From the Member Sections | What Makes a House a Home?

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A house is defined as a building for human habitation. A home is defined as a place where one lives permanently; especially as a member of a family. The ACC has become my professional home.

I owe much to the College, particularly the Early Career (EC) Professionals Member Section. Within this Section, I connected with peers who were struggling with a common issue faced by EC Professionals – the transition from Fellow in Training to launching one's professional career.

The sense of community within the ACC Early Career Section was a great resource – I was not alone.

During my time as an EC Professional, the opportunities to participate in the Emerging Faculty Program and Leadership Academy provided me with the pillars on which I've built my career. Most of my time is now spent managing a 1,100+ provider group. As such, I spend many days buried in the alphabet soup of balancing William Kissick's Iron Triangle of Quality, Access and Cost.

Interestingly, many discussions within the College and our Early Career Section focus on the principles  encapsulated in the ValueTales books. 

A moment of introspection has been provided to me recently by the passing of an influential emeritus professor at my institution who was a master educator in health care delivery for the whole person.

I've reflected on my childhood, medical school education and professional home – the ACC. As a young boy, the ValueTales book series were my favorite stories to read. Each of these books emphasized an important human trait by telling the story of someone who exemplified that specific characteristic.

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Some of the stories include that of Louis Pasteur in The Value of Believing in Yourself; Helen Keller in The Value of Determination; Christopher Columbus in The Value of Curiosity; Jackie Robinson in The Value of Courage; and the Mayo Brothers in The Value of Sharing.

While all these stories influenced me and helped form who I am as a physician and a person, none influenced me more than The Value of Compassion, the story of Florence Nightingale. I had the opportunity to learn and model this concept of compassion from my late professor – the importance of understanding your patients, not just medically but as a human being.

During rounds with my late professor, we focused on what is often referred to as "all the baggage," that is, the stuff patients bring with them and influences their health and outcomes. One illustration of this is a patient who was readmitted for an exacerbation of heart failure secondary to medication noncompliance.

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However, our conversation with the patient revealed the true reason for the noncompliance: she had to pay for the funeral of her child who was killed in an automobile accident four weeks earlier. She didn't simply choose to ignore the medical advice of her physician; she simply didn't have the funds.

The importance of understanding the greater social interconnection that links all of us and our humanity enables us to practice medicine with compassion, empathy and understanding. It allows us to make humankind whole.

Interestingly, many discussions within the College and our Early Career Section focus on the principles encapsulated in the ValueTales books.

I hope this article gives all of us a moment of introspection and a chance to refocus on our priorities both today and in the days ahead by fulling embracing the Core Values of the ACC:

  • Patient-Centered
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Professionalism and Excellence

I am forever indebted to the ACC Early Career Section for the core values that resonate with the principles I learned from ValueTales. And for being my professional home – a place where I will permanently live as a member of this wonderful family, my cardiovascular family.

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This article was authored by Anthony A. Hilliard, MD, FACC, chief operations officer at Faculty Medical Group and associate professor of medicine at Loma Linda University Health, both in Loma Linda, CA. Reach out to him on Twitter using @AAHilliardMD.

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Empathy, Medication Adherence, Leadership, Schools, Medical, Exploratory Behavior, Physicians, Faculty, Financial Management, Heart Failure

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