The objective of this clerkship is to expose students to patient care in the Intensive Care setting, with emphasis on

  • Patient management issues
  • Such as differential diagnosis
  • Rational laboratory and radiologic testing
  • Acute and chronic management of patients undergoing cardiac and thoracic surgery

Issues such as ventilator management, acute pharmacologic therapy for hemodynamic instability, effective antimicrobial therapy, nutritional support, and multisystem dysfunction will be addressed.

Responsibility for supervision of students will lie with the Anesthesiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery house staff and faculty.


Patient Care

Students will participate as an integral part of the Critical Care team that actively co-manages the patients in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CT-ICU).

Students will assume supervised responsibility

  • For evaluation
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Initiation and evaluation of therapy

Students will also be exposed to patient-care issues such as End of Life decisions, patient disposition, and family health care dynamics.

Students will be exposed to and have the opportunity to care for patients with a wide variety of life-threatening cardiac illnesses, which may include:

  • Acute hemodynamic swings associated with cardiac surgery
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Acute myocardial infarction
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Valvular disease, ventricular
  • Supraventricular arrhythmias
  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Aortic dissection
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Hypertensive emergency

There is also extensive exposure to coagulation abnormalities associated with cardiac bypass. The CT-ICU experience includes care of patients who have recovered from their initial cardiac or thoracic surgery but have returned to the ICU because of other medical and surgical illnesses.

Students will be exposed to and have the opportunity to observe, participate in, or perform a variety of procedures, such as

  • Arterial line placement
  • Central line placement
  • Hemodialysis catheter placement
  • PA catheter placement
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump use
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Endotracheal intubation
  • Thoracentesis
  • Paracentesis
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Temporary cardiac pacemaker utilization

Patient Simulation Laboratory (PSL)

Students may spend time in the Patient Simulation Laboratory (PSL), where they will have the opportunity to learn and practice management skills relating to

  • Acute cardiovascular
  • Pulmonary
  • Renal
  • Neurologic intensive care

Airway management skills such as

  • Mask ventilation
  • Endotracheal intubatio
  • Ventilator management 


Attendance at the daily Intensive Care lecture series, given by faculty members from the Critical Care Section of the Department of Anesthesiology is required.

How to Apply

Applications for an acting internship rotation in the Cardiothoracic Surgery Intensive Care Unit are accepted through the Visiting Student Application System (VSAS).

Applications will be accepted according to the dates in VSAS. Applications must be submitted 60 days prior to the requested rotation, and per university policy, all visiting students must rotate on the School of Medicine’s block dates.

Scholarship and Grants may be available for Clerkship programs.