Interventional | Amy Mertens, DO


1. Please describe your educational and training background.

Medical School: Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Residency: Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI
Fellowship(s): General Cardiology, Interventional Cardiology, and Peripheral/CHIP Advanced Interventional Cardiology- Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI

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

I will be pursuing an advanced interventional cardiology fellowship to sub specialize in peripheral endovascular and CTO (chronic total occlusion)/CHIP (complex higher-risk indicated patients) coronary cases. My goal is to develop my skills as an interventionalist in order to be able to treat patients with complex coronary disease that is not amenable to surgical intervention. I really enjoy coronary work and wanted to continue my training in order to challenge myself and become equipped with the skillset needed to provide my patients with the very best care. One of the best parts of being an interventional cardiologist is having the opportunity to provide continuity of care for some of the sickest patients and the privilege of providing them options when they feel they have none. Additionally, I feel passionate toward research and education; therefore, I hope to become part of a practice where I can further pursue these interests. In particular, I am interested in radiation safety, application of coronary CTA for interventional planning, intravascular imaging techniques for interventional optimization (particularly in SCAD and MINOCA), cardiogenic shock, and peripheral thrombectomy for pulmonary embolism.

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

I usually wake up around 5 in the morning (I have small children!) and start my day. I review my cases the night before, but refresh myself on the cases early in the morning and read about add on cases for the day. I try to listen to a lecture in order to focus on one area that I am learning about on my drive into work to boost efficiency. I usually begin cases at 7am at the hospital and I am in the cardiac catherization lab from early in the morning until the evening. In between cases, I am checking on patients, finishing procedure notes, and reviewing angiograms. During a case, I have the opportunity to work with general cardiology fellows and teach them the diagnostic portion of catheterizations. I also take STEMI call every fifth day and look forward to whatever surprise may await me on call days!

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

One of the most challenging aspects initially was having an understanding of the various equipment, techniques and devices available to me in the catheterization lab. In cardiology, there is always a new study or paper to learn from so the sheer volume and rapidity of information was demanding. Fortunately, I truly enjoy being able to learn every single day and found that each case presented a new opportunity for growth. Being an interventional cardiology fellow requires keeping a sense of calm in sometimes stressful situations and learning to think several steps ahead of where you are in order to anticipate what may happen next. It is a humbling profession and I learned early on that some days are more difficult than others. While some outcomes are not optimal, learning from your mistakes becomes critical.

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

I am lucky enough to be part of a cardiology program that takes pride in mentorship and there are multiple operators who have served as mentors for me throughout my fellowship. Dr. Robert Safian became my mentor even before I joined the general cardiology fellowship program and I have been extremely fortunate to have his advice and guidance throughout my development. I believe one of the key successes in the mentor/mentee relationship is having consistent communication, trust and honesty.

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

The best advice I could give is to master your skills as an internal medicine physician first. The very best cardiologists are those who have a passion for medicine in general and are skilled internal medicine physicians. If you are interested in cardiology, study hemodynamics and guidelines in preparation for your cardiology fellowship, but put in the time to become a successful internal medicine doctor. It will only serve you well in the future.

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

As a women in a male dominated field (in particular intervention cardiology), I would tell females that cardiology is an incredible field to pursue. Various studies have suggested that women may avoid careers in interventional cardiology due radiation exposure or lack of work/life balance. I am a mother to two young boys and, although life can be challenging and there are times that work comes before life (and vice versa), I am genuinely excited to be pursuing the field. For women in particular, we sometimes feel the need to "do it all". I have learned that grace, not perfection, is an essential motto to carry and have an incredible family whose support has enabled me to pursue my dream.