#ChooseCardiology: Rhian E. Davies, DO, MS, FACC
Why did you choose cardiology?
Prior to entering medical school and starting training, I really didn't know what I wanted to do. However, my dad always told me, "You have to do something that excites you. Otherwise it's just going to feel like work, day-in and day-out."
When I started my clinical rotations, cardiology was the one thing that made me feel excited, especially once I started doing interventional work. Being able to help a range of patients – from those with hypertension who are stable in the outpatient clinic to those sick with acute coronary syndrome – was so rewarding and combined all the things I love about medicine.
What do you like best about cardiology?
I enjoy the variety of patients and cases. I'm able to treat all different kinds of patients because there are so many disease processes, from preventative care to inpatient cardiogenic shock. And the field is constantly evolving, allowing us to grow and take better care of patients.
Who has been a role model or mentor for you?
I have had many mentors along the way. I completed my general cardiology training at Penn State Health's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and that's where I met Ian Gilchrist, MD, FACC. He gave me the confidence to pursue a career in interventional cardiology and even pushed me to leave Penn State and learn from other operators.
Then, I had the opportunity to attend Brown University and work with J. Dawn Abbott, MD, FACC, the first female interventionalist I ever worked with. She is very inspirational and takes on many complex cases. She encouraged me to pursue a career in chronic total occlusion (CTO) PCI.
And that's how I met William Lombardi, MD, FACC; Jamie McCabe, MD, FACC; and Kate Kearney, MD, at the University of Washington, who have also served as mentors to me. All five of them were so inspirational and drove me to where I am today. Even now, if I have a challenging case, I can call any one of them for help and know they will pick up.
I would not be where I am today, doing the cases that I do and helping the patients that I am able to help, without their mentorship and support.
Why did you choose this area of cardiology?
During my training, a lot of patients would come in with CTOs and they were told there was nothing that could be done or that they would just have to stay on medication. But these patients have real symptoms and are looking for help. That's why I liked CTO PCI – it gave me the opportunity to treat these patients and do something to help beyond just prescribing them medication.
Some of their arteries have been closed for months, years and even decades. Once opened, they may have an improved quality of life. CTO PCI can be very challenging, but it's also very rewarding. You can really make a difference in a patient's life.
What advice would you give women considering cardiology?
If you like what cardiology has to offer, then do it! Ultimately, we all need to enjoy what we do. Because there are so many pathways within cardiology, you can really choose to focus on what inspires you.
Many women may be concerned about pursuing a career in interventional cardiology because of the radiation exposure, wearing lead and difficulty with work-life balance, but this is far from the reality. With the implementation of robot-assisted procedures, we can do more with less risk. Over time, robotics can help decrease radiation exposure, time in lead, procedure time and increase the efficiency of the lab.
Additionally, there is a future opportunity for remote PCI, through which we can help patients in more rural areas get better care.
Would you choose cardiology again?
I would absolutely choose cardiology again. I don't think there's any field more fulfilling.
This post was authored by Rhian E. Davies, DO, MS, FACC, an interventional cardiologist at WellSpan Health in York, PA.