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SCTS Consultant Education Academy: The Virtues of a Cardiothoracic Surgeon - Series 1 and Series 2

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Unfortunately we have had to postpone this course, new dates for 2022 will be published soon


As doctors, cardiothoracic surgeons require technical prowess, compassion for their patients, ability to teach and lead teams. It can be difficult to achieve and maintain balance, especially when technical ability is the main output by which success is measured.

This short course will aim to look at how cardiac and thoracic surgeons develop their professional skills as consultants. It will look through the lens of virtue ethics, which was pioneered by Aristotle. Rather than conventional ethics, that tells people what they should or should not do, virtue ethics helps people develop their professional character to have the virtues that are needed for their role as a doctor.

This masterclass is for all consultant cardiiothoracic surgeons including cardiac, thoracic or cardiothoracic.


20-30 cardiothoracic surgeon consultants (regardless of years post CCST).

Delegates will be required to complete pre-assessment tasks before the workshop and you will be sigining up to two workshops, series 1 (Thursday 7th October) and series 2 (Thursday 21st October) taking place 2pm - 3:30pm.


A major issue for senior clinicians is to understand what constitutes professional behaviour. Many specialities, especially craft disciplines, value technical ability over everything else. While this may be appropriate in terms of early training, this can mean that consultants are not always supported to understand what it means to be a senior doctor. Consultants are expected not only to have technical expertise, but also behave correctly to their patients (behaving compassionately, communicating etc.), leading the teams they are part of and developing their field (for example by research and education).

Most modern ethical approaches concentrate on whether an action is right or wrong, they use either rules (codes, guidelines or regulations) or look at the outcomes (are the consequences of the action good?) to determine what to do. An alternative approach, initially developed by Aristotle, was to consider the virtues that a person should have. These virtues are character traits that can be developed, and lead to the person acting in a morally good manner.

There has been a revival in virtue ethics in the last 40 years, in large part related to helping professionals understand their roles. The idea of virtues, together with thinking about the purpose of a profession, give people the tools to make decisions that are not only morally right but also the decisions that lead to successful professional behaviour.

In this programme we will consider what it means to be a professional cardiac surgeon consultant. We will start by looking at what is the purpose of being a consultant surgeon, thinking about what the role is. This will lead to a discussion about the virtues needed for being successful in the role (using as a basis the 24 character strength model developed by Seligman). The delegates will also undertake the VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) which will allow them to appreciate their strengths, this will be done before the programme starts, with the results discussed during the session. We will also explore how to develop and use the delegate’s virtues to achieve good outcomes (professionally and ethically).

The outcome will be a better understanding of what it means for be a professional as a consultant cardiac surgeon, and what the individual’s key virtues are and approaches to developing and using virtues appropriately.


Andrew George is conducting research in the field of virtue ethics and professional behaviour. He will ask all delegates consent to use data from the study (psychometric scores, feedback and outcomes) in an anonymous manner for his research. This research will be submitted to Henley ethics committee for approval.

Programme leader

Andrew George is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London. He is an immunologist who is recognised for his work in transplantation and cancer immunotherapies. He has also been Deputy Vice Chancellor at Brunel Univeristy. Andrew is currently Chair of Imperial College Health Partners and on the Board of Health Education England and the Health Research Authority, as well as a mental health NHS Trust. He has considerable experience in applied ethics, and chaired the national body that provides oversight for Research Ethics Committees. He is a qualified Executive Coach, supporting leaders in the NHS and other sectors to achieve their potential. He uses the concept of virtue ethics to help leaders, boards and other teams develop their purpose and ways of being successful.

Andrew has an MA from Cambridge, a PhD from Southampton, a DSc from Imperial College. He was awarded an MBE for his work in research ethics. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, the Higher Education Academy, the Royal Society for Arts and the Royal Society of Biology.

Andrew George will be working on behalf of AJTG Ltd, his website is

Day 1: 7 October

Outline of the day

The programme on this day will give delegates an opportunity to think about what it means to be a professional as a cardiothoracic surgeon consultant. It will introduce virtue ethics, and give people the opportunity to develop their understanding of the moral purpose (telos) of the role.


2.00-2.10            Introduction                                                                                           

2.10-2.20            Framing of discussion                                                                           

2.20-2.40            Group discussion: what does it feel like to be a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon?

2.40-3.00            Talk on Virtue ethics                                                                             

3.00-3.20            Small group discussion, what is the telos of a professional cardiothoracic consultant surgeon?

3.20-3.30            Plenary

In between sessions

Andrew will collate the telos sentences and circulate

Delegates will take the VIA test. AG will arrange this. Instructions will be sent out.

AG will provide some reading (2 sides of A4) going into more depth about telos and the virtues in preparation for the next session. Delegates will be expected to read that.

Day 2: 21 October

2.00-2.10            Check in – reflections on purpose.

2.10-2.30            Talk on virtues                                                                                        

2.30-3.00            Small groups. what are the virtues needed to be a good cardiothoracic surgical consultant

3.00-3.15            Plenary discussion of virtues

3.00-3.25           What are our virtues?

3.25-3.30           Wrap up

Book online for this event

This event is awaiting approval for CME
Organised by: Emma Piotrowski of SCTS Education
Phone Number: 07719323642


Please find a list of tickets for this event below.

Ticket Price
Any Consultant member £50.00

Delegate Terms and Conditions

Please note you must be a Consultant SCTS Member to attend this course. A refundable deposit is required which will be refunded upon attendance and completion of the feedback form.

Delegates will be required to complete a pre-assessment tasks to complete before the workshop and you will be sigining up to two workshops, series 1 (Thursday 7th October) and series 2 (Thursday 21st October) taking place 2pm - 3:30pm.

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