Following in the Footsteps

By John G. Harold, MD, MACC

Forty years ago in San Francisco, my mentor Jeremy Swan, MD, took over as president of the ACC. Serving as ACC president is in itself an amazing honor, but to assume the same role in the same city as the one person who started me on my journey in cardiology is even more rewarding.

I met Dr. Swan when I came to Cedars-Sinai in 1982 to complete a 3-year cardiology fellowship under him. Cedars-Sinai was a powerhouse for cardiology leaders at the time, and Dr. Swan, who was serving as chair of the division of cardiology, was one of them. Dr. Swan, who had come to Cedars-Sinai in 1965, achieved international recognition in 1970, when he and William Ganz, MD, developed a balloon flotation catheter to measure pulmonary and wedge pressures and cardiac output at the bedside, aptly called the Swan-Ganz catheter.

Dr. Swan and I connected over our common Irish heritage and our passion for cardiology. He went the extra mile to offer advice and answer questions. It was also through him that I met ACC leaders like past president Eliott Corday, MD, and James S. Forrester, MD, who was recruited by Dr. Swan to work with the Swan-Ganz catheter.

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." Dr. Swan involved me. He involved me in research. He involved me with his patients. He also involved me with both the local and national cardiovascular community. As a result, I learned more than I could have dared to hope during my 3-year fellowship and made connections in the CV field that continue to serve me today.

Even more importantly, Dr. Swan modeled for me how to be a mentor. From him, I learned that a mentor needs to be a good listener, engaged and willing to devote time to others, honest, and knowledgeable. It also helps if he/she is successful and well respected by others in the field. Dr. Swan excelled in each of these areas and, as a result, his legacy lives on in me and countless others who had the privilege to work with him.

Today, with the United States facing a serious shortage of cardiologists, we need more Dr. Swan's. Unless actions are taken now to grow and foster the CV workforce to a level that will meet future demands, we will be unable to both meet the needs of patients and stem the growth of CVD.

On a more micro level, the College is also reliant on these mentors to grow future leaders. We need mentors to pass along the rich history of the College and involve the next generation of cardiologists and other cardiovascular professionals in shaping ACC programs, policies and priorities to best meet their respective needs and the needs of those coming behind.

Mentoring is a stage upon which cardiologists and others can not only share their own genuine excitement about all of the new discoveries and therapeutic possibilities that define their chosen careers, but also share their excitement about the College and all of the benefits and opportunities associated with membership. Dr. Swan did all of this and more for me. Because of him, I will be taking the stage during ACC.13 Convocation on March 11 to accept the presidential chain from William Zoghbi, MD.

I know that Dr. Swan will be walking with me in spirit. I can only hope that 40 years from now someone will be saying the same thing about me.

Clinical Topics: Invasive Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention

Keywords: Fellowships and Scholarships, Pulmonary Wedge Pressure, San Francisco, Cardiology, Career Choice, Catheterization, Swan-Ganz


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