Feature | Expanding Horizons, Expanding the CV Workforce

Expanding Horizons, Expanding the CV Workforce

When looking at how to solve the global cardiovascular workforce crisis as well as building a workforce that looks like all the patients we serve, several themes emerge.

One such theme includes helping those interested in medicine and cardiology, who don't typically have a path to pursue this interest, know their dream is possible and how. This takes connecting them with clinicians who they can relate with, who have successfully established their cardiovascular career and who are willing to share insights and advice based on their own path into medicine.

Helping the next generation build networks is vital to ensuring the necessary encouragement and support that will sustain their pursuit of a career in medicine. Even for those who have found their way into medicine, help is needed to explore and reach the full scope of their capacity in clinical care, research and/or leadership development. Sometimes this takes networking and sometimes this takes a program that efficiently and effectively helps them quickly gain and/or sustain the skills to fulfill this process.

Several ACC pipeline and leadership development programs do all this and more, leading to many stories of remarkable individuals that attest that sowing these seeds is indeed growing a "garden" of clinicians who are changing the face of cardiology and ensuring a diverse and sustainable cardiovascular workforce. Cardiology shares a few of these stories here.

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley has long dreamed of being a cardiovascular surgeon. Now a sophomore at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, he's known since he was a child that he wanted to be a doctor.

"I grew up in Mississippi where a lot of people suffer from cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension. I want to understand more about how we can prevent this," he says.

Scrolling through Instagram one day, he learned about ACC's Young Scholars program and applied with the hope to learn more about cardiology and "get an early start" on a career." In a pivotal moment during Camp Cardiac held at Heart House in Washington, DC, Stanley had the chance to meet ACC's Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Melvin Echols, MD, FACC.

"We basically had the same story growing up. He was in the band, I was in the band; he wanted to go Morehouse, I want to go to Morehouse. It was like we were just copied and pasted," Stanley says, noting this meeting reinforced that it was possible to go the distance to reach his dream.

His experience also highlighted that "it is never too early to learn" about cardiology. In addition to his own work toward being a cardiologist, Stanley is writing a book for children about coronary artery disease, breaking it down to what they can understand and hopefully inspiring others to follow their dreams.

Marley Lee

Marley Lee took a toy doctor's kit to career day when she was in kindergarten. Now she's in her fourth year of medical school at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine in Mobile, AL.

Lee attributes being a medical student to being in the Young Scholar program which further fueled her fascination with the heart. It was through Young Scholars she was able to talk with cardiologists from around the world for the first time, experience the value of scientific conferences by attending ACC's Annual Scientific Session, and learn what it's like to be involved in patient care.

"The Young Scholars program showed me that medicine can be something fun and it allowed me to make connections, which made navigating the application process to medical school easier," she says. She also notes that, being from an historically black university without a pre-med program at the time, the equity and diversity aspect of this program provided an opportunity she wouldn't have otherwise. "Because of this program, I'm a medical student. Thank you ACC."

Sneha Nandy, MD

Sneha Nandy, MD, a newly minted fellow in cardiology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, says that being a member of ACC's Internal Medicine Program was "the best thing that happened because it was exactly the kind of support and push I needed to apply for the fellowship."

Hearing the stories from women leaders about their respective paths from medical students to attendings, and how often they were the only fellow who was a woman, was inspiring, reassuring and helped us see we belong, she says. Nandy says the program provided important guidance and resources on navigating the system, allayed concerns about work-life balance, and showed that despite cardiology being a challenging field, it holds promise for women cardiologists.

"This reinforcement that you have what it takes and seeing similar people who have succeeded is what one needs to cross the finish line." Click here to read more about Nandy's journey from medical school in her native India to internal medicine residency in the U.S., and more.

Jill Steiner, MD, MS, FACC

Jill Steiner, MD, MS, FACC, an early career cardiologist, just received a K23 Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health to conduct studies on the psychosocial health of adults with congenital heart disease.

A self-described "psychology-minded cardiologist" and a graduate of the College's Clinical Trial Research program, Steiner has completed two observational studies on resilience, nearing the end of a pilot clinical trial designed to adapt a resilience-building intervention, and is planning a grant to expand the pilot to a multi-site, multi-investigator trial.

"The Clinical Trial Research Program gave me the skills to run a trial. It gave me the know-how and practical background to execute the plan," she says, adding it's also given her a community of researchers.

Engagement. Networking. Collaboration. All are keys to professional development and to creating the future of cardiology. ACC makes it possible, welcoming everyone and lifting them up to their greatest potential.

Click here to learn about specific programs, including the IM Program and Young Scholars, aimed at building the next generation of diverse and inclusive clinicians and researchers at ACC.org/Diversity.

Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Cardiovascular Diseases, Fellowships and Scholarships, Leadership, Workforce, Students

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