Hospital Placement Opportunities for Undergraduates

RCSEd & Vascutek Cardiothoracic Surgery Placements for Undergraduates


Cardiothoracic surgery is one of the smallest surgical specialties but offers some of the most exciting and varied opportunities in which to practice medicine and surgery. With support from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), placements are being offered to a small number of senior medical students at UK universities to work under the supervision of consultant surgeons at James Cook Hospital in Middlesborough, Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, University Hospitals Bristol and other UK cardiothoracic centers. 

The placements offer students supervised time in the operating theatre and the opportunity to shadow the day-to-day activities of trainees, consultants and allied clinicians and professionals in the department. 

Objectives and Outcomes

Successful students will have the opportunity to shadow their supporting consultant and allied clinicians within a cardiothoracic surgery department during patient clinics, ward rounds and in the operating theatre. Students will undergo a brief induction at the beginning of the placement. 

Students will complete the placement with a signed logbook record (using the Surgical eLogbook) detailing their time spent in the operating theatre and if completed satisfactorily they will also receive a certificate of completion of the placement and a letter of reference from the consultant surgeon they have been attached to.   

Attachments are short (generally two weeks) and are designed to be intensive.  They aim to give students a real taste of what it is like to train and then practice in a modern heart or lung surgery team.  Our participating hospitals include opportunities to see the whole range of cardiothoracic surgery, from adult and congenital heart surgery through thoracic surgical oncology and transplantation for heart or lung failure. 


Applicants will be within two years of graduating from a UK medical school. Applicants will usually have already been actively involved in extra-curricular activities relating to cardiothoracic surgery, for example, attendance at undergraduate or postgraduate cardiothoracic surgery conferences or meetings, involvement in research or active reading in the specialty. The details of these activities should be listed on the application form. 

Applicants will be required to write a 500 word essay on why they want to be a cardiac or thoracic surgeon. This essay and the evidence of early years’ interest in the specialty will be considered by a panel of participating cardiothoracic consultant surgeons.  Successful applicants will choose their preferred hospital after being accepted, and not doing the initial application. 

Applications can be found and submitted here.


Successful applicants will stay in the hospital residences of their selected hospital. This provides basic hospital accommodation with local supermarkets nearby. The cost of the accommodation and one return journey to and from the assigned hospital will be covered by a small grant from the College up to the value of £300 per student. Students will be required to produce receipts for their accommodation and travel. 


We are now accepting applications for placements.

Applications are now open until Friday April 12 2024 AT 23.59 GMT. Applications can be found and submitted here. Any questions or queries can be directed to


Successful applicants will be required to write a short report on their experience of the placement for publication on the College website and potentially the College’s quarterly membership magazine Surgeons’ News (at the Editor’s discretion). Please see below for reports written by students who have completed the placement. 
One student's update can also be found on the College blog here from his 2023 placement in Bristol.


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