#ChooseCardiology: Yu Xie, MD

One of the best pieces of advice I received early on in my medical training was to choose the field that you could most see yourself hanging out with the people who are already in that field outside of work. The job of a cardiologist can be hard on some days. It goes without saying that if you truly enjoy the people you work with, you are a lot more likely to enjoy going to work. For the past two years, I am proud to say I work as an advanced heart failure, LVAD and transplant cardiologist at California Pacific Medical Center (UCSF) in San Francisco, California. Some days, the work load or the patient cases can be difficult or challenging – but I am always happy and excited to come to work, tackle the day with my work family and have chosen cardiology.

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As a medical student at UCSF, I was drawn towards the procedural and surgically focused fields because I found it gratifying to work with my hands and see direct change from my medical decision in real time. At the same time, I really enjoyed my psychiatry rotation where the therapeutic bond between a provider and their patient through listening, emotional support and understanding provides great healing power. For me, having my medical school continuity clinic in cardiology with Gordon L. Fung, MD, FACC, and taking an extra clinical research year with Priscilla Y. Hsue, MD, FACC, between my third and fourth year were crucial in cementing my decision to go into internal medicine as a pathway to cardiology.

Cardiology combines all aspects that draws me to medicine. There is direct intervention working with my hands. There is treatment of critically ill patients and exploration of problems through hemodynamics. And there is the ability to support patients and their loved ones through some of the toughest times in their health journey.

During my cardiology fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, I was able to learn from numerous amazing faculty and co-fellows. They were compassionate, knowledgeable, accomplished and family-oriented. It was important for me to model myself after female mentors like Michele A. Hamilton, MD, FACC, and Michelle M. Kittleson, MD, FACC, who are dedicated to nurturing the next generation of cardiologists. I got to know them as great cardiologists and great people. I chose an extra year of training in advanced heart failure at Cedars-Sinai because I enjoyed working in a multidisciplinary team in understanding the patient as a whole, the innovation of LVADs and the life-changing nature of a heart transplant.

My duties today are split between inpatient rounding, procedures in the cathlab, imaging, three outpatient clinics, and teaching residents and fellows. Often, I encounter accomplished female residents and fellows who ask me privately about work-life balance as they are making life plans. As a mom of two, wife to a physician and an early career attending, balance is tricky sometimes but achievable most of the time. It takes careful planning, an encouraging environment, good help and most especially, getting to enjoy what you do.

Yu Xie, MD

This article was authored by Yu Xie, MD, cardiologist at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, CA.