Marinos Charalambous, MD
Through international experience and persistence in research, this interventional cardiology fellow has carved his path in the field.
Marinos Charalambous, MD, is completing a 1-year interventional cardiology fellowship at North Shore University Hospital – Long Island Jewish Medical Center (New York, NY), where he also completed his cardiology training and served as chief fellow. Originally from Cyprus, Charalambous was educated at the University of Crete School of Medicine (Heraklion, Greece) and finished his internal medicine training at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School/Saint Peter’s University Hospital (New Brunswick, NJ). He has participated in medical work worldwide—completing clinical rotations at Boston University School of Medicine (Boston, MA) and the Karolinska Institute (Solna, Sweden) during medical school and serving as a research fellow at the American Heart Institute (Nicosia, Cyprus)—and his passion for international collaboration led him to create the English-Greek online dictionary of medical terms biomedlexicon.com. Charalambous is hoping to specialize in complex high-risk indicated procedures (CHIP) and chronic total occlusions (CTOs) and to pursue an academic career in which he can balance both clinical and research work.
What has surprised you the most about becoming an interventional cardiologist?
I was surprised by how much innovation there is in the field every day. Cardiovascular disease affects so many people, and that attracts a lot of financial support from companies that are interested in investing in new technologies. Because of that we have solutions like TAVR, intravascular imaging techniques like OCT and IVUS, and many other technologies that we see coming into the cath lab every day. There are not many fields in medicine in which we see such dramatic changes happening year by year. A lot of it also has to do with the personalities of the people involved in cardiology. We like technology, and we constantly look for new opportunities and different ways to approach interventional cardiology and serve our patients.
How has your experience working in multiple countries informed your practice?
Out of all the countries I’ve worked in, the United States has the best educational system for training doctors—there is no better place to train as a doctor than the United States. Now, how has that affected my patients? My experience has helped me to have a more open mind and allowed me to realize how different health systems work and get a better appreciation of the resources that we have in the United States. Here, the healthcare system is an expensive system, but there is a way to access it. Nobody will be refused care if they need it. I'm very proud and fortunate to have the opportunity to be here.
Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
I would say my general fellowship program director, Dr. Donna Marchant. If you talk with foreign graduates who want to go into interventional cardiology, you will probably hear how difficult it is for somebody who comes from another country, with an accent, especially in major cities like New York and Boston. I first met Dr. Marchant during my cardiology fellowship interview and I realized right away that she had read my personal statement in detail. In it, I basically described the story of my life and how many difficulties I had come across to get to that point. It was obvious that I wanted to become an interventional cardiologist since I was in medical school and that I have done a lot of research in the field. She knew my story when she met me, and she believed in me. Although the hospital doesn’t take foreign graduates in general, she gave me a spot. Dr. Marchant trusted me and then eventually helped me to get an interventional cardiology placement in the same institution. Everybody needs a person who trusts them and gives them an opportunity. If you are given an opportunity and you take it, you can go far. But you need that person to open the door for you. She was the person who opened the door for me, and I will always remember that.
What would be your best advice to someone wanting to pursue a career in interventional cardiology?
Regardless of whether they are a medical student, intern, or resident, I would advise that they start doing some form of research or start presenting cases in conferences. They should start getting involved in TCT, for example, as well as other conferences and meetings at the local level. This involvement is necessary for a couple of reasons. Number one, they need to get things done in order to show their interest in the field, from an early stage. The first interventional conference I presented at was in Israel as a medical student. The importance of showing a record of presentations from an early point is so that when the time comes to apply for cardiology fellowship, it is obvious that this is what you really want. You don't have to prove anything—they can already see your commitment. The other thing I would advise them to do is to create a portfolio of every presentation, poster, case report, publication, et cetera, to bring with them on interviews. I did this when I applied for cardiology and had a laminated, 70-page folder of all of my work that I would give to everybody who interviewed me. I would ask them to keep it so they had it in front of them when it was the time to make decisions. If you give somebody 70 pages of work that you have done so far, they cannot doubt your desire. I recall that at many places I interviewed, they would remember me because I was the person who “left a book” on their desk.
What is something that people might not know about you?
People in the hospital don't know that I play the saxophone: jazz music mostly. Also, when I went from Greece to the United States, I created a website that is an online dictionary for translating medical terms from Greek to English and English to Greek. It's called Biomedlexicon.com. I still run it, though I don't have the time to update it. Currently, it has about 50,000 terms.
What his nominator Donna Marchant, MD, says:
Dr. Marinos Charalambous is currently an interventional cardiology fellow extraordinaire. He came to the United States from Cyprus for the purpose of becoming an academic interventional cardiologist. He avails himself of every opportunity to learn and to teach. Yet through all of this he is most humble. From the beginning he actively pursued research opportunities and asked thought-provoking questions, leading to a wide variety of studies both during his residency and at North Shore University Hospital. He is very compassionate towards patients and always puts their care and safety first. He is inclusive with the entire staff and a favorite amongst our healthcare providers. During his cardiology fellowship his interest in education towards students and co-fellows was evident. He was a clear choice as chief fellow during his cardiology fellowship. We were fortunate to have him this year as an interventional fellow, where he continues to hone his skills in acute MI, complex interventions, and structural heart cases. He continues to teach medical students and cardiology fellows despite his busy schedule. He also continues to develop his ideas into research opportunities. He performs at a level far above our expectations, and we have been most fortunate to have him.
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