Learning From Experience: Advice From a Prominent Italian Cardiologist

February 11, 2016 | Monica Verdoia, MD

“Having a good mentor” is probably one of main goals for young cardiologists, according to Professor Ciro Indolfi, MD, a full professor at Università della Magna Graecia (UMG),in Catanzaro, Italy, where he is also chief of the Cardiology Board and Interventional Cardiology Unit. As an interventionalist, he has served as the president of the Italian Society of Invasive Cardiology (GISE) and he currently heads the Regional Centre of Excellence for the Endovascular Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease at the Campus Germaneto, UMG. He has also been awarded the title of Officer of the Italian Republic by the president of Italy. Indolfi has dedicated his career to academia, with particular focus on promoting the education of young cardiologists at a national and international level.

“I became interested in cardiology when I was student at the school of medicine. At that time I met a professor of cardiology that inspired me,” he says. “I was also lucky enough to have two exceptional mentors: the first one was Massimo Chiariello, MD, professor of cardiology at the University Federico II of Naples, that pushed me toward interventional cardiology; and the second was John Ross Jr., MD, MACC, at the University of California, La Jolla (USA) who taught me an important concept: scientific integrity”. 

“It is important,” Indolfi adds, “that the next generation of cardiologists should first select a good mentor. But they should also remember that with a strong vision of their career, anything should be possible to accomplish. Goal-setting techniques should then be to have success in cardiology. By setting clearly defined goals,  young fellows can measure their progress and continuously motivate themselves to progress toward the vision they have for their ideal work life and targets.”

FIT International HubIndeed, experience abroad can be useful in order to get in touch with different organizations and acquire new skills. Therefore, national and international societies should promote such opportunities for young fellows and work together to define educational standards. In this perspective, the role of ACC is of pivotal importance, according to Indolfi, in order to increase t international cooperation and to merge different experiences. In fact, he says, “based on my previous experience in the U.S., there are still differences between the U.S. and Europe in terms of clinical management, standards of care, intervention reproducibility and clinical outcomes. Therefore, a useful cooperation between the ACC and the European Society of Cardiology could be achieved first at the university level with exchange programs and, then, with the scientific societies organizing webinars, websites and meetings.”

From his U.S. experience, Indolfi says he brought back “the perfect organization and the process of implementing and developing technical standards to maximize compatibility, interoperability, safety, ability of replication, and finally quality. In addition, the meritocracy and respect for the rules,” factors that, he believes should be improved in Italy.

Nevertheless, the cardiology in Italy thrives on its creativity.  “Cardiology practice in Italy,” he says, “is generally of a top quality. The advantage, which unfortunately sometimes is a disadvantage, of Italian cardiologists is the use of a creative imagination in the daily practice, particularly in the interventional cardiology”. An international fellow might appreciate “the opportunity to learn the clinical cardiology and to be part of an interventional team working with high quality standards in a friendly environment”.

However, in the last few years, where technological evolution rules, Indolfi warns that young cardiologists interested in interventional cardiology only after learning non-invasive cardiology, should first familiarize themselves with the clinical profile and management of patients, in order not to be overwhelmed by innovations.

Looking toward the future, he says that “new growth opportunities come from providing new products, drugs and devices derived from technological breakthroughs combined with and driven by creativity, flair and talent, or, in other words, from innovation in its broadest sense.” He is deeply convinced of the importance of research and basic sciences, an importance that, in Italy “is still underscored, but the real innovation in Italy will be not to implant a stent or a valve, but to develop and discover diagnostic and therapeutic strategies that are really new and innovative.”

This article was authored by Monica Verdoia, MD, a fellow in training (FIT) at the Università del Piemonte Orientale, in Novara, Italy.