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Grey’s Anatomy: The Best Cardiothoracic Surgeons, Ranked

There is an abundance of cardiothoracic surgeons in Grey’s Anatomy, but a few of them have distinguished themselves from the rest. These are the best.

Nearly every surgical specialty is explored in the long-running ABC drama, Grey’s Anatomy. The majority of the fan-favorite characters fell in love with General Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, and Cardiothoracic Surgery. But the latter — which focuses on ailments in the thorax — features a lot more than the rest on the show.

Cristina Yang — the current boss of the Klausman Institute — is the most distinguished cardiothoracic surgeon in the medical drama. However, she is not the only one with the skills to repair hearts, kidneys, lungs, and livers. A few doctors in the specialty have stood out, and while all of them are extremely qualified, some are not just better surgeons but better characters, in general.

5 Maggie Pierce

The show wastes no time in showing Maggie’s skill. While other doctors work their way to the top through a number of seasons, she is hired right away as Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

There are many facts to back up Maggie’s position as a top-tier surgeon. It’s stated that she was a child prodigy who ended up graduating from high school and college earlier than most people. Maggie’s open-heartedness and acceptance of others wows audiences too. Accepting a father that was away for years would be hard for some, but Maggie does so easily with Richard. And no matter how hard Meredith tries to push Maggie into a feud, it doesn’t work because Maggie is too loving and accommodating.

4 Teddy Altman

Teddy serves as Co-Head of Cardiovascular Surgery at Grey Sloan and Chief officer at MEDCOM during her time on the series. She also mentors Cristina and together, with Owen, has one of the best relationships in Grey’s Anatomy.

It takes intelligence and vision to come up up with new ideas in the medical field, and Teddy’s stem cell regenerative heart medicine project shows how brilliant of a doctor she is. Apart from having gifted hands, Teddy is honorable and the revelation that she quit her job at Columbia University Medical Center after her friend’s death in 9/11 to become a military doctor won the hearts of fans.

3 Erica Hahn

Hahn is tough with her colleagues, as seen during the LVAD incident, but patients appreciate her bedside manner. She is also full of love, and her pairing with Callie is one of the relationships fans would have loved to see in Grey’s Anatomy.

Superior skills never go unnoticed, and Seattle Presbyterian Hospital’s Dr. Stewart isn’t wrong when he describes Hahn as the best cardiovascular surgeon he’s ever worked with. Hahn follows Burke in the rankings because it’s constantly implied that he is the only one better than her. At Johns Hopkins Medical School, only Burke scores higher than her. She also loses out on awards to him.

2 Preston Burke


Burke starts his Grey’s Anatomy journey with a bang. As soon as he is introduced, he wastes no time in showing his competitive side by pushing to be Chief and butting heads with Derek. And he never changes.

Burke’s work speaks for itself. He not only keeps getting promotions, but he also wins the highly coveted Harper Avery Award. His ambition and business acumen then leads him to start the Klausman Institute for Medical Research. Burke’s career hardly has any blemishes, but he doesn’t get top spot because of his overbearing nature and being an unlikable character, in general. Not to mention, leaving Cristina at the altar is a sin most fans have refused to pardon.

1 Cristina Yang

Meredith’s “person” is also the best in the specialty. Known as the “Cardio God,” Cristina not only has one of the best nicknames in Grey’s Anatomy but also some of the most envy-triggering accomplishments.

Cristina isn’t just the best because she is a likable character. That dozens of hospitals approach her with gift baskets and incentives during her final year of residency reveals just how skilled she is. She is very competitive too, evident from how she easily won the “solo surgery” as an intern. Even more admirable is the fact that she chose to be a cardiothoracic surgeon after watching her father die from a car accident.

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