Jefferson Surgical Solutions


The Department of Surgery’s Smoking Cessation, Counseling & Therapy (SCCT) Program offers evidencebased strategies for quitting smoking, including one-on-one counseling, nicotine replacement therapy and prescription medication, such as Chantix and Wellbutrin, to reduce cravings and lessen withdrawal symptoms. Although the program started as a resource for patients preparing for cardiac or thoracic surgery, it is now available to many more patients—and nurse practitioners Chuck Rowland, MSN, CRNP, CTTS, and Sung Whang, MSN, CRNP, CTTS, are eager to spread the word.

Chuck and Sung are both Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists (CTTS). They each completed an intensive 40-hour course offered by the Tobacco Dependence Program at Rutgers University. This particular program is one of a select group of training programs nationally accredited by the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence. Chuck started the training in 2011 and helped the Department launch the program at Jefferson in 2012 on the suggestion of thoracic surgeon Scott W. Cowan, MD, FACS. Sung earned the certification shortly after joining Jefferson in 2013.

“It’s never a good idea to be actively smoking when you’re scheduled for surgery,” Chuck explains. “While some time-sensitive operations must be performed regardless of tobacco use, quitting two to three weeks before surgery is strongly encouraged for most operations. Some of our surgeons even order a blood test to confirm no tobacco use. It is in the patient’s best interest.”

Indeed, the benefits of smoking cessation start quickly—with heart rate and blood pressure decreasing to near-normal levels within two hours of quitting and physical stamina improving in three weeks.

Following the initial launch, the Department opened up the program to vascular surgery patients and then those with heart failure. Over time, the service has expanded and is now open to all Jefferson patients. For any patient, the first step in the six- to eight-week program is an approximately one-hour in-person consultation with Chuck or Sung.

“We review the patient’s entire smoking history—when they started, how much they smoke, their daily routine, triggers, whether other smokers are living with them and past attempts at quitting,” Sung says. “Based on that information, we use motivational interviewing to come up with an individualized plan. That could include as many as three modalities, with a patient using nicotine patches and gum, as well as medication.” Sung and Chuck follow up with patients in whatever manner is most convenient for the patient— whether in person, via phone or using the JeffConnect telehealth service.

Beyond patient care, Chuck and Sung are beginning to collaborate on research with colleagues from the Jefferson Vascular Center, where the vast majority of patients are smokers. Though still in the early planning stage, the randomized study will likely compare patients who receive in-clinic smoking cessation counseling for 10 minutes or less with patients who are referred for the program’s more intensive counseling.

For more information about the Smoking Cessation, Counseling and Therapy Program, please visit: Jefferson.edu/SCCT

Learn more about JeffConnect, a service that ‘connects’ you with our healthcare team — anytime, anywhere — through your phone, tablet or computer: Jefferson.edu/JeffConnect