#ChooseCardiology: Frances O. Wood, MD, FACC

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Why did you choose cardiology?

Both of my parents had medical issues, so from a young age I knew I wanted to work in a science or medical field. After college, I spent time teaching science to high schoolers and working in the office of renowned cardiologist Tift Mann, MD, an interventionalist on the cutting edge of the radial approach and unprotected left main stenting. I started volunteering with Mann and worked my way up to research coordinator. The clinical research opened my eyes to the field of interventional cardiology. This early experience truly shaped me and spurred me to apply to medical school. Ever since, interventional cardiology has been my passion.

What do you like best about cardiology?

In my five years of practice, I have really been able to pave my own path, something that was very important to me not just as a woman but also as a physician looking for a niche practice. I like that I am able to treat patients who need immediate care relating to a STEMI as well as have a long-term relationship with cardiac patients who trust me.

Who has been a role model or mentor for you?

It is so important for young physicians to have mentors. Mann has mentored me throughout my career and we continue to speak on a regular basis. During my fellowships at William Beaumont Hospital, Cindy L. Grines, MD, FACC; Robert D. Safian, MD, FACC; and George S. Hanzel, MD, FACC, were guiding forces for me. I am inspired by all female leaders who speak up for what they believe in and who challenge thought processes for those around them.

Why did you chose this area of cardiology?

I really enjoy and thrive in the rush of performing STEMIs and complex cases. There is a life on the line and the whole team comes together and uses their skills to perform. When it comes to robotics, I appreciate not having to wear the heavy lead. The reduced radiation exposure and improved precision are beneficial for both physicians and patients respectively. Plus, my staff and I have gotten closer by performing robotic PCIs together.

What advice would you give women considering cardiology?

Do not hold back or assume you should be treated differently because you are a woman. You are a physician first and should be treated the same as any other physician. Participate, question, and if something does not feel right, push back – whether it is in the best interest of your patient, your team or yourself. Be confident.

Would you choose cardiology again?

Yes, although the administrative side of medicine consumes a lot of my time – time that I would prefer to spend working with patients.

Anything else you would like to add?

Medical students have a great opportunity to pave their own path and can often build their own rotations to meet their goals. Keep an open mind and keep checking in with yourself about the type of medicine you thrive on, whether that is procedures or inpatient versus outpatient work. Decide what level of intensity you want your practice of medicine to be and then find mentors who can help guide you.

This article was authored by Frances O. Wood, MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist with dedicated structural training, specializing in complex coronary interventions and valvular disease at WakeMed Heart Center in Raleigh, NC.