Featured Profile

Rita Milewski, MD

Growing up in a small coal mining town in the Midwest, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to achieve my goal of becoming a cardiac surgeon and surgeon educator. Over the past 30 years, it has been rewarding to be a part of the extraordinary technological and surgical advances in Cardiothoracic Surgery and to offer these to patients to improve their lives. I am honored to play a small part in the incredible advancements gained by women in Cardiothoracic Surgery as they attain well-deserved leadership positions. I encourage women to continue to push forward to lead the future of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

I have been privileged to be a surgeon educator training residents both locally as a Program Director in the operating room and CTICU and nationally as Cardiac Section Editor for the STS Curriculum. I believe that, as Cardiothoracic Surgeons, our careers are measured not by the number of cases we do but by the number of generations of residents we train. Socrates once stated, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” I encourage all surgeons to kindle the flame of learning in all our residents and future leaders in the field of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Milewski is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Yale University with a focus on Education, Critical Care, and Mechanical Support. She was inducted as a member of AATS in 2019. With a PhD in Genetics, she served as a PI for NHLBI GenTAC. She is the Medical Director of the Yale Adult ECMO Program and has authored three chapters on ECMO management.

As a medical educator, Dr. Milewski obtained a Masters in Medical Education and is the Yale Cardiothoracic Residency Program Director. She serves on the TSDA Executive Committee as Councilor and content writer for the In-Service Training Exam and is the prior Chair of the TSDA Early Specialization Committee. She is the Cardiac Section Editor for the STS Curriculum and faculty for STS Boot Camp. She serves on the STS Workforce on Continuing Education and Maintenance of Certification and is the Vice-Chair for Workforce on Multidisciplinary Care Teams.

As highlighted in her nomination by Dr. Madonna Lee:

There are so few female cardiac surgeons in mid-late career. Even fewer have fully-developed academic profiles that can serve as a model for junior academic female CTS faculty. I have had the fortune of working with Dr. Milewski in her new position at Yale as the I-6 Residency Program Director. She is also Director of Education and Simulation of the Adult CTICU. She tirelessly mentors and teaches students, residents/fellows, and ICU faculty/staff. As Vice-Chair of the STS Workforce in Multidisciplinary Teams, Dr. Milewski demonstrates development of compassionate and effective communication tools for the advancement of improved patient care. Her vast experiences and contributions to the academic field of CTS focused on “Education” and “Collaboration” deserve to be highlighted.”