Where Do You See Yourself in the Next 10 Years?

November 16, 2016 | Sahil Khera, MD
Career Development

A Graduating Fellow's Perspective on Cardiology Fellowship Interview Process

Cardiology remains one of the most sought after specialties in medicine – fiercely competitive, gratifying and extremely demanding. With rapid advancements in device technology, pharmaceutical therapies, imaging modalities and procedural competencies we have more subspecialties than any other field in medicine to choose from. This match cycle, I was asked by my program director to be a part of the interviewing faculty and be actively involved in the selection process. There is no better forum to share my humbling experience of serving on the other side of the table.

I found myself asking the most common question – where do see yourself 10 years from now? The responses were as complicated as the question itself – interventional or electrophysiology (undecided, but leaning towards a procedural specialty), interventional or advanced heart failure/cardiac critical care, imaging versus advanced heart failure, private practice general cardiology or imaging, truly "undecided" and will explore. A very small fraction knew exactly what they were interested in at the time of interview process. Not all of us are fortunate enough to decide beforehand what we intend to do 10 years from now. Couple this uncertainty to the timeline for sub-specialty fellowship applications in the early half of second-year fellowship training and an already challenging first-year of training becomes even more arduous.

Interview applicants come from diverse backgrounds and training programs, some without any formal cardiology experience at their own hospitals. In order to be better prepared for the first year of training, I would recommend the following – explore, ask and decide.

Explore – Schedule electives and away rotations for the career/subspecialty you might be interested in, reach out to faculty mentors and practicing physicians during your residency training, observe procedures and imaging modalities, if available on site, and talk to senior fellows about their experiences and future goals.

Ask – One of the most important features of the interview process. This is the goodness of fit test. Talk to the faculty and fellows; ask questions about procedure volumes, imaging experience, outpatient ambulatory experiences, research opportunities and in-house heart failure and transplant exposure. Ask any question that you may feel is important to your future goals.

Decide early – Give yourself from three months before starting fellowship to after the first six months of fellowship to decide on you career path. If you are conflicted between two subspecialty tracks, it is often helpful to schedule electives early on by informing program leadership soon after you match. This will save important time to consolidate early, learn about and pursue your decided career track.

As general advice for interviews, prepare well and always ask questions. Assess the fellow satisfaction and attending commitment towards fellows' education. In the end, choose your rank order list wisely, making sure that the program goals align with your career and personal goals. Medicine is a commitment to lifelong learning and every milestone is equally important. All the best!

This article is authored by Sahil Khera, MD, a Fellow in Training (FIT) at New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York, a member of ACC's Curriculum Design Committee, and part of the FITs on the Go video blog.

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