Advice For Young Cardiologists in Pursuit of Excellence

December 20, 2016 | Carlos Barrero, MD, FACC

Ignacio M. Seropian, MD, a Fellow in Training (FIT) in interventional cardiology at Hospital Italiano in Buenos Aires City, Argentina, provides an excellent perspective from a young cardiologist on the difficulties encountered when trying to perform research activities during the cardiology training program, in a recent article published in the FIT Information Hub

As Dr. Seropian pointed out, there are three possible ways in Argentina to get a cardiology degree. In the first two mentioned: university cardiology course and “concurrence” or part-time fellowship, clinical research is not included in the program and the possibility of doing research depends mainly on the centers where the FITs are allocated. Bibliographic research in the form of a review or monograph on a selected topic is mandatory in certain cases but not in all.

With regard to the best way of training in cardiology in Argentina and probably elsewhere, the residency or full-time fellowship includes clinical research in the majority of cases mainly in training programs university linked. In these cases, during the first two years of training, research is practically impossible due to the intensive training activities with patients; here learning  basic treatment algorithms and procedure skills is reinforced. Thus, research is deferred for the last two years of training. Many of these programs contemplate the presentation of a written review or monograph during the third year of training, which is mandatory in many centers. Also, during the last year of training an original research work has to be carried out by FITs and presented in a recognized cardiology meeting whether in Argentina or abroad.

But when it comes to basic science research, things are different. In Argentina, basic and clinical research are rather separate areas with very little or no contact. Moreover, basic science research is limited to selected centers and even fewer with cardiology training programs. In addition, as these programs are mainly focused on clinical cardiology, the possibility of doing basic science research for trainees in cardiology becomes difficult in the majority of centers.

Translational research is a new developing area in Argentina; though the number of centers working on this field is scarce, the number is increasing with many projects in progress at the moment. Thus, this thriving area where basic and clinical investigators can work together with a common objective will facilitate that young cardiologists have the possibility of engaging in basic research.

Cardiology (including interventional cardiology) is time consuming and the time needed for treating patients is a major barrier for those that have the inclination for basic research which is also time consuming and calls for a great dedication. That is the reason why sometimes you have to make up your mind whether to direct your energy to clinical cardiology or research for the development of your professional career. An adequate balance for working on both fields is possible but not always feasible. But that is another story!

What is important here, is that no matter what the difficulties may be (lack of time, dedicated centers, etc.), the will and determination of a young trainee overcomes every difficulty and can make things happen, proof of which is Dr. Seropian’s personal experience presented here which is, in my opinion, a most valuable one for young cardiologists in pursuit of excellence.

This article was authored by Carlos Barrero, MD, FACC, immediate past governor of ACC’s Argentina Chapter.

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