#ChooseCardiology: Yogamaya Mantha, MD
Why did you choose cardiology?
I was 9 years old when I saw my grandmother in a hospital bed. She was admitted to undergo cardiac bypass surgery. It was overwhelming for me to see her differently than her normal robust self. Then the cardiologist who was treating her took us aside, introduced himself as the "heart doctor," and explained the mechanics of the heart. A few weeks after the procedure, I accompanied my grandmother to all of her appointments. Every day her heart grew stronger. This left a lasting impression on me. Looking back, that was the moment when I had decided to be a "heart doctor." During summer, I shadowed my uncle, a doctor who built a small, free urgent care center in the Himalayas. He would ask me during procedures, "Aren't you scared?" "A little," I would admit, "but I want to stay."
My exposure to medicine at an early age and my opportunity to live in different parts of the world enabled me to see medicine as a multifaceted discipline, and I approached it as such. During my intern year, I delved into cardiac energetics and cardiac imaging. I soon found myself applying this knowledge, meticulous work ethic and skills in direct patient care. I extended my research work by applying fluid mechanics, wavelet theories and deep learning techniques. It was then that I reaffirmed my commitment to cardiology.
What do you like best about cardiology?
Cardiology is an all-encompassing field. I appreciate the integrative physiology, the versatile procedures and imaging, and the invigorating research with a primary goal of bettering the lives of all human beings!
Who has been a role model or a mentor for you?
I am fortunate to have mentors from all over the world. I'm grateful to Carter King, MD, FACC, and Parin Parikh, MD, FACC, for their guidance and support throughout my residency. I'm indebted to my research mentor, Michinari Hieda, MD, PhD, for his clinical expertise, research prowess, and teaching me to be an astute clinician. I am thankful to have learned directly from Benjamin Levine, MD, FACC, where I was introduced to cardiac energetics and imaging under his mentorship.
I'm grateful to Kamala Tamirisa, MD, FACC, who took me under her wing and introduced me to leadership and advocacy for WIC. I'm thankful for the female cardiologists who are leaders in their fields including Tamirisa; Hafiza Khan, MD, FACC; Julia Grapsa, MD, PhD, FACC; Tonya Singh, MD, FACC; Sheila Sahni, MD, FACC; and Purvi Parwani MBBS, FACC, who are a few people that I would like to mention.
And most importantly, I'm indebted to my mother, Radhika Mantha, who was my first teacher, my number one advocate, and who helped me be the best mother I can to my 7-year-old son!
What area of cardiology are you considering to specialize in?
I love all aspects of cardiology, from preventative medicine to percutaneous procedures. I'm particularly interested in the intricate cardiac pathophysiology and cardiac energetics in structural heart disease. My mentors are leaders in electrophysiology and heart failure, which also makes me appreciate the integrative physiology of LVADs in advanced heart failure and AI-enhanced cardiac mapping techniques in electrophysiology. I'm very excited about being immersed in all specialties during my fellowship.
What advice would you give women considering cardiology?
Never second guess yourself. I was married with a baby in my third year of medical school. I knew I had to adjust my game plan—I had to raise my son alone for two years in New York, do everything expected of a medical student and excel at it. However, my resolve to pursue cardiology only strengthened. I welcomed the high-pressure environment of clerkship and the challenges of motherhood. I pursued research that included long nights and early mornings. These experiences molded me into the person and doctor that I am today.
Always speak up, loud and clear. As a second-year resident, I asked for the position of chief resident. I was told by my program director that I was the number one choice by a unanimous vote and asking for the position sealed the deal. As an Indian American WIC, I understand that we are underrepresented in this field. However, I also acknowledge that there is momentum for change. This is primarily because of the strong women who paved that path. I will continue to lead and advocate, and I am privileged to learn from the female trailblazers before me!
Would you choose cardiology again?
I am truly honored to be a part of this community and if given a choice, I would definitely choose cardiology again. I look back at my experiences that taught me valuable lessons. I learned that hard work, focus and strategy come naturally when I devote myself to a cause about which I am passionate. I learned that I was doing what I was meant to be doing. And I look ahead at the next three years, one of the most important years of my career. I still think of my uncle's question: "Aren't you scared?" "A little, but I want to stay."
This article was authored by Yogamaya Mantha, MD, cardiology fellow at University of Texas Health Sciences, San Antonio, TX. (Twitter: @ManthaYogamaya)