Collaborating Among Young Cardiovascular Clinicians

March 8, 2016 | 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.

International outreach and collaboration among fellows, cardiologists, and training centers represent long-term goals that scientific societies are pursuing. The ACC and the European Society of Cardiology (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. This article will provide perspectives of how FITs are engaged in other societies 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 while ESC has a large number of early career sections to help fellows in the first phases of their professional growth.

Exploring and understanding background, principles and viewpoints of different young fellows 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 a young cardiovascular community?

A: I was named co-chair of the “New Initiatives for Young Interventionalists (NIFYI)”, a European FIT-like community, in 2011. 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. In 2013, 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 and principles that move your work?

A: The principal aim 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 strive 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 NIFYI group is therefore based on a “by the young for the young” philosophy.

Q: Did you find similarities with the ACC FIT section and programs?

A: I found several points and initiatives that are similar to ACC’s FIT programs. These points can be summarized into active involvement from FITs, a plethora of opportunities offered for research and professional growth. Efforts by the ACC and ESC represent an outstanding model for the development of new young international communities. Several points, including international outreach, opportunities for research, mentoring-mentees projects represent interesting aspects and high-quality projects to be followed  in different communities.

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

A: There are different ways to identify fellows’ and young cardiologists’ needs. In 2013 a web-survey was conducted among young users of the ESC website interested in interventional cardiology. 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, 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 and different initiatives were designed to answer fellows’ needs accordingly . Moreover, a LinkedIn group was created to promote a direct exchange in opinions, future initiatives and events within the community.

Q: What about the ideal 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. We created different task forces to equally distribute and optimally track community activities. Renewal is based on the principle that initiatives for young fellows should be periodically supported by new voices who can bring their enthusiasm and energy in the interest of the community. In practice, every two years some experienced members leave the board giving space to new members; after two years, the new members have become “experienced,” 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. Similarly to  FIT initiatives within the ACC, the European community attempts to harmonize and give the highest level of quality to both of these aspects. Courses are designed to increase the quality of theoretical knowledge among fellows from different countries, while we also attempt 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 cardiologist communities? Is time to share initiatives?

A: I see an optimistic future for young communities. In my opinion, two paths should be followed in the next future: international outreach and collaboration. We are going to create “ambassadors” to prompt and facilitate the knowledge of our young cardiologist community in different countries.. We are also conducting shared initiatives with other young communities. 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.

Q:  In practice, how do you recommend that shared programs begin with ACC’s FIT community?

A: ACC’s FITs are welcome to attend the next European Congresses. Shared sessions could be arranged to exchange interests and opportunities for professional growth. This could represent the first step in the development and future consolidation of an “International Heart Team approach”. Moreover, shared initiatives linking research opportunities and theoretical knowledge could be jointly developed. Fellows represent the future of professional and human growth inside our communities. This is a huge responsibility for us. Sharing and linking international efforts to help fellows’ growth are therefore largely welcome.

For more information on ACC’s International Programs,including resources and international chapters, visit

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.