Fellow Talk: Career Advice From an Outgoing Advanced Interventional Cardiology Fellow
Looking back on his training years, one fellow offers his advice to medical students, residents, and fellows about how to make it in cardiology.
It’s easy to look back and think of all the should-haves, would-haves, and could-haves that might have changed the trajectory of your career. But we all know this isn’t healthy behavior. Glancing forward to the next few months—the last in a seemingly endless period of my training—I’ve been thinking about how I would absolutely not be where I am today without guidance from numerous different mentors and colleagues along the way. As I move forward, here is the short version of what I’d want to pass onto medical students and residents interested in a career in cardiology.
1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Although I was told by many over the course of my training to slow down and focus on bigger-picture outcomes, this necessity only seeps in when you are actually living through your years in residency and fellowship. So stay focused and make sure you have a very strong support system of family and friends to get you through. For me, this is my wife, parents, and brother. It is also crucial to work on your emotional intelligence, as there will be days when you will feel like giving up, and what will keep you on the right path is a deep-rooted sense of faith and purpose.
2. Perseverance trumps intelligence
You could be the smartest or the most talented student or resident, but if you cannot supplement your innate gifts with discipline and perseverance, you may do well enough to keep afloat, but you will not become a thought leader in the field. It takes a lot of discipline, perseverance, persistence, and sacrifice to garner recognition in the field of cardiology.
3. Keep your foot on the gas at all times
This may be hard advice to swallow with the current focus on work/life balance in medicine, but the fact is that you have to keep working relentlessly at all times. We work in perhaps one of the most competitive subspecialties, and that won’t end because you’ve finished your training. If anything, the field will become even more competitive. Therefore, it is important to keep at it and keep working. For interventionalists specifically, that means making time to write sections of manuscripts or blogs in between cases.
4. Stay humble
Just like life, cardiac catheterization laboratory is a great leveler. You’re not the first who will tread this path, and you certainly will not be the last. And yes, there’s always someone smarter, more hard-working, and more skillful just around the corner. So always stay humble.
5. Collaborate and share
There’s enough work to go around for everyone. It is incredibly important to share knowledge and collaborate on projects because the rewards are exponential and unattainable on your own. More importantly, working as a team improves your skills as a physician and augments your knowledge base.