Thoracic surgery fellowship

Surgeons working on a patientSpectrum Health and Michigan state university college of human medicine logo

The Spectrum Health/Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Thoracic Surgery Fellowship is committed to providing the best academic and clinical training program for our fellows. This two-year Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education program prepares our physicians for certification by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. 

Spectrum Health has the highest-volume cardiac surgery program in Michigan. To see our latest outcomes and quality data, download our 2021 heart, lung and vascular outcomes report. Fellows enjoy opportunities to learn in a state-of-the-art facility providing innovative cardiovascular care. From open heart surgery and transplant to minimally invasive interventions, our physicians and clinical teams are experienced in blending individualized patient plans with a complete dedication to quality outcomes.


Thank you for considering the Spectrum Health/Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Thoracic Surgery Fellowship program.

Our passion is teaching, and the entire program is designed with the fellow in mind. Fellows will train at the largest medical center in West Michigan, which is affiliated with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. As a fellow in our program, you will pursue your passions in clinical and academic cardiac and general thoracic surgery.

Additionally, you will have research opportunities to with exposure to innovative clinical and translational research studies on a national level.

Spectrum Health is a nationally recognized, high-quality center with high clinical volume that utilizes innovative surgical procedures and advanced techniques, reassuring patients they are receiving the best clinical care possible from some of the most experienced and skilled surgeons in the world. We have amongst the highest clinical volumes in the state of Michigan for LVAD, TAVR, lobectomies, and valvular and coronary surgery. Our tremendous procedural volumes enable our fellows to be exposed to complex adult and congenital cases while maintaining the highest-quality outcomes and an exceptional patient experience.

We provide a dynamic conference series focusing on the educational needs of fellows, attending physicians, residents, medical students, and staff. Fellows can also be part of our quality improvement programs, internal and external lecture series with international experts, and cardiovascular-based journal clubs, along with participating in and leading educational conferences.

The goal of the cardiothoracic surgery faculty is to make your fellowship training the best in the country.

Charles Willekes, MD
Program Director
Spectrum Health/Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Thoracic Surgery Fellowship


    Program Aims

    • Ability to preform routine operations, common to cardiac and thoracic surgery independently 
    • Have the experience to perform more complex cardiac and thoracic surgery cases
    • Competent and comfortable managing patients in all phases of care
    • Continue to develop in professionalism and leadership at the local and national level
    • Research exposure in the filed of cardiothoracic surgery

      Clinical Environment

      Spectrum Health offers a wide breadth of cardiology, cardiothoracic and vascular services. Through Spectrum Health’s partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, fellows are surrounded by an academic environment including residents and medical students. The approach to patient care if often through multidisciplinary, collaborative team approach. Weekly Heart Team meetings allow our clinicians to come together to formalize individual treatment plans for complex cardiac cases. We believe this improves our cardiac surgical outcomes and helps maintain our 3-star rating designating Spectrum Cardiac Surgery as a center of excellence. 

      Our thoracic surgery department benefits from the same approach as a multidisciplinary team evaluates lung cancer patients each week with a team of radiologists, pulmonologists, oncologists and surgeons deciding on the best care for each patient. With two dedicated DaVinci robotic machines for cardiothoracic surgery, over 85% of our lobectomies are preformed robotically and a rising number of esophagectomies. 

      As a nationally recognized health care system, Spectrum Health provides high-quality clinical care to thousands of patients each year. Here are some of our clinical volumes from calendar year 2020.

      Cardiothoracic Surgeries
      Cardiac Surgery1,504
      Thoracic Surgery (lobectomies)407
      Heart Transplant19
      Lung Transplant48
      Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)43
      Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
      Structural Heart


      The curriculum of the cardiothoracic surgery fellowship training program is designed to meet the goals delineated by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and prepares our physicians for certification by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. The 24-month core curriculum gives exposure to the essential rotations in cardiothoracic surgery.

      Sample Rotation

      Fellows participate in various outpatient clinics a half day per week. The below rotation schedule is our current two year schedule. There is opportunity to vary the rotations based on different interests or professional goals.

