#ChooseCardiology: Tochi M. Okwuosa, DO, FACC
Why did you choose cardiology?
I decided on a cardiology specialty during my cardiology rotation when I was a third-year medical student. Cardiology seemed very logical to me. I loved that the cardiovascular physiology is mathematical and logical (1+1 = 2). It is all about fluid mechanics and dynamics like we learned in physics. I also love the preventive aspect of cardiology – being able to change the course of one’s path of cardiovascular disease by making a few lifestyle changes.
Who has been a role model or mentor for you?
I have a number of role models and mentors, starting from residency: Ravi K. Garg, MD (God rest his soul); Jeanne M. DeCara, MD, FACC; Kim A. Williams Sr., MD, MACC; Philip Greenland, MD, FACC; Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, FACC; and Annabelle S. Volgman, MD, FACC.
Why did you choose your subspecialty (or what area are you considering)?
I chose cardio-oncology as a cardiology subspecialty because I love the complexity of the patients that forces one to think not just as a cardiologist but also as a well-rounded physician. Heart disease and cancer are the number one and two causes of death in the U.S. In this new era of cancer treatments involving targeted therapies, cancer patients are living longer (about 17 mil in 2019; projected to be close to 22 mil by 2030). However, up to 50% of patients that receive cancer therapy including chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy have some form of cardiovascular diseases or die from it. Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of morbidity and mortality among cancer survivors, next to recurrent or second malignancy. Cardio-oncology is a new subspecialty in cardiology that was born out of the need to prevent and treat this morbidity associated with cardiovascular disease among cancer patients and survivors, in order to prevent the associated high morbidity and mortality. It takes understanding of cancer treatments and their mechanisms of action in order to best understand their cardiovascular consequences and how best to treat and manage them, while also considering possible interactions with complications resulting from their cancer and therapy.
What advice would you give women considering cardiology?
Be smart; be resilient; be objective in your thinking; choose mentors that have an overall positive attitude that are also frank with you regarding your short-comings and how best to improve; choose mentors in various stages of their career because each one at each stage has something to offer; be respectful of others and yourself; be empathic; and always remember to show gratitude where it is due.
Would you choose cardiology again?
This article was authored by Tochi M. Okwuosa, DO, FACC, associate professor at the Rush College of Medicine and director of the cardio-oncology program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.