Life Beyond Cardiology: Finding a Different Rhythm

We’ve all heard the advice, but how many of us actively invest the time to cultivate a life outside of work? The need for work-life balance is a constant across the career span, and let’s face it, the retirement years will arrive faster than we’re banking on. Now’s the time to kick start this part of your investment portfolio.

Tomorrow at the Engage@ACC.18 Studio, a special session on Creating Your Magic — Life Beyond Cardiology, will feature four cardiologists who have learned how music, writing, mentoring and art enriches their lives with an important second act.

“I want people to walk away reminded that while we strive to be the best cardiologists and provide the best care, there’s more to life,” says Douglas P. Zipes, MD, MACC, co-chair of session. “When you wake every morning, being excited about the day is important, however you spend it.”

While three of the speakers are senior cardiologists, Suzanne Brown Sacks, MD, discovered her passion early. A summer at Berklee College of Music before starting medical school ignited her immersion into the world of music. “I couldn’t shake the bug and tried to incorporate music as much as I could at every stage of my medical training,” she says.

Now, she’s a “guitar-diologist,” a hybrid singer-songwriter and transplant cardiologist. After her cardiology fellowship, Sacks sought a part-time position that would allow her to pursue both her passion for music and medicine. She works two weeks a month at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and spends the rest of her time with her family and working on her music.

The benefit is clear: time to recharge the batteries. “I have more in my emotional pot, so I have more to give,” Sacks explains.

Cardiology Magazine Image"I want people to walk away reminded that while we strive to be the best cardiologists and provide the best care, there’s more to life." Douglas P. Zipes, MD, MACC

Zipes is a renowned cardiologist and textbook author who got the bug to write mysteries a decade ago. He has published three novels and completed a memoir. “It’s a lot harder than it looks,” he says of writing fiction. “Nevertheless, it’s been an absolutely wonderful new initiative for me.” While he’s well-known in cardiology, he acknowledges that in the fiction arena it’s more a matter of ‘Who are you?’ “It’s a bit of a comeuppance, essentially being an intern all over again,” he adds.

As he nears retirement, Michael H. Crawford, MD, FACC, chief of clinical cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center, is exploring how he can continue his passion for teaching, mentoring, research and service. This may be through volunteer or part-time positions. In his presentation, he’ll talk about the sorts of things a physician can do in medicine outside the confines and demands of a full workload.

George A. Beller, MD, MACC, has taken a different angle in retirement. A professor emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, in the last five years he has become a nature photographer and conservationist while remaining involved in medical research.

A photography class in Wyoming ignited a fire in Beller to learn more about photography and to travel to national parks and around the world. “Photography challenges me,” Beller says. “I’ve had to acquire sophisticated skills and it was exciting to go back to being a student.”

Beller wants to show how stimulating retirement can be, and how enriching it is to learn new skills, find a new passion and truly engage in activities beyond the daily demands of work. And by creating your own magic.

The Creating Your Magic — Life Beyond Cardiology Session will take place tomorrow from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m. in the Engage@ACC.18 Studio (Poster Hall, Hall A/B).

Keywords: ACC Publications, ACC Scientific Session Newspaper, ACC Annual Scientific Session

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