Ask the Residents Education

Meet the Residents: Brendan Heiden and Jason Gauthier, Thoracic Surgeons

Residents in the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are part of an academic program with diverse surgical training, strong research opportunities and mentors who are national leaders in their fields.

With residency programs in General SurgeryPlastic SurgeryUrology and Vascular Surgery, residents in every specialty have access to world-class training. What makes each of these programs truly special is the community and camaraderie.

Brendan Heiden, MD, and Jason Gauthier, MD, are General Surgery residents at Washington University.

Dr. Brendan Heiden
Brendan Heiden, MD
Dr. Jason Gauthier
Jason Gauthier, MD

Dr. Heiden is from Grand Rapids, MI and attended University of Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry. His medical school training was completed at University of Michigan.

From Morgan City, LA, Dr. Gauthier received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Louisiana State University. He attended Tulane for his graduate studies in medicine.

Why was WashU the best fit for you?

BH: WashU has an incredible mixture of surgical experiences that optimize training. For example, in addition to being a major (and busy) level 1 trauma center, our cancer center is one of the largest in the Midwest with a multi-state catchment area. Such diverse training if highly valuable and relatively rare, especially with a faculty that is so devoted to teaching. Additionally, WashU is an academic powerhouse. It is very easy to become highly productive, and quickly.

JG: WashU is one of only a handful of programs in this country that is exceptional in every surgical subspecialty. Among these programs, WashU offers much more flexibility in training than most – both during “lab years” and in the last 2 years of clinical training. This lets you focus on becoming who you want to be professionally, and you’ll be supported no matter what that may be.

What makes WashU attendings special? Is there a memorable moment with a mentor you could share?

JG: WashU faculty are all fully committed to our training. It’s a substantial part of their job and they are passionate about it – that’s why they’re here.

What is a valuable piece of advice you’ve received from faculty? 

JG: Regarding surgical technique, “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast” – Dr. Pasque

What do you like about research training at WashU (if applicable)?  Or what are your research interests? 

BH: My academic interests are in thoracic surgery, particularly the treatment of early-stage lung cancer. WashU has an incredible number of resources to support research among trainees. In particular, the Division of Population Health Sciences (which offers the MPHS degree) has tons of faculty members who are interested in collaborating on cutting-edge clinical and translation projects.

JG: Lung transplant immunology and outcomes. WashU surgery has a storied past hallmarked by discovery and innovation. It’s been an honor being a part of that here and keeping the research going.

What do you like most about your fellow residents? 

BH: We spend a lot of time hanging together outside of the hospital. There is so much to do in St. Louis, and as a mid-size and inexpensive city, it is easy to do a lot with your time outside of the hospital.

JG: They’re all stellar doctors and fun people that I enjoy being around. They inspire me to be better both at work and at home.

What is your favorite resident team bonding/event/outing and why?

BH: The program has a set of Blues and Cardinals tickets. These games are always tons of fun and a great opportunity to hang out with co-residents. Even outside of the “surgery seats,” tickets are relatively inexpensive so it is easy to go with friends/family whenever you want!

JG: Paintball! Ax throwing! City Museum! Too many to count!

What do you plan to do after graduation?

BH: Academic thoracic surgeon

JG: Thoracic surgery

What advice do you have for those applying for residency?

BH: Relax. Be yourself. You are picking a program; don’t be fooled into thinking that the program is picking you!

JG: First make a list of programs that are good at everything, just in case you change your mind about your intended specialty. Then find the part of the country that you want to live in. These 2 selection criteria will cut your list down a lot. Finally, if you have family or a significant other moving with you, discuss your short list with them and let them choose – no matter where you go for training, you’ll work a lot, and they have to be happy when you’re not there.

What is your favorite thing about living in St. Louis? 

JG: The city is great, perfect for families. The surrounding country is beautiful, great for those that like the outdoors.

What are your top 3 places to go in St. Louis?


  1. The Blues (Enterprise Center)
  2. The Cardinals (Busch Stadium)
  3. The St. Louis Zoo (Forest Park – always free!)


  1. The zoo
  2. City Museum
  3. Forest Park

What do you do to check in with yourself and ensure your wellness is a priority? 

BH: We have an incredible support staff through the program and hospital. The hospital also sits on Forest Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country. This is a great place to go for a run after work. There is also tons to do inside – the Zoo, Boathouse, Science Center, History Museum, The Muny. The close proximity of all of these activities to the hospital maximizes wellness.

Washington University Residencies

To learn more about residency programs at Washington University School of Medicine, visit For information about the General Surgery residency program, visit