News and Events
Where the Heart Is
By Jovie Baclayon
With determination to excel in a field where less than five percent are female, Pepperdine alumna Emily A. Farkas (Seaver, 1994) has become the first woman accepted into Yale University Hospital’s cardiothoracic surgical training in its 50-year history. Yale’s two-year program accepts only two applicants per year and is considered a training ground for the best and brightest heart and thoracic surgeons. “It’s definitely a huge honor,” says Farkas who will begin her residency in New Haven, Connecticut on July 1. “I suspect their selection criteria is based on a combination of academic achievements, recommendations regarding my technical ability and clinical skills from surgeons with whom I've trained, research pursuits, and the personal qualities they find to be important in a Cardiothoracic Surgeon.”
Raised in Pennsylvania, Farkas started on her career path in 1991 as a Pepperdine undergraduate majoring in Sports Medicine. “Pepperdine interested me because of its strong sports medicine program,” she says. “I was one of the first people to take part in their program in Australia at the University of Canberra and helped set up their sports medicine exchange program.”
While at the University, Farkas helped conduct research through the sports medicine department and credits Pepperdine for creating a foundation for furthering her education. “The faculty and staff helped coordinate and support my research at the University of Southern California’s Children’s Hospital and at UCLA,” she says.
After graduating Pepperdine, Farkas attended the Chicago Medical School and graduated in 2000. From there, she immediately began a five-year residency in New Orleans at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation because of its reputation in cardiothoracic surgery. She has also participated in international volunteer relief projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Sri Lanka and India. Nearing the end of her residency and knowing she wanted to continue her training in cardiothoracics, Farkas applied to Yale’s special program in 2004.
During her two years, Farkas will act as the chief resident and chief administrative resident in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital, St. Raphael's Hospital and at the West Haven Veterans Administration Hospital. She will receive extensive training on treating heart, chest and lung diseases, and conditions such as congenital heart disease, coronary artery bypass, heart failure, aneurysms, lung cancer and lymphoma. “Residents have a lot of responsibilities because by this level, we could be a practicing general surgeon so we’re not considered students or trainees. You’re fine-tuning your skills in this sub-specialty,” says Farkas.
In addition to her rotation, Farkas will be an instructor at the teaching hospitals, conduct research programs, and attend medical conferences and seminars. Residents average a 100-hour workweek but Farkas says hospitals are working to improve the hours in order to encourage more people to become doctors. “It’s been a lot of sacrifice and hard work but there’s no question in my mind that it will be worth it in the end,” she says.
Her goals after the residency at Yale are to find a full-time job at a hospital as a cardiothoracic surgeon and to become a faculty member at a university. There is no doubt that Farkas’ talent, drive and commitment to healing others will cause her to be a leader in her field and a role model for women.