Feature | Becoming an FACC – Thoughts From an Early Career Physician

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Images and visual art have fascinated me since childhood. After I became a cardiologist, it was natural for me to be drawn to the specialty of cardiovascular imaging.

Fortunately, I was accepted into the MD-PhD program at Keio University School of Medicine, one of the top medical schools in Japan, which enabled me to lay a deeper foundation for my research work.

Research initially brought me to the U.S., as I came here to work on my PhD thesis in cardiac ultrasound. Through this early work in the U.S., I was introduced to translational research.

The bridge between biomedical engineering and clinical cardiology was of great interest to me.

After I was awarded my PhD, I decided to stay in America and go through post-graduate medical education training again. After my internal medicine residency, followed by cardiology fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, I went to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for further training in noninvasive cardiovascular imaging.

This two-year advanced imaging fellowship was focused on cardiac MRI. During the fellowship, I was fortunate to have the program support me in additional studies at the Harvard School of Public Health, where I obtained my Master's degree in public health.

I am now employed as a staff clinician at the advanced cardiovascular laboratory of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), engaging in both clinical and research work.

At NIH, I work on research that involves both echocardiogram and cardiac MRI using strain analysis and tissue characterization.

The cardiac/cardiovascular MRI lab at NHLBI in NIH is well established. It is directed by Andrew E. Arai, MD, past president and 2018 Gold Medal Awardee of the Society of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance.

Each year, we have more than a thousand cases on a referral basis, scanning with two MRI scanners (1.5T and 3.0T). We see a wide variety of cases that include unusual and rare pathologies, as per the mission of NIH.

We also have cardiac/cardiovascular imaging fellows at our lab, the majority being cardiologists. Furthermore, we have two experienced technologists who are meticulous in obtaining images of great quality.

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It is a stimulating environment and I greatly enjoy working with the entire team and supporting staff. One of the best aspects of the job is that we share our knowledge and learn from each other.

It is a great honor to have recently become a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) as recognition by colleagues of my ongoing work. The ACC is not only leading our clinical research and practice on up-to-date guidelines, but is also the biggest resource of networking and mentee/mentor interaction.

I have attended a number of events for ACC Fellow in Training (FIT) members at ACC conferences and at Heart House, and have had opportunities to talk with various world leaders in cardiovascular disease. I was impressed by how much they are willing to share their professional histories with FIT members and guide us in building our own careers.

As an FACC, I would like to both help other FIT members and develop my own path. Networking is a key to making progress in clinical science. Contributing the growth of our specialty is important and I hope to be increasingly active in the College for years to come.

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This article was authored by Kana Fujikura, MD, PhD, MPH, FACC, staff clinician in the Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Keywords: Clinician Well-Being; Work Life Balance; Burnout;