UKnow: Meyerson Named Chief of Thoracic Surgery at UK

By Allison Perry and Josh Shepherd

Accomplished thoracic surgeon and nationally known educator Dr. Shari Meyerson has joined UK HealthCare as the new chief of thoracic surgery in January. Also recognized as an innovative surgical educator, Meyerson will also lead UK’s cardiothoracic (CT) surgery fellowship and I-6 CT surgery residency programs in the Department of Surgery. 

Meyerson will direct the section of thoracic surgery as well as provide surgical leadership to the thoracic oncology team at the UK Markey Cancer Center. She comes to UK after nearly a decade as a faculty member with Northwestern University.

The fact that Kentucky has the highest incidence of lung cancer in the nation was a strong factor in Dr. Meyerson’s decision to come to UK. The patient population presents several unique challenges for a thoracic specialist, she said. Patients often present multiple co-morbidities with their cancer diagnoses or have other issues that complicate treatment. Many patients have to travel long distances from their home to receive the highly specialized cancer care that an NCI-designated facility like the Markey Cancer Center provides.

 “There is a lot that we want to do with this section of UK thoracic surgery to build a comprehensive program that gives our patients the best quality of life we can. UK gives me a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of patients,” Dr. Meyerson said.

In addition to her expertise in lung cancer treatment, Meyerson provides a wide range of care for thoracic conditions, including esophageal, mediastinal and pleural diseases. She specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques and has extensive experience performing and training others in video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). With regard to surgical education, Dr. Meyerson served as director of the traditional fellowship program and I-6 residency program at Northwestern University’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. She took the I-6 program from inception to graduating two new surgeons just prior to her arrival at UK.

“UK has traditionally maintained a very strong CT surgery training program. We plan to continue that tradition and expand it,” Meyerson said. The primary goal is to transform residents from being observers in their first year into fully autonomous cardiothoracic surgeons by their chief year. “It’s up to us, the faculty, to take residents from them watching us to us watching them operate,” Meyerson said

But a successful residency program encompasses more than surgical skills training. It’s also important for faculty to teach residents the business of medicine, including such basics as accurate procedure coding, contract negotiation, practice management, and other facets of the health care industry. Surgeons need to be as well prepared to manage their practice in a constantly changing environment as they are providing quality surgical care to their patients, she said.

Meyerson earned her medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine in 1996. She completed a residency in general surgery at University of Chicago Hospitals and a fellowship in thoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center. In 2015, she completed a Master of Education degree at the University of Cincinnati to enhance her skills as an educator.