#ChooseCardiology: Elaine Y. Wan, MD, FACC

Elaine Y. Wan, MD, FACC

Cardiology is the study of the heart, a central and major organ in the body. I have been attracted to cardiology since I first learnt about it in high school because the heart provides essential blood flow to all the other organs in the body.

The physiology of the heart, how it pumps and has four different chambers that have various functions is fascinating.

There are so many things we still do not understand about the heart that needs to be investigated. For example, we do not know why some people develop abnormal heart rhythm and some do not. This is why I am both a clinician and scientist.

I chose to be a cardiac electrophysiologist, a subspecialist in cardiology, to focus on the study of the electrical activation of the heart. Being an electrophysiologist allows me to be a surgeon and a clinician with an in depth understanding of internal medicine.

The advanced 3D technology used in electrophysiology also appeals to the engineer and scientist in me.

I have been fortunate to have had supportive and honest mentors in my career. It takes time to find the right mentorship and you need different mentors in various time points in your life and career.

When I was in high school, I first started learning research techniques from Elaine Tuomanen, MD, an infectious disease doctor who is now a leading principal investigator at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. She taught me that I could become like her, a woman physician-scientist, a leader, wife and mother.

My mentor for the past decade, has been Steven O. Marx, MD, professor of medicine at Columbia University, who has always been direct and forthright with me about my weaknesses.

I truly appreciate that his door is always open, and he was understanding to the limitations to my work after I became pregnant and later a mother.

Anne L. Taylor, MD, dean of faculty affairs at Columbia University has also been a great mentor and role model for me as she is one of the very few women in a prominent leadership position at a major academic medical center.

It has been a long road to get here and there is yet a long way to go but the journey was and still is well worth it. It's a life-long marathon! Keep going. It is important for women to support each other.

This article is authored by Elaine Y. Wan, MD, FACC, cardiologist at Columbia University in New York, NY.