ACC State Chapters For Early Career Cardiologists: What, Why and How?
After many years of compartmentalized and structured training, the start of a career often requires "starting over." This may be in a new city, state or even country. It could also represent stepping away from a teaching or academic environment; perhaps for the first time. For many, this new chapter in life comes with building a family and buying a home. In other words, the transition from fellow-in-training to practice or faculty is one of the most challenging and monumental. Finding the right support, personally and professionally, during this time can be the difference between a successful start and a frustrating beginning.
The importance of having a community-based support system is often an overlooked and underestimated aspect of everyday life. We thrive on our ability to be independent and self-sufficient. We surround ourselves with likeminded individuals and in the process perhaps become insular. The same can be said of our careers. The constant need to pursue goals, meet deadlines and treat an endless line of patients can take away from the personal process of building, bettering and growing. Finding support to facilitate those goals can be immensely helpful.
One resource is the ACC State chapter. This represents a unique (and underutilized) opportunity to access support and a community of fellow cardiovascular health professionals. The first state chapter was established in 1986 and since then, almost every state and region has established its own chapter. I recently asked one of my previous faculty mentors, Friederike Keating, MD, FACC, current governor of the ACC Northern New England (Vermont) chapter, to summarize the benefits of being engaged with the ACC state chapters. Her summarized response was the following:
- National advocacy: Through their leadership, governors and past governors advocate for ACC members at the national ACC level. ACC state leaders are uniquely positioned to know the needs of the ACC members at the grassroot level, and relay these needs/concerns to ACC national. This is, for example, how the ACC became so focused on negotiating with the ABIM regarding the ABIM recertification process. Visible results are the MOC units that are offered through societal organizations such as the ACC both online via ACC.org and at ACC meetings. Other issues have included pushing the ACC to be a strong voice in healthcare reform and educating members on MACRA.
- State level advocacy: Represent cardiology at the State Legislative level. Chapters often collaborate with other state medical societies when it comes to legislative advocacy.
- Education: Organize and hold educational meetings, usually annual meetings. The scope of these varies from ACC Chapter to ACC Chapter. Successful large ACC Chapters put on multi-day meetings with separate sessions for mid-level CV providers and other member sub-sections (Women in Cardiology, Fellows in Training, etc.).
- Cardiovascular Team engagement: Engage "CV Team members" i.e. nurses, mid-level CV providers, pharmacists, etc.
Each ACC state chapter has a dedicated webpage. Information regarding local meetings, chapter activities and initiatives, and leadership contact information are highlighted. ACC State governors and chapter coordinators are often looking for ideas to improve member engagement and are accessible via email. Though we pride ourselves on our ability to "go it alone," more often than not, the smarter way is to "go it" with the right support along the way. Early career members should get involved with their state chapters as an invaluable career resource, and lend their voice to ensure that ACC appropriately represents the needs of the ACC membership.
For more information on state chapters, visit ACC.org.
This article was authored by Bina Ahmed, MD, FACC, an interventional cardiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.