Network to Work: Four Tips to Matching Into Interventional Cardiology Fellowship
Meeting program directors at local events, connecting with drug reps, and completing out-rotations can help build your network.
Matching into a subspecialty fellowship can be very stressful, especially when applying for interventional cardiology, one of the fastest growing and evolving medical fields. Fortunately for me, my path to becoming an interventional cardiology fellow was clear from the beginning, so I was ready to apply by the second year of my cardiovascular disease fellowship at Michigan State University McLaren Macomb, Detroit. However, even being at one of the finest institutions and leading hubs of the interventional world, I had to make sure that people knew how interested I was in securing a fellowship spot.
I realized very early on that networking, even beyond having good grades and ample research experience, is the key to the kingdom when it comes to matching. There are many ways to network, but here are four tips I’ve found that helped me:
- Complete an out-rotation: Position yourself to explore the world outside your program by seeking out a 1-month long interview with the program of your choice. This will be not only an opportunity for you to put your skills in front of your potential next mentor, but also you will work hard and gain perspective. If interested, reach out to local interventional program directors, current fellows, or coordinators to set it up. Unfortunately, many programs do not allow outside fellows for their cath lab rotations, but you can still get your foot in the door by applying for a noninvasive or consult rotation at the institution of your choice. Remember, your goal is to network!
- Seek out local interventional cardiology meetups: As a general cardiology fellow, I attended quarterly local interventional cardiology conference groups where I would have the opportunity to meet and greet with local cardiologists, trainees, and most importantly program directors for interventional cardiology fellowships in the area. Believe me, a 10-minute face-to-face conversation outside of work can go much farther than an hour of formal interview. At one of these events, I had the opportunity to meet an associate program director of interventional fellowship at my current program at the Mount Sinai Morningside and Beth Israel program in New York City. It’s unlikely that I would have secured an interview slot otherwise. You can find out about these meetups by reaching out to interventional fellows, attendings, and drug reps.
- Attend industry-sponsored dinners: Becoming acquainted with your local drug and device reps is an absolute must in the field of interventional cardiology. They will keep you in the loop regarding any local educational events and other opportunities that might be beneficial for you. While this practice might be considered taboo by many of our academic colleagues, I look at this networking opportunity as essentially a free learning tool, so take advantage.
- Participate in research and academics: Depending on your program, this can be handed to you on a platter or be challenging to seek out. Every program wants its fellows to perform research and present at national conferences, but some provide strong support and others do not. Regardless, conducting research and presenting it is a necessary step in becoming a successful physician and scientist as it builds character and self-confidence. I gave both oral and poster presentations at national conferences as a general fellow, and this gave me an opportunity to stand out among my peers. It is also another opportunity to network with program directors and other experts in the field.
Overall, interventional cardiology fellowship is a competitive subspecialty that requires hard work and dedication. I believe networking and getting to know the program beforehand will give you a higher likelihood of landing a spot than simply focusing on academics and research alone.