting Professor lecture, followed by a reception. On Friday, our current residents present their year-long research projects to staff, the visiting professor, alumni and guests. A formal graduation ceremony and dinner is held Friday evening.

We strive to keep in touch with our alumni and value this continuing relationship. Throughout the year, alumni receive a number of mailings from the department, including an updated alumni directory, residents' abstract book from the June graduation event, periodic news of the department, and an annual calendar. The department calendar continues to be very popular among the alumni and highly requested by physicians outside of Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Tong facilitating discussion of an adult cardiac surgical case during resident didactics

For additional information, please contact:

Cleveland Clinic
Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
9500 Euclid Ave., Desk J4-1
Cleveland, OH 44195

Darlene Straub


Nanette Siebert

Reviewed: 06/15

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

Schedule an Appointment

Toll-free 800.659.7822

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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