Conversations With Cardiologists: Sanjay Gandhi, MBBS, MBA, FACC

Sanjay Gandhi, MBBS, MBA, FACC, is the past president of the ACC Ohio Chapter. This piece focuses on his path of engagement with the ACC, as well as the unique efforts of the Ohio Chapter to benefit FITs.

How did you first become involved with the ACC?

Cardiology Magazine ImageThe ACC Ohio Chapter FITs gathered at one of the past chapter annual meetings. More than 50 FITs presented posters at the annual meeting. Click the image above for a larger view.

I became a fellow of the ACC in 2005 a year after finishing my fellowship. While initially I was only peripherally involved, I became more engaged with the Ohio Chapter starting in 2010. I attended legislative conferences in Columbus, OH and Washington, DC, and it was very powerful. I began to see the value in advocacy for our cardiologists and physicians at large. I volunteered and was elected to be on the Ohio Chapter board. This gave me an opportunity to network with other cardiologists and understand the challenges being faced or solved by different practices across the state. I also value the educational mission of the ACC and co-chaired our chapter annual meetings. Finally, I served as the governor for the chapter and am currently the immediate past president of the chapter. One of the things that I learned from my experience is that the more I was engaged with ACC, the more I felt connected with its mission. One of the best ways to engage with ACC is through its state chapters.

Tell us about some of the initiatives you've started for FITs and the inspiration behind it.

Cardiology Magazine ImageZarina Sharalaya, MD, presents her poster at one of the past in-person ACC Ohio Chapter annual meetings. Click the image above for a larger view.

FITs are a crucial part of the ACC and future of our profession. We undertook a strategic plan to identify several key priorities for the state chapter, of which FIT engagement and transition of FIT to FACC were two of our highest priorities. We leaned on our FIT council co-chairs and board members to innovate some unique ideas in achieving these goals.

Some fantastic ideas that emerged were:

  1. FIT Development Series: Fellowship Road Map. The goal of this series was to educate FITs on how to maximize fellowship time, to work towards accomplishing their career goals and to highlight the important considerations of finding a job. Important considerations for the job search, such as pros and cons of academic vs. private practice, negotiating job contracts, financial planning, the path to FACC, and prerequisites for board exams, were discussed.
  2. Fellows Bootcamp! This course was a hybrid of hands-on simulation and panel-based workshops geared towards incoming general cardiology fellows to help prepare them for cardiology fellowship with a special focus on on-call scenarios. Highlights of this initiative included:
  3. FIT council members and early career faculty facilitated the sessions and educated incoming fellows
  4. A focus on early fellowship "on call" issues, relevant especially to first-year fellows
  5. Engagement from program directors
  6. Early engagement of incoming fellows with ACC events
  7. An opportunity to discuss not only education, but also how to balance clinical responsibilities and wellness
  8. FIT case and research of the month. We have always had FIT poster competitions, previously oral, now virtual. By highlighting these posters on our website as a "case of the month," we were able to give fellows visibility for their work during the pandemic.
  9. FIT to FACC letter. The application for FACC requires a second letter from an FACC outside your program. Our leadership team (governor) provides letters to fellows for their applications for FACC, smoothing the transition to their next phase.

Do you have any members who were key in starting the FIT initiatives?

I would like to give a lot of credit to our current FIT council chairs, Zarina Sharalaya, MD, and Jeremy Slivnick, MD, who have done a phenomenal job advocating for the FITs and leading the FIT council and its efforts. The bootcamp idea and initiation are credited to Meera Kondapaneni, MBBS, FACC, (program director at MetroHealth, Case Western Reserve University) and Saima Karim, DO, FACC, (an electrophysiologist at Metrohealth as well). However, kudos to the program directors across the state in making it successful. Finally, none of these would have worked without Gwen Goldfarb, our chapter executive, who was instrumental in flawless execution of these programs.

What advice do you have for ACC FIT or Early Career members who want to be involved with the ACC?

Engage through your state chapters! Engage early, engage often and get involved with an effort that you are passionate about.

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Tripti Gupta, MD

This article was co-authored by Tripti Gupta, MD, cardiology fellow in training at Ochsner Clinical Foundation Twitter: @T_GuptaMD

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