Imaging | Thuy Nguyen, MD


1. Please describe your educational and training background.

Medical School: Georgetown University School of Medicine
Residency: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center - Internal Medicine
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center/Case Western - Cardiology Fellowship
University of California San Francisco - Advanced Echo Fellowship
University of California San Francisco - Multimodality Cardiac Imaging Fellowship

2. What are your future career plans and/or goals?

I ultimately hope to aid a group in developing and running a cardiac imaging lab. While we get exposure to multiple imaging modalities in training, most imagers eventually find a niche in the field. However, each imaging modality delivers a unique set of strengths and weaknesses in the assessment of cardiac disease states. Thus, developing a cardiac imaging lab with imaging specialists across the field is crucial to enhance our patients' care. Moreover, this diversity spurs continued education, which is particularly important in the imaging field where new technology and programs are constantly being developed.

Beyond this, I also hope to take part in community/international outreach programs. Involvement in societies (ACC, ASE, SCMR, etc.) is a great way to have exposure to these opportunities.

3. Please describe a typical day in your cardiology subspecialty.

Days in multimodality imaging can actually be quite varied. Typically, I spend about three days per week reading cardiac MRIs, CTs, and nuclear medicine scans. I spend a day in the echocardiography lab usually performing transesophageal echocardiograms during structural procedures. I take part in half a day of subspecialty clinic per week in which I am able to maintain more dedicated time with patients. Depending on the day, I break away from this schedule to teach residents/fellows, do research, and work on administrative matters.

4. What is the most challenging aspect of your career path?

Cardiac imaging is a budding subspecialty with many internal paths to follow. During training, it is easy to have one's attention pulled in many directions at the same time. One of the most challenging things to accomplish is to stay focused on the day-to-day tasks while also carving out a long-term career path to follow.

5. How did you identify your mentor(s) and develop a successful mentor/mentee relationship?

I have been fortunate to meet some really amazing mentors at each stage of training. I entered internal medicine fairly opened-minded about future career choices. It was during a cardiology rotation at the VA that I met a cardiologist who really piqued my interest in the field and eventually helped guide me further into my training goals. I still call him today when I need advice and to get his opinion on career decisions. The same holds true for mentors whom I met during my general cardiology and imaging fellowships. I think one of the key features about all of my mentors is that they were physicians whom I admired both professionally and personally. They were open about the struggles they faced on their path and how they went about overcoming obstacles themselves.

6. What advice would you give residents interested in pursuing cardiology?

Cardiology is a rewarding specialty to pursue with many avenues to follow in your career goals. Cardiology practice encompasses a wide variety of intensity settings from outpatient preventative care to specialty intensive care units. There are plenty of opportunities to take part in direct patient care, procedural activities, research, and/or community outreach depending on one's preferences. This can at times be daunting to new trainees as it seems like the amount there is to learn is unachievable. However, it is important to take each challenge as a learning opportunity. No one is an expert in every sub-field of cardiology. As you go through training, you will discover where your interests lie and this will help guide you in your career choice.

7. What advice do you have for women and/or underrepresented populations in medicine who are interested in pursuing cardiology?

As an immigrant and a woman, I find cardiology to be an excellent choice as a career path. I truly think diversity amongst cardiology specialists enhances patient care. It also brings different perspectives to the field that help to move the practice forward in an equitable and efficient manner.