California ACC Chapter’s FIT Journey to Success: Part II

Welcome back to our series on ACC chapter engagement for Fellows in Training (FIT). This series, which will consist of interviews with select state chapters to glean experience and tips, is meant to encourage FITs to get involved in their state's chapter by highlighting the personal and professional benefits of doing so. This is part two of an article highlighting the California ACC FIT Team – my homebase chapter. (Read part one here.)

I sat down with Paniz Vafaei, MD, the Northern California FIT chair, to discuss the California ACC FIT Committee's recent activities. Vafaei and I have hosted several big events since we both took over as California FIT co-chairs in April 2021. The first event was "California ACC FIT For Survival," a bootcamp for first-year cardiology fellows led by me and one of our committee members, Stacy Tsai, MD. The main goal of the bootcamp was to close the knowledge gap and alleviate the associated anxiety that goes along with it.

The bootcamp consisted of 17 lectures and was implemented virtually from June to October 2021. The lectures were posted on our YouTube channel and the California ACC chapter website for future viewing. To date, the bootcamp has proven to be an enormous success. We have had more than 1,500+ views with overall positive feedback from speakers and viewers alike.

Another major event we hosted was the fall mixer and networking event, can you talk about that?

Vafaei: In light of the pandemic and lack of recent in-person national conferences resulting in a significant gap in networking opportunities, our FIT committee identified the need for a mentoring and career development event. The program was a four-day virtual event. We were fortunate enough to have a large group of 33 diverse, esteemed panelists, that graciously agreed to partake in the event.

All the sessions were moderated by Pelter and me. Sessions were recorded and made available for viewing on the California ACC chapter website. The event was extremely successful and attracted many viewers.

How many members do we have on the California ACC FIT Committee?

Vafaei: We currently have nine members (eight FITs and one IM resident) in addition to two co-chairs who are actively involved in our committee. We have five members representing Northern California and six members representing Southern California. We are extremely proud to have formed the largest FIT committee in the history of the California ACC chapter.

Can you tell us more about the future directions we have planned for 2022?

Vafaei: We hope to expand the bootcamp series to a national audience. We recently participated in a fantastic ACC-sponsored national FIT leadership event where we had the opportunity to meet and network with other ACC FIT catalysts across the country. There, we exchanged ideas and made lasting connections that we hope to grow further this year. We also hope to collaborate with other California ACC committees, including Women in Cardiology and Early Career.

What would you like FITs to know about your chapter?

Vafaei: We are an extremely active and engaged committee invested in conducting the chapter's mission of empowering our members to transform cardiovascular care. We are continuously looking to expand, improve, and foster cardiology fellows' growth and education.

Pelter: Absolutely! We also want to encourage and mentor medical students and residents to choose the field of cardiology, especially women and other underrepresented groups.

What elements can be attractive for an FIT looking to join this chapter? How has your own participation impacted your FIT career?

Vafaei: I think for me the most rewarding and exciting aspect of being the California ACC FIT Northern California co-chair is having the opportunity to work alongside so many talented and brilliant fellows who are all dedicated to ensuring we provide high quality, valuable resources to our colleagues and fellows in training. Another extremely exciting aspect of my work is the opportunity to meet amazing mentors, foster long lasting relationships, and benefit from the unwavering support of our California ACC leadership.

Pelter: As a new FIT, my schedule was full and overflowing. Yet, when I started to collaborate with the chapter, I found a new perspective of cardiology that was fundamental for my professional growth and development; the importance and the impact of being a catalyst. It opened a wide spectrum of learning as I coordinated lectures and sat through conferences and web events. It has personally created a great resource for myself, as I grew from a first-year cardiology fellow and has provided me with dedicated and gifted mentors who taught me leadership skills. I achieved great networking that connected me and my institution with the other programs across California. It most certainly has made a profound impact on me.

Be the catalyst for change in your state chapter – it is time worth investing!



This article was authored by Megan Pelter, MD, an FIT at Scripps Clinic and Southern California ACC FIT chair. Twitter: @MeganPelter.

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