FEATURE | #ChooseCardiology: Ki Park, MD, MS

FEATURE | In this edition of the ACC WIC Section's #ChooseCardiology series, Ki Park, MD, MS, shares why she would choose a career in cardiology again.

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Why did you choose cardiology?

I was originally drawn to the field of cardiology due to experience with family members dealing with heart disease. However, I became really intrigued with the idea of becoming a cardiologist when I went through cardiovascular physiology in medical school. Learning about hemodynamics and the vascular system in the body was fascinating, and the fact that one could directly auscultate the heart and make diagnoses based on this direct "interaction" was eye-opening.

As I progressed throughout medical school and residency, my interest in cardiology continued to blossom. I loved the variety of care that encompassed this field, where one could go from managing critically ill patients in the hospital to seeing patients without heart disease to work on risk factor modification in the clinic setting. It was also during this time that I began to enjoy performing procedures. I loved this type of work so much that I even opted to exchange inpatient ward rotations for intensive care rotations. I enjoyed the overnight on call work and this gave me more opportunities to do procedures!

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.

What do you like best about cardiology?

I enjoy the variety of patients that we see in cardiology. From the inpatient to outpatient settings, the cath lab to the clinic and across the age spectrum, there is such a breadth of conditions to assess and manage that one's practice never becomes tiring. I also appreciate the never-ending changes in evidence-based medicine and need for constant academic inquiry to stay current on the latest literature and guidelines. There is constant ongoing research into new therapies and standards of care, and while keeping up with the evolution in cardiology practice is demanding, it is also highly appealing and mentally challenging.

Who has been a role model or mentor for you?

As a female fellow wanting to pursue interventional cardiology, I was fortunate to have had two female interventional attendings at my institution, which is rare in a field where so few women practice. During fellowship, I also had the privilege to train under Anthony A. Bavry, MD, MPH, FACC, whom I am now fortunate to have had as a colleague in the cath lab for many years. Bavry has not only guided my procedural career but has also served as a sponsor in my academic career, promoting my interests in research and quality initiatives specifically within the Veterans Affairs system.

Why did you chose this area of cardiology?

I chose interventional cardiology because I truly enjoyed doing procedures during both residency and fellowship. During general fellowship, I knew that interventional cardiology was my path when I experienced "withdrawal" at the end my cath rotation. The environment within the cath lab still never fails to excite me, and I appreciate the feeling of instant gratification that comes with opening a complete coronary occlusion during STEMI or performing a TAVR. I also enjoy the dynamic that comes into play when talking with patients and their families about what options are available and discussing that just because something can be fixed does not mean an intervention is the right answer. Being in an academic institution, I also am fortunate to be able to teach fellows in the cath lab.

What advice would you give women considering cardiology?

Interventional cardiology is a challenging field in many ways, particularly for women who often find integrating career and family challenging. I am keen to this challenge as I have experienced a pregnancy complication during my interventional training year. However, it is ultimately the passion that drives those of us who choose to enter into this subspecialty. In the modern era, it is important to realize that women do not have to "do it all" when it comes to either work or life. There are times in life when career may predominate over family, and vice versa. Realizing the challenges upfront can help build management skills to better integrate work and life, with passion guiding the path between these two areas.

Would you choose cardiology again?

I would absolutely, 100 percent choose cardiology again. By no means is choosing cardiology an easy path – the training is long, work hours are not regular and there are many demands on your personal life. However, it is an absolute privilege to be able to be entrusted with the care of someone's heart. This is particularly true in the field of interventional cardiology where the physical demands along with erratic work schedules are present. However, the satisfaction of saving someone's life is unparalleled and worth every moment of the hard path into this field.

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This article was authored by Ki Park, MD, MS, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL.