ACC International CV Exchange Database Shows Value of Global Clinical Experiences

The expansion of global opportunities for early career cardiologists can provide innumerable benefits not only to the participants themselves, but to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease around the world, according to a council perspective from ACC’s Early Career Section published June 6 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

As the global burden of cardiovascular disease persists, cultivating interest in global health in early career cardiologists is vital. To this end, ACC’s Early Career Section formed the ACC International Cardiovascular Exchange Database, a resource for cardiologists interested in pursuing short-term clinical exchange opportunities abroad. The database leverages ACC’s international network to generate a list of institutions interested in hosting visiting cardiologists, and collects feedback from early career cardiologists on their own global health training. 

The authors describe several important lessons learned from global health experiences. They explain that mastering the bedside physical examination and use of mobile technology in resource-limited settings is critical. When it is difficult or impossible to obtain x-rays, basic metabolic panels, and other diagnostic tools, taking a thorough history and performing a comprehensive bedside exam become more important than ever. The use of advanced portable technologies, like clinical smartphone apps, also has proved beneficial in hospitals with resource constraints. Experience in these environments also helps sharpen the participants’ triage and resource allocation skills.

Another noteworthy advantage of participating in global health experiences is the opportunity to learn new skills and use new technologies not yet available or approved in the U.S., according to the authors. Differences in approval processes mean that health care professionals in European countries often begin using novel and advanced methods and devices before their U.S. counterparts. “Exposure to new technologies at an earlier career stage and to operators with more experiences enhances one’s clinical competence,” reported one database participant.

When more early career cardiologists leave the U.S. to gain clinical experience abroad, more global cardiovascular disease research collaborations form, the authors note. As one participant described, “Forming these global cardiovascular research and mentorship relationships as a trainee provides one with a broader network of collaborators at a critical time in the transition to an academic early-career cardiologist.”

According to Andrew Freeman, MD, FACC, an author of the paper and a member of ACC’s Early Career Section, “Global experiences are important for many people to broaden their worldview. For cardiologists, seeing how the rest of the world practices cardiology and being able to make impactful changes as a new cardiologist are incredibly important to the development of one's career.”

Keywords: Cardiovascular Diseases, Clinical Competence, Cooperative Behavior, Global Health, Mentors, Physical Examination, Physicians, Resource Allocation, Triage, X-Rays

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