Collaborating Among Young Cardiovascular Clinicians

Dec 8, 2015 | Sergio Buccheri, MD

In recent years, scientific societies in the cardiovascular field have created specific groups for fellows and young specialists. This represents an amazing effort toward young fellows’ active involvement and an important opportunity in career development for young cardiologists. The FIT Section of the ACC is one of the best examples of how initiatives and support for fellows can provide an extremely valuable opportunity to succeed in their careers. The growing number of young health care providers outside the U.S. also reflects shared needs by young cardiologists in a global scenario. Internationalization and collaboration among fellows, cardiologists, and training centers represent long-term goals that scientific societies are pursuing. ACC and ESC are the largest scientific communities prompting such programs at an international level. The development of an “International Heart Team approach” will be useful to facilitate the exchange of clinical experience, knowledge and methods of training [1].

Outside of the U.S., the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) has appointed a program for young members in training (CCS Trainee Committee) to provide services and help in the first phases of the cardiovascular career. The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has the largest number of FITs and early career professionals within any society. The ESC is indeed the fulcrum of different health care providers, covering all the spectrum of subspecialties in the cardiovascular field. The ESC could be seen as the trunk supporting its branch communities and different groups of fellows and young cardiologists have been created within the ESC. Exploring and understanding background, principles and viewpoints of such groups is an added value to FITs’ community growth and a first attempt to link young health care providers at an international level. Accordingly, an interview was conducted with Professor Davide Capodanno, MD, chair of the New Initiatives for Young Interventionalists Committee within the European Association of Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (EAPCI).

Q: How did you become the chair of the Young Initiatives for Interventionalists of the EAPCI and leader of the Young EAPCI initiative?

A: I was named co-chair of the New Initiatives for Young Interventionalists (NIFYI) in 2011 under the EAPCI presidency of Jean M. Fajadet, MD. Selection was primarily based on the willingness to work for a new initiative created to offer new opportunities for professional and educational growth of fellows and young interventionalists. In 2013, under the presidency of Professor Stephan Windecker, MD, I was honored to be named Chair of the section and this aimed to give continuity to the leadership of the group.

Q: Can you explain the spirit behind the development of the group?

A: The principal aim of the NIFYI is to identify unmet needs of fellows and young specialists, and try to fill these gaps with adequate programs and initiatives to support professional growth. We also look at creating a network between fellows and older specialists to exchange ideas, experiences, opinions and opportunities for a successful career. We aimed to create a dynamic society with a cross-sectional design and we tried to implement a bottom-up listening of needs and proposals rather than a top-down imposition of priorities and programs. The birth and development of the group is therefore based on a “by the young for the young” philosophy.

Q: You look at the unmet needs of fellows and young specialists but, in practice, how do you hear their needs?

A: There are different ways to identify fellows’ and young cardiologists’ needs. In 2013, under the initiative of the NIFYI committee, a web-survey was conducted among young users of the ESC website interested in interventional cardiology [2]. A questionnaire was emailed with questions regarding training, education, networking and communication, research and professional issues. Several key factors and needs were identified within the survey (e.g., difficulties in finding an appropriate fellowship program, the need for a fellows’ course at the European level, a large interest in the development of a web-based learning tool, difficulties in finding a mentor and setting up a program for research). Needs highlighted by the survey were discussed during the second EAPCI Summit, organized by the EAPCI Board in collaboration with the NIFYI committee, and different initiatives were designed to answer fellows’ needs (European Fellows Course, ESC e-learning platform, CathGo platform to find hosts centers with adequate facilities for research and practice, EAPCI grants) [3]. Moreover, a Linkedin group (EAPCI Young) was created to promote a direct exchange in opinions, future initiatives and events within the community.

Q: What about the structure and principles in directing a young community?

A: I believe that leadership within a young community should be based upon two key principles: collaboration and renewal. The NIFYI has a board with 10 members and we created five task forces (Fellows Course, Web and Communication, Career orientation, Research and Community) to equally distribute and optimally track community activities. Renewal is based on the principle that initiatives for young interventionalists should be periodically supported by new voices, who can bring their enthusiasm and energy in the interest of the community. In my vision, every two years some old members leave the board giving space to new members; after two years, the new members have become old and can offer their body of experience, also ensuring continuity, to additional new members.

Q: In your opinion, what is the ideal program for a fellow? Clinical practice, research or both?

A: In my opinion, every fellow has to customize his program on personal interests and individual goals. A combination of research and clinical practice is an interesting opportunity within a fellowship program. In Europe, the NIFYI committee attempts to harmonize and give the highest level of quality to both of these aspects. The Fellows Course is designed to increase the quality of theoretical knowledge among fellows from different countries, while the CathGo platform attempts to help fellows looking at the development of practical skills by matching fellows’ requirements to adequate training centers.

Q: What about the future of young communities? Is time to share initiatives?

A: I see a sparkling future for young communities. In my opinion, two paths should be followed in the next future: internationalization and collaboration. We are going to create “ambassadors” to prompt and facilitate the knowledge of our community in different countries. Such an initiative is directed toward internationalization of the NIFYI. We are also conducting shared initiatives with other young communities. Recently, a shared session between European young FITs and early career professionals was held during the 2015 ESC Congress, called “Recent Advances in Cardiology: What a Busy Cardiologist Needs to Know”. Collaboration among young health care providers has proven to be successful. This aspect, in my opinion, is crucial for future development of young communities. The time for collaboration has come.

This article was authored by Sergio Buccheri, MD, a fellow in training (FIT) at Ferrarotto Hospital in the department of cardiology at the University of Catania in Italy.


  1. Fontes-Carvalho R, Vidal-Perez R, Pöss J. The European Society of Cardiology's Cardiologists of Tomorrow: The Evolving "Heart Team" Opens International Borders. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Jun 16;65(23):2566-9.
  2. Ducrocq G, Capodanno D, Windecker S, Fajadet J. Unmet needs of young interventional cardiologists: the EAPCI Young survey. EuroIntervention. 2013 Dec;9(8):903-8.
  3. Capodanno D, Ducrocq G, Toth G et al. Unmet needs of young interventional cardiologists: proceedings from the 2nd summit of the European association of percutaneous cardiovascular interventions. EuroIntervention. 2014 May;10(1):47-9.