Conversations With Cardiologists: Vanessa Blumer, MD
Vanessa Blumer, MD, is the ACC North Carolina Chapter's FIT liaison. I spoke with her about her path to engagement with the College, as well as her chapter's efforts to support FITs.
How did you become involved with the ACC?
I have been peripherally involved with the ACC since my internal medicine residency years — I never missed a conference! This allowed me to value the educational mission of the ACC very early in my clinical training.
While in fellowship, I served on the ACC's 70th Annual Scientific Session Program Committee. Then, when my program director at Duke mentioned there could be a possibility to serve as the FIT Liaison for the North Carolina Chapter, I didn't hesitate to apply and was thrilled when I was selected. Working with the chapter has been an extraordinary experience; in addition to personal and professional growth, it has given me the privilege to work with exceptional people across the state.
Tell us about some of the initiatives you've started for FITs and the inspiration behind them.
Our chapter truly prioritizes initiatives that promote FIT education, professional development, and mentorship opportunities. We have organized several educational programs for FITs and, given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, opted for a virtual platform. We also partnered with Zoll Medical to organize the first ACC North Carolina/South Carolina Chapters "Heart Failure Educational Program" earlier this academic year, which we opened to all FITs nationwide. The lecturers were exceptional and included nationally renowned #HeartFunctionNotFailure specialists, among them Robert Mentz, MD, FACC; Anu Lala, MD, FACC; Michelle Kittleson, MD, FACC; Ryan Tedford, MD, FACC; and Navin Kapur, MD. Additionally, our chapter has partnered with the ACC Chilean Chapter to create several educational webinars. These have been great opportunities for transatlantic collaboration.
The NC/SC Chapters also held an in-person annual joint meeting in Asheville, for which scholarships were provided to finance FITs attending the conference. During a dedicated FIT session, topics were geared towards professional development and the transition to early career, such as CV writing, financial management, signing the right contract, and a panel discussion to help choose the right clinical practice (private vs academic vs "privademic").
As we move forward, we are reviving the Women in Cardiology (WIC) efforts in our chapter. We are planning our first session to be a virtual gathering on March 16, and our first invited lecturer is Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC who will be giving a talk on mentorship, sponsorship and allyship. Gulati has recently become a personal role model, sponsor, and mentor. She is an expert in women's cardiovascular disease and is a shining example for our WIC community.
Are there any mentors who have been key in starting these initiatives?
Absolutely! I have been very fortunate to have mentors who have been key to these initiatives and have also served as an inspiration throughout my academic career. I would like to highlight Svati Shah, MD, and Nosheen Reza, MD, FACC. Dr. Shah is not only a mentor and exceptional sponsor, but also an inspiration to the WIC community and someone I personally admire. I am forever grateful for her support and guidance throughout my fellowship and hope to follow in her footsteps. Dr. Reza has also been incredibly supportive of my career and involvement with the ACC. She has been a brilliant source of advice and wisdom, and it's a privilege to count her among my mentors.
What advice do you have for FITs who want to get involved with ACC?
I recommend engaging through state chapters and/or at a national level. Through the ACC, I have gained leadership, networking and advocacy skills. More importantly, I have gained lifelong colleagues, mentors and friends.
What are your future career plans/goals?
I am currently finishing my cardiology fellowship and a one-year clinical research fellowship at Duke University Medical Center and Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI). Starting July 2020, I am thrilled to begin Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. My main research interests are clinical outcomes of acute and advanced heart failure patients, including those with cardiogenic shock and those requiring mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation, as well as health disparities and gaps in implementation in heart failure. I am passionate about the intersection between heart failure and critical care and exploring novel training pathways that consider the heart failure-cardiac critical care overlap. My ultimate goal is to pursue a career in academic cardiology.
What are the key take-home messages for FITs?
Through the ACC, there are fantastic opportunities to gain leadership, networking and advocacy skills. Blumer articulated how FITs can make an impact at the state chapter level through collaborations with experts nationally and internationally. She draws inspiration from WIC leaders in the field to learn, grow and one day be able to follow in their footsteps. As a FIT, we should not only strive to advance in clinical knowledge, but also in professional skills so we can collectively bridge gaps in health disparities and education and inspire the next generation of cardiologists.
This article was authored by Tripti Gupta, MD, a FIT at Ochsner Medical Center. Twitter: @T_GuptaMD.
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