Feature | Why I #ChooseCardiology

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A benign heart murmur that was detected when I was 6 years old, along with the frantic investigations carried out at a time when murmurs were not considered benign, piqued my interest in cardiology. My life had been quite uneventful until then, and I found the frequent trips to appointments and diagnostic tests quite fascinating. The pediatric cardiologist made a lasting impression when I saw how poised, knowledgeable and friendly he was, as well as how confidently he allayed my parents’ fears that the murmur was nothing to be worried about.

Years later in medical school while listening to hearts riddled with rheumatic heart disease in an underserved setting in Kenya, I was convinced that cardiology was the field I would dedicate my life to. I have not looked back since. 

The thing I like most about cardiology is the beauty of the physiology and anatomy of this central solitary organ and the level of evidence that backs our everyday practice. The advancement that has taken place and will take place, especially in terms of pharmacotherapy and biotechnology, coupled with the multitude of opportunities that one can pursue makes the field of cardiology versatile and constantly exciting. 

I decided to pursue advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology because of the rewarding experience of taking a patient through treatment aimed at improving their quality and quantity of life when they have reached the final stages of a failing heart. Witnessing the dramatic turnaround in successful recipients of heart transplant and temporary or durable mechanical support is a constant source of motivation.

I have been privileged to be surrounded by amazing female cardiologists during my training in heart failure who have all served as my mentors throughout the year. In advanced heart failure, the partnership between cardiac surgery and cardiology is driven closer due to a common goal of pursuing what is best for the end-stage heart failure patient at the time. Witnessing my senior mentors navigating this male dominated field and letting their voices and ideas be heard is quite inspiring. Nevertheless, they remain successful at balancing demands of motherhood and career with a poise and grace that sends waves of encouragement to this young mother at the cusp of her career.

One piece of advice I would give to women considering cardiology is to seek out a female cardiologist who can be a source of great support through the career process. As a young mother, I have learned to welcome lots of help in raising my two boys, and having the support of my wonderful spouse (also a physician) has gone a long way in the successful pursuit of this amazing career. Another piece of advice is to keep striving. As long as you visualize the dream, no amount of naysayers will keep you away from it. It will not be easy, but it is definitely worth it!

This article was authored by Linda Njoroge, MD, Fellow in Training at Marshall University in Huntington, WV.

This article is part of the ACC WIC Section's #ChooseCardiology series, where women in residency, fellowship and early career are encouraged to share why they would choose cardiology again.