Conversations With Cardiologists: Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, MACC

November 16, 2016 | Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, MACC

In an interview with Akhil Narang, MD, chair of the FIT Section, and an FIT at the University of Chicago, and Hena Patel, MD, an FIT at Rush University, Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, MACC, immediate past-president of the ACC and chief of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center, discusses his involvement in the ACC, career challenges and accomplishments, and his advice for FITs.

As the immediate past-president of the ACC, can you tell us how you became involved with the ACC? What advice do you have for FITs who are interested in becoming active within the ACC?
My first involvement with the ACC was at the state chapter level. There are numerous opportunities to participate and to serve, and this serves as a training ground for work at the national level. For example, I started a fellow's abstract competition for the Illinois Chapter with small cash awards for the winners. The most important advice is to get involved, network with other members and stay connected.

What are the biggest challenges facing cardiologists in the next 10 years?
This would likely be the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) – a total change in emphasis from volume to value for payment, and episodes of care payments that will require careful deconstruction of many of our current thoughts on cardiac evaluation.

Do you think the existing workforce is able to handle the growing burden of cardiovascular disease?
Cardiovascular mortality did not decline last year, for the first time since the 1970s. This is thought to reflect our worsening obesity and diabetes epidemics. So let's restate the question: do we need more disease management, or more emphasis on prevention?

Given your experience in multimodality imaging, what advice would you give to FITs? Is it better to practice one or two modalities or train in three or four imaging modalities?
If the opportunity to train in all modalities is available, I would recommend going for it. However, this may not be feasible in all training programs or suitable for all trainees. As payment is compressed, deployment of the fastest and least expensive modalities, such as echocardiography and cardiac CT, may float to the center of our noninvasive approaches.

In the next decade, how do you envision advanced imaging training evolving?
As noted above, payment issues will continue to influence training. We will need to focus on appropriate use and the burgeoning demand that not only a given treatment, but indeed a given diagnostic test, render improved clinical outcomes. This is a high bar, but it can be met when the right patient is imaged at the right time for the right reason.

You have mentored and helped launch the careers of numerous successful cardiologists. What advice can you give to FITs looking for a mentor?
We have a fabulous mentoring program at the ACC – look to our current leaders and particularly our past presidents, who have been uniformly very successful in their fields, to mentor clinical, research, teaching and leadership skills.

What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Outside of raising my four children (marine officer, psychiatrist, neurosurgeon and pathologist), I would list being president of the ACC and chief of cardiology at Rush University as co-pinnacles. With the ACC, I was able to bring more focus to nutrition, lifestyle and prevention. At Rush, we have a cardiology family where kindness and collaboration make coming to work on our mission to help our community and mankind through clinical excellence, teaching and research.

What do you enjoy doing outside of cardiology?
Outside of cardiology, I like to think I'm still a gospel singer and an avid tennis player, coach and enthusiast. It is certainly harder to cover the court without training six hours per day, but hoping to get back to it someday.