Conversations With Cardiologists: Akshay Khandelwal, MD, FACC

June 21, 2017 | Akshay Khandelwal, MD, FACC

'Conversations With Cardiologists' highlights prominent cardiologists throughout the country and shares their invaluable insight on cardiology and sage advice for Fellows in Training (FITs). In a recent interview with Poonam Velagapudi, MD, MS, Akshay Khandelwal, MD, FACC, governor of ACC's Michigan Chapter, shares advice for graduating FITs.

What are some challenges graduating FITs may face as they go into practice? How can they be prepared?
AK: I think there are two primary challenges. First, FITs may be overwhelmed with the burden of making decisions independently. While this may be the case, FITs would be well served to maintain faith in their training, to utilize ACC's superb portfolio of clinical decision-making resources and to stay current with continuing education using online resources and by attending state/regional/national cardiology conferences. Secondly, FITs may find themselves in unfamiliar territory with the burdens of being clinically, academically and/or financially productive. A mentor within your new practice can be a real lifeline helping you tackle these new challenges. I am hopeful that fellowship training programs will continue to develop curricula designed to meet this demand head-on.

Can you tell us about Maintenance of Certification (MOC) and recertification after training is complete?
AK: MOC and recertification is a moving target, and the ACC is leading the way to reform some of the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM's) requirements to ensure that it meets the needs of the professional, the patient and the public. At this stage in your career, I would encourage you to enroll with the ABIM's MOC program and to remember that chapter/regional and national ACC meetings, along with the SAP products (ACCSAP, CathSAP, EchoSAP, etc.) are easy ways to accumulate Continuing Medical Education and MOC credit. ACC will continue to update its membership on changes to the 10-year recertification exam.

What are some Do's and Don't's for graduating FITs once in practice?
AK: Don't hesitate to contact your fellowship program mentors! We're really lifelong mentors and would be glad to take an email question or a call and provide continual guidance. Plus, it's really a two-way street – believe it or not, we learn much from our former fellows. At the same time, do rely on your new partners and colleagues who will be an invaluable resource to helping you navigate your nascent career and practice.

How can graduating FITs – soon to be early career cardiologists – remain involved with the ACC? What are state chapters doing to keep early career cardiologists involved?
AK: Shortly, FITs should be receiving a letter from their current state governor, instructing them how to apply to become a Fellow of the ACC (FACC) and giving them guidance on establishing new roots should they be moving to a different state. Find out more about what your state's ACC chapter is doing by contacting your governor or visiting the chapter website. Don't forget – many of us received our initiation into the ACC at the chapter level. Additionally, while I think it is important for new practitioners to establish themselves and refine their clinical skills for the first six – 12 months, the ACC wants to engage the newest generation of cardiologists, and has many opportunities for early career cardiologists to participate once you are comfortable in your new practice.

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