Get to Know Know Your Leaders | Andy Miller, MD, FACC: ACC Secretary and Board of Governors Chair
"I have been fortunate to have a career guided by tremendous mentorship and diverse professional experiences that have fueled my enthusiasm for clinical investigation and lifelong learning," says ACC Secretary and Board of Governors (BOG) Chair Andy Miller, MD, FACC. "My service to the College has been my ‘fire in the belly’ passion since taking on the role of governor of the Alabama Chapter in 2015."
Miller graduated with honors from Miami University in Oxford, OH, with a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies and matriculated from the Indiana University School of Medicine, graduating with highest honors in 1998. At Indiana, he participated in clinical and fundamental studies of surgical approaches to congenital heart disease as a part-time employment during medical school. Miller completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in cardiovascular disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he was chief fellow. He completed a clinical-scientist fellowship track with two years of dedicated research time on an Institutional National Research Service Award T32 grant with Suzanne Oparil, MD, FACC, publishing fundamental research describing the cascade of inflammatory events after vascular injury and making original observations on aging-related changes in these responses to estrogen.
"I have been fortunate to have a career guided by tremendous mentorship and diverse professional experiences that have fueled my enthusiasm for clinical investigation and lifelong learning. My service to the College has been my ‘fire in the belly’ passion since taking on the role of governor of the Alabama Chapter in 2015." — Andy Miller, MD, FACC
Miller stayed at UAB as associate director of the Cardiology Fellowship Program and as associate director of the Vascular Biology and Hypertension Program until 2008. In the clinical sphere, Miller co-edited a textbook on 3D echocardiography and teamed up with Susan Zieman, MD, FACC, and Karen Alexander, MD, FACC, to develop an ACC curriculum in geriatric cardiology, titled Essentials of Cardiovascular Care in Older Adults (ECCOA).
“Mentorship is the bedrock for my enthusiasm to advocate for our patients and members at the ACC,” says Miller. “I’ve received great inspiration and guidance from clinicians who had been themselves mentored by the great Tinsley R. Harrison, MD, as well as by pioneers in imaging like Navin Nanda, MD, FACC, and exceptional cardiologists, including Oparil and Vera Bittner, MD, FACC.
Miller is a member of CardioVascular Associates of the Southeast, a now-integrated 70-year-old practice of 32 cardiologists and 10 advanced practice professionals in Birmingham. “When we integrated in 2011, I was elected by my peers as one of three physician leaders on the Joint Operating Committee, a dyad-team of physicians and administrators who make strategic and operational decisions for the practice,” Miller says. “This role has brought my attention to the professional need for support of the nonclinical competencies and encouraged my enthusiasm for team-based care.”
As a clinical cardiologist, Miller finds patient experiences and “the sacred time we spend behind the closed clinic door” as his daily inspiration. “I was inspired to enter medicine by a mother who was a nurse,” notes Miller. “It was probably my father who instilled a desire to collect things since he started my penny collection at a very early age. As such, in his office, Miller has many keepsakes from some of his most precious experiences with patients. Miller shared the stories that accompanied three of these keepsakes.
“KW was a graduate of Julliard who I first met in 2008 when she was admitted with a terrible dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. We spent the next six years together battling the natural history of this condition to try to maintain her functional ability and independence. It was a tough fight and eventually involved peritoneal dialysis. She was one of the most beautiful individuals I have ever known. Through all her medical problems, she continued to paint and inspired a touring collection of art from individuals with disabilities. I keep her ‘mermaid’ on my wall and a bag of sand she collected from her last trip to the beach on my desk.”
“MJ lived to the age of 106. Her secrets of success included a constant laugh, eating whole foods out of her garden and walking to teach Sunday school at her church. In the 1950s and 1960s, her family housed many civil rights leaders in Birmingham when hotels were not available to them. I met her at age 101 when she had her first myocardial infarction and her family adopted me as an honorary member. She, and her three living siblings, lived independently in ‘home house’ providing a verbal history of an important past. I keep pictures of her last birthday party that I attended in my office.”
As a clinical cardiologist, Miller finds patient experiences and “the sacred time we spend behind the closed clinic door” as his daily inspiration. In his office, Miller has many keepsakes from some of his most precious experiences with patients.
“RW came to me with refractory hypertension with all of its complications, severe coronary disease and multiple comorbidities at age 71. He had this presence and love for life that was indescribable. When he developed respiratory failure and a complicated course after bypass surgery, I held hands with RW and his wife and we considered withdrawal of support. Through an endotracheal tube, he told us he was only 71 and he was going to live! He did, he went home, learned to do home dialysis, and enjoyed precious time with his family and especially a grandson. I carry his poem in my wallet.”
Miller’s passion for patient-centered care will undoubtedly guide his time as a leader of the ACC. In his role as BOG Chair, Miller is working closely with BOG Chair-Elect Akshay Khandelwal, MD, FACC, and together they plan to lead as a team. Additionally, they have identified four key areas which are “all poised for action at this moment in the College:”
- Diversity and inclusion – for both under-represented minorities and women
- Prior authorization reform
- Support of the cardiovascular enterprise including the business of medicine and nonclinical competencies
- Maintenance of certification and self-assessment programs
To achieve goals around each of these four topics, as well as many others that the BOG hopes to accomplish this year aligning with the College’s Strategic Plan, Miller shares that he believes that “communication is the path to community.”
“I am guided by a duty and commitment to our profession and its service to patients,” says Miller. “As the ACC Secretary and BOG Chair, I want to advocate for all members of the ACC in fulfilling the Mission and Vision of the College.”
Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Internship and Residency, Fellowships and Scholarships, Mentors, Schools, Medical, Interdisciplinary Studies, Internal Medicine, Certification, Patient-Centered Care
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