Why I Chose Preventive Cardiology: Claire Sullivan, MD

Cardiology Magazine Image

FEATURE | Cardiology is a passion of mine.

My father suffered a cardiac arrest at home when I was 14 years old. Living through his illness and recovery forever changed me and provided a glimpse into the world of medicine.

I greatly appreciated the wonderful team of physicians who contributed to my father's care and remember feeling inspired by their hard work, dedication, intelligence and compassion. One of my father's physicians, Praful V. Maroo, MBBS, FACC, is my role model and still my dad's cardiologist 20 years later.

Maroo is a kind and caring man who treats his patients with the utmost respect. I appreciated his dedication as a teenager and even more so now as a practicing cardiologist, as he has been seen at the hospital at all hours of the day and night caring for patients.

Laura F. Wexler, MD, FACC, is another one of my mentors. She was dean of my medical school and the first female cardiologist I encountered. It is obvious how much she enjoys her job both with patients and medical students.

Wexler's career opened my eyes and encouraged me to continue my pursuit of a path in cardiology.

Within cardiology, my special interests are prevention and cholesterol. During my third year of fellowship, I completed additional training in lipidology through the National Lipid Association and passed the Lipidology Certification exam.

I am committed to taking time with patients to discuss the importance of dietary choices, exercise, and high-risk counseling/risk assessments for those with a family history significant for heart disease.

Though there is delayed gratification in the field of prevention, nothing makes me happier than patients who are delighted to hear that their LDL has gone down or that they have lost weight.

What I like most about cardiology is the variety that the specialty affords. There is a good mix of inpatient and outpatient experiences, procedures, and imaging, as well as a diverse patient population. Variety keeps each day interesting and intellectually stimulating.

Cardiology Magazine Image

I would choose cardiology all over again.

Although I have only been in the field for two years as an attending physician, I am developing a strong patient base and hope to guide my patients (while reducing their cardiovascular risk) over decades to come.

It is also rewarding to be a woman in the field of cardiology. Many female patients have sought out a female cardiologist and feel more comfortable relating their health concerns to another woman.

Although cardiology is a demanding and time-intensive specialty, the investment that I have made in my career is worth it. I can honestly say that I enjoy going to work every day.

To women in training considering a career in cardiology, my advice is to figure out what is your greatest motivator.

I am driven by wanting to reduce cardiovascular disease; this is what gets me out of bed each morning. The hard work and long hours are worth it to do something you love. It is a privilege to be entrusted with the cardiovascular care of my patients and I am grateful for every opportunity.

This article was authored by Claire Sullivan, MD, clinical assistant professor in cardiology at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, OH.