Dr. Dustin Walters is Section Chief for Thoracic Surgery in the Department of Surgery at UConn School of Medicine. This January he began caring for surgery patients at the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health.
He is a board-certified thoracic surgeon treating mainly lung cancer and esophageal diseases, both cancerous and benign. He also cares for patients with other diseases of the mediastinum, trachea, chest wall, and diaphragm.
Walters joins from Tufts Medical Center in Boston where he served as interim chief of its Division of Thoracic Surgery. He completed his cardiothoracic surgery fellowship training at the University of Washington and a research fellowship in surgical oncology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where he also completed both his general surgery residency training and medical education.
He specializes in minimally invasive robotic surgery using the Da Vinci system for lung cancer treatment. He also less-invasively surgically cares for esophageal cancer, benign esophageal conditions, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal motility disorders, mediastinal tumors, thymoma, myasthenia gravis, chest wall tumors, rib fractures, hiatal hernia, and diaphragm paralysis patients.
Walters has developed and utilizes Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) pathways for all thoracic surgical patients. This multidisciplinary ERAS approach combines minimally invasive surgical approaches with the latest techniques in pain management with a goal to minimize narcotic usage and return each patient back to their baseline health as quickly as possible.
“Cancer becomes more common as we age but can affect anyone. We leverage robotic surgery and our experienced team of nurses, anesthesiologists, and other health care professionals to help get our patients back home and to their normal life as soon as possible, often the day after surgery,” shares Walters, UConn Health’s section chief for thoracic surgery. “Surgical patients, especially those with cancer, want the best possible outcome, efficient care, and a team of providers who really care about them. That’s exactly what patients get when they come to UConn Health. At UConn we really do offer personalized care with a patient- and family-centered compassionate approach.”
He adds: “UConn Health provides a close-knit family-like environment that is a welcoming academic medical center for all patients, as well as staff and students,” says Walters. “That’s why I am at UConn.”
Walters also has local and national expertise in increasing physician wellness and preventing burnout. He nationally lectures and publishes on the critically important topic of health care provider wellbeing, focusing on fulfillment, belonging, and helping others function as their best selves.
“Everyone, including health care providers and trainees, needs fulfillment and wellbeing to fully function as our best selves when caring for others – which is at the heart of all we do,” concludes Walters.