      First year

      • Thoracic Surgery: 3 blocks
      • Cardiac Surgery: 6 blocks
      • CT CCU: 1 block
      • Cardiac TAVR: 1 block
      • Pediatric/congenital heart: 2 blocks

      Second Year

      • Thoracic Surgery: 3 blocks
      • Cardiac Surgery: 10 blocks


      Education has been a long-standing mission of Thoracic Surgery Fellowship. The faculty have constructed a dedicated lecture series designed for fellows addressing basic management of all aspects of cardiology, specifically geared towards fellows during their first few months of training. In addition, the faculty has a list of conferences throughout the year that fellows, attendings and staff are expected to attend.


      Clinical research is a part of our key strategic vision at Spectrum Health and cardiothoracic has an active research portfolio that focuses on industry clinical trials, pre-clinical animal studies and investigator-initiated studies. We have a large cardiovascular research department which provides support to our physicians, and includes research nurses, coordinators, assistants, statisticians, budget negotiations and financial analysis and Q&A. The Heart and Vascular Institute works in collaboration with numerous institutions across the globe, including the Magdi Yacoub Institute, Van Andel Research Institute, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University and the DeVos Cardiovascular Research Program.

      Cardiovascular Simulation Center

      Spectrum Health opened a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art dedicated cardiovascular simulation center in July 2017. The simulation center will train and educate future physician leaders and staff by utilizing innovative simulation, applied experiential learning, and hands-on technology to improve patient safety and outcomes. By providing medical education in a supportive, controlled environment, clinicians master key competencies and skills with zero risk to patients. The Spectrum Health Cardiovascular Simulation Center features:

      Monitor room to view fellows, residents and staff
      Simulation Center conference rooms
      • 2,700 square feet, with a flexible design for education, training and outreach
      • A simulation operating room to support complex procedures allowing fellows to practice multidisciplinary patient care transitions
      • An operating room procedural monitor room that allows the viewing of fellows, residents and staff, and controlling high-fidelity simulation
      • Technology equipment linked for two-way communication between the hybrid and simulation OR
      • A flexible conference space for didactics and training, hosting outside partners
      • Viewing into the hybrid and simulation operating room utilizing information system equipment
      • A flexible wet lab space for smaller simulation equipment and potential for “wet tissue” training
      • A dedicated study space for residents and fellows to use throughout their training
      Study space for residents and fellows to use

      Application Requirements

      All applications need to be submitted through the Electronic Residency Application Service. Please be advised of the following:

      • Applicants must have completed an ACGME-accredited residency program, or an RCPSC-accredited or CFPC-accredited residency program located in Canada.
      • All applicants must possess U.S. work authorization or be eligible for J-1 status

      For more information on our program, contact Angela Schuett, program coordinator.

      Salary and Benefits

      Spectrum Health provides a comprehensive and very competitive benefits package for our residents, staff and their families. In addition, our program provides educational monies to support your ongoing education. Download our salary and benefits document to learn more.
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      As the second largest city in Michigan, Grand Rapids is an amazing place to work, live, play and explore. This vibrant city is known for some of the best festivals in the world, like ArtPrize, and is only a short 45 minute drive to Lake Michigan. The city has been recognized by numerous sources, including The New York Times, where Grand Rapids was ranked as one of the 52 Places to Go. Additionally, Thrillist considers Grand Rapids the best food city in the state of Michigan, and in 2018, Trulia chose Grand Rapids as the Hottest Real Estate Market to Watch in the country. Grand Rapids is a city with endless experiences for people of every age.

      Program Director

      Associate Program Director

      Core Faculty

      Class of 2024

      Hakan Ogutcu, MD
      Hakan Ogutcu, MD

      General Surgery: Arrowhead Regional Medical Center

      Hakan Ogutcu, MD
      Hakan Ogutcu, MD

      General Surgery: Arrowhead Regional Medical Center

      Class of 2023

      M. Neal Foley, DO
      M. Neal Foley, DO

      General Surgery: HCA Healthcare Sunrise Health

      M. Neal Foley, DO
      M. Neal Foley, DO

      General Surgery: HCA Healthcare Sunrise Health

      Ready to Apply?

      We participate in the National Resident Matching Program and use the Electronic Residency Application Service.