#ChooseCardiology: Sarah Rosanel, MD – Why I Chose Cardiology as a Young French Woman Studying Medicine in NYC

As a teenager, I was often asked, "What do you want to be?" My immediate answer was always, "A doctor."

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Thinking back this seems like an odd response for a girl raised in a traditional family in which for generations the men of the household were involved in business, while the women stayed at home raising the family. There were no physicians (men or women) in my immediate or extended family, and none of the women had pursued higher education.

Born in Casablanca, Morocco, my family relocated to Paris, France, when I was young.

After having lived in three different continents and visited more than 50 countries in my lifetime, my family's core values of open-mindedness, kindness, respect, and acceptance of others was strengthened and reinforced my determination to pursue my dream.

The frequent life changes in my early life forced me confront various life stresses and empowered me with the resilience that I could draw upon as I blazed the trail to my dream. Negotiating life circumstances taught me discipline and integrity – traits that have certainly come in handy.

I believe that I gravitated toward a life in medicine over other professions because of my desire to be useful to society. Being a physician is more than a job – it is my identity, and working in a hospital setting has provided me tremendous satisfaction. I wake up every morning eager to go to work.

My interest in cardiology was initially intellectual – driven by the complexity of cardiovascular pathophysiology, which offered mental stimulation in an ever evolving field with new technologies and treatments. I loved the different facets of cardiology and diversity of experiences. The coronary intensive care unit gave me a taste of being an intensivist with the clinical instability of our patients; echocardiography demonstrated the radiologist side of the cardiologist; and the integrated congestive heart failure team provided patient care in a longitudinal way through educating and counseling the patients.

However, my interest gathered intensity, and took on a more emotional factor as I worked with my cardiac patients during my residency training – being exposed to various and sometimes heart-rending clinical scenarios. As a passionate and idealistic person, I was drawn to this specialty where I felt that I could most tangibly and dramatically have an impact and make a difference. I could actually "save" lives and be a source of comfort to patients and families – assisting them in their own, unique travails.

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The beauty of cardiology lies in the fact that while it provides me with a sense of immediate, short-term gratification when I am able to positively intervene in an acute illness, it also allows me to establish a longer term interpersonal, human connection with the patient, following patients over years and building a trusting relationship that is very dear to me.

I managed to have three beautiful children while studying and pursuing my passion to become a cardiologist. While it is not easy to juggle housework, raising children, maintaining a happy marriage and keeping my head clear, I strive to achieve those goals every day.

I continue to attempt to strike the fine balance between pursuing excellence in my chosen profession while remaining a loving mother and wife – I refuse to compromise on either goal!

Sarah Rosanel, MD

This article was authored by Sarah Rosanel, MD, Fellow in Training (FIT) at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Twitter: @DrRosanel