Conversations in Cardiology: Ways to Advance in Interventional Cardiology Training For FITs

Mazen Roumia, MD, FACC, is the director of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Saint Vincent Hospital, MA and Assistant Professor of Medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School where he is also involved in clinical research. In addition to his roles as a leading physician scientist and an interventional cardiologist, he also leads the structural heart program at the Saint Vincent Hospital and is highly involved in formal research training to the fellows.

In this interview, Roumia focuses on sharing his career and training advice to fellows interested in the field of interventional cardiology.

  1. What advice would you give to fellows in the early stages of their training when considering interventional cardiology?

    Spend time in the cath lab. Invest in getting to know the staff and learn how to take care of patients before, during and after a procedure. Be a team member and help in the lab in any way you can. Make your interest in interventional cardiology known. Talk to your interventional attendings and always ask for feedback and guidance.
  2. What is the most challenging aspect of interventional cardiology that fellows should be prepared for?

    Being an interventional cardiologist comes with several challenges: high stress level, long hours, and work-life balance to name a few, but what I find most challenging is how to manage real-life expectations. We work hard to take care of sick patients in the best ways possible and with that comes huge responsibility. However, we are conditioned to expect success, and we are rarely taught how to face failure or how to reconcile our emotions after complications or bad outcomes. There will be moments when you may feel vulnerable and discouraged and that's ok. Allow yourself to reflect. Stay humble no matter how experienced you are. Always look for mentorship and learn to share your feelings with those close to you.
  3. How important is it to conduct research during fellowship?

    I highly recommend getting involved in research. Fellows who partake in research have stronger applications and are more competitive during the interview process. Research increases your chances at matching at the interventional cardiology program of your choice. In addition, having a foundation in research improves one's ability to evaluate medical evidence and apply it to clinical practice.
  4. What skills and features are required to create a strong foundation for advanced training in interventional cardiology?

    Being proficient in diagnostic cath is the foundation for training in cardiac interventions. Additionally, being a leader, staying calm under pressure, and having excellent communication skills are all important qualities for a successful interventional cardiologist.
  5. How can fellows optimally transition to interventional training while mastering all the clinical skills in their cardiology fellowship?

    Don't worry too much about the transition. Invest your time and energy in general cardiology training, as it is crucial to have a strong foundation in general cardiology before you move on to interventional training. A tip for fellows in their final year is to tag along with the interventional fellow on STEMI calls whenever possible, which can be a very valuable learning experience before interventional year.
  6. What are the top five tips you would give to fellows interested in interventional cardiology training at different stages of training?

    1. Work hard and stay focused on your goal.
    2. Seek mentorship and guidance from your interventional attendings.
    3. Build your research profile and publish.
    4. Get involved and network through ACC.
    5. Stay humble.

This interview was conducted by Pradnya Brijmohan Bhattad, MD, an FIT at Saint Vincent Hospital.

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