ACC Early Career Professionals Section: When Home Really Feels Like Home

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With so many things competing for an Early Career Professional's time, the ACC has not always been a top priority for some. Be it completing board exams, reading to stay current, starting a new job, starting a family and taking care of kids, or of course, maintaining an active practice or research, time is in short supply for Early Career Professionals. It is hard to imagine that 10 years ago, the ACC did not have an official home for these members. There were always places to get involved and be called upon to write, teach or volunteer, but no clear "home." As such, Early Career Professionals were not nearly as engaged in the College as they are now. I am pleased to say that the ACC Early Career Professionals Section has now transformed the College in many fundamental ways.

Firstly, those of us in our early careers (first 10 years out from training) have a well-developed Section complete with programs, activities and growth opportunities. These developments make it a natural place to connect with others in our same demographics and career stages. Further, the very notion of having an Early Career Professional member a part of guidelines, writing groups, teaching sessions, advocacy efforts and leadership is now commonplace. In fact, virtually every committee and major paper published has at least one if not more Early Career Professional members.

Most importantly, the quality of Early Career Professionals has been clearly demonstrated, and because of bigger bandwidth and energy for projects along with great training, the Early Career Professional demographic is highly sought. While experience may not yet be in place, this is more than made up for by energy, time and enthusiasm, with almost always an amazing end product. For example, the growth of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology Fellows in Training/Early Career Page has been instrumental in highlighting key concerns, issues and ideas for those in their early career.

Early career programming at the annual ACC Scientific Sessions has been instrumental in the growth of early career engagement. With dedicated programming, networking opportunities and a lounge stuffed with high-quality activities such as small groups with icons of cardiology, it is no wonder Early Career Professionals are more engaged than ever!

Mentorship, funding opportunities, writing opportunities and more have made all the needed resources for one's complete professional home readily available to Early Career Professionals. Each year, due to amazing leadership from the ACC Early Career Professional Section Council and it's highly-accomplished chairs, early career projects have been repeatedly recognized to add incredible member value.

In all, none of this could be possible without the support of an incredible ACC staff, leadership who saw the value in Early Career Professionals and resources mobilized to make all of this happen.

There really is no place like home, and as an Early Career Professional, this Section has made it "home sweet home."

This article was authored by Andrew M. Freeman MD, FACC, associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, CO, and founding chair of the ACC Early Career Professionals Section.