#ChooseCardiology: Jennifer Co-Vu, MD, FACC
Why did you #ChooseCardiology?
I decided on pediatric cardiology during my cardiology rotation when I was a first-year resident in pediatrics. I love puzzles and most congenital heart disease (CHD) cases, especially complex CHD, are puzzles waiting to be solved. I am also a "fixer," so being able to provide a "fix" or a "palliation" to babies with CHD and being able help them grow with good quality of life is what fulfills me as a physician.
What do you like best about cardiology?
The thing I love the best about cardiology is the opportunity to take care of patients and support their families. About 1% of all newborns are born with congenital heart defects. Parents are anxious the first time they hear that their babies are diagnosed with heart disease. I see it as an important role for me as a cardiologist to counsel and educate the families of patients and (often) offer a solution that enables their babies to survive, provides a glimmer of hope and alleviates their fears. At the University of Florida (UF) Congenital Heart Center, we all (surgical, medical, intensive care, anesthesiology, etc.) work as a cardiovascular team to take care of patients and I have truly enjoyed this collaboration. Improving care for my CHD patients is also my main motivation for my other passions – clinical research and educating the next generation of cardiologists.
Who has been a role model or mentor for you?
I have so many role models and mentors to mention and I continually add more! Arwa Saidi, MBBS, FACC; Jane Newburger, MPH, FACC, MD; Marian Limacher, MD, FACC; Roberta Williams, MD, MACC; Tal Geva, MD, FACC; Andrew Powell, MD, FACC; Andrew Pelech, MD; Margaret Samyn, MD, FACC; Wayne Tworetzky, MD; Daphne Hsu, MD, FACC; Shubhika Srivastava, MBBS, FACC; Anne Marie Valente, MD, FACC; Toniya Singh, MBBS, FACC; Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC; Frederick Jay Fricker, MD; Mark Bleiweis, MD; Curt DeGroff, MD; and Biagio Pietra, MD, FACC, are a few.
What area did you specialize in and why did you choose that specialization?
I am a non-invasive imager, fetal cardiologist and run the single ventricle program. I chose non-invasive imaging as a subspecialty because I want to help patients by diagnosing CHD through imaging. In pediatric cardiology, the majority of the diagnosis of CHD is made with non-invasive imaging. Being a former engineering major (before switching to pre-med), the physics and mathematical aspect in cardiovascular imaging appeals to me on so many levels whether it be in echocardiography, cardiac CT or cardiac MRI. In fetal cardiology, I see the importance of early prenatal diagnosis in improving the prognosis and outcomes of neonates with CHD. The UF Single Ventricle Program was established to help complex single ventricle patients obtain the best care and outcomes. The program has established a multidisciplinary team which strives to help these patients through the three-stage surgical palliation and beyond.
What advice would you give women considering cardiology?
The advice I would give to women considering cardiology is: don't be afraid. Cardiology is an amazing world and you will be able to do exciting things. Make sure to follow your heart (pun intended) and do what you love, what sparks your interest, and be passionate about it. Don't let anyone discourage you. Try to find an opportunity and don't hesitate to take it. Ask a lot of questions, be resilient, identify your strengths and find a way to make a difference.
This article was authored by Jennifer Co-Vu, MD, FACC.