SUNY Downstate Medical Center Alumna Earns National Recognition for Receiving Specialty Credential In Cardiovascular And Thoracic Surgery

Apr 2, 2019

Melanie Cottone

 – SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Health-Related Professions (CHRP) graduate Melanie L. Cottone, MHA, PA-C, FAPACVS, has earned national recognition for receiving a specialty credential—the Certificate of Added Qualifications—for cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. The Certificate of Added Qualifications is a distinction earned by meeting rigorous and demanding licensure, education, and experience requirements, and then passing a national exam in the specialty. 

The certification program is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and designed only for physician assistants (PAs) who have displayed significant mastery and experience in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. Nationally, only 3.5 percent of PAs are cardiovascular and thoracic certified.

“SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s mission is to advance the medical sciences for the community at large, and Melanie is a testament to our mission of staying ahead of the curve on medical advancements,” said SUNY Downstate CHRP Dean Allen Lewis, Ph.D. “We are proud of her achievements as a SUNY Downstate alumna, and we congratulate Melanie on her accreditation and pursuit of life-long learning in the medical profession.”

Cardiovascular and thoracic PAs are critical members of the surgical specialty team and play a vital role in preparing patients for surgery, assisting during procedures and providing post-surgical care. Cardiothoracic surgery includes coronary artery bypass surgery, heart transplant, lung transplant, and removal of parts of the lung affected by cancer.

“Pursuing a credential in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery was rigorous work; and it has solidified my expertise, key for when lives are on the line,” said Cottone. “I recently took on an educator role to mentor current and future physician assistants, and I look forward to sharing my specialty skills and knowledge to help develop other PAs on the surgical team.

To learn more about the Physician Assistant program at SUNY Downstate, click here.

To learn more about the CAQ in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, click here.


About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 376-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to University Hospital, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health-Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit