#ChooseCardiology: M. Abigail Simmons, MD, FACC
Why did you choose cardiology?
I chose cardiology because I found physiology engaging. I particularly enjoyed learning about all different congenital heart defects and the unique physiology associated with each.
What do you like best about cardiology?
My favorite part of cardiology is the patients and their families. As a pediatric and adult congenital cardiologist, I care for patients from birth through old age. I am honored to share in each patient's journey from diagnosis through intervention, and also through childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, parenthood, and even grandparenthood.
Who has been a mentor for you?
I've learned a great deal from a number of people in medicine, but when I think of a mentor, I think of those who not only taught me, but also helped form me as a physician. My first mentor in medicine was Keith Bravo, MD. He was a Med-Peds physician who practiced in rural West Virginia. I learned from him that respect for a patient as a person is a unifying and driving force for a rational practice of medicine. Respect for a patient guided him to not only practice good medicine but also establish efficient office practices that enabled an extraordinary number of patients to obtain medical care every day regardless of their ability to pay. The practices he helped me develop continue to inform my daily decisions on what I do and how I do it.
Jennifer Co-Vu, MD, FACC, has been a tremendous mentor to me as an early career congenital cardiologist. She has helped me evaluate different job opportunities and my experiences in early practice in order to routinely improve my own practice. Despite her own professional obligations, she constantly seeks ways to foster my career.
Why did you choose adult congenital and pediatric cardiology?
I chose adult congenital cardiology because I enjoyed not only the care of children with congenital heart disease but also evaluating and managing the interaction of congenital heart disease with acquired heart disease. No two patients are the same and I love taking the time to think through each patient's unique physiology and comorbidities.
What advice would you give women considering cardiology?
When thinking about where you will train or where you will work, ask yourself:
- Will I thrive here?
- Will this administration and my colleagues value me and the skillset I bring to the position?
- How does this position interact with my other personal goals.
Finding the right fit is more important and will allow you to be a better doctor than getting the most "prestigious" position.
Would you choose cardiology again?
Absolutely. As a cardiologist, I have opportunities to use many different skills including office medicine, procedural skills, critical care, and diagnostic imaging interpretation. No two days are alike.
This article was authored by M. Abigail Simmons, MD, FACC, Presbyterian Health System, Albuquerque, NM.