A Program for Every Fellow: Maximizing Your Conference Experience as a Trainee
From an exhaustive list of offerings, here’s a primer on which meetings fellows should prioritize.
What an exciting time to be an interventional cardiology trainee! Our field is growing exponentially. In the past three decades, transcatheter interventions have expanded from treating simple coronary disease to now being the standard of care in complex coronary, peripheral, congenital, and structural disease. The landscape of our field is constantly changing, with improvements in available technologies like stents, percutaneous valves, and atherectomy devices as well as the addition of new technologies like robotic interventions, advanced heart failure therapies, and artificial intelligence.
This environment of constant change, although exciting, can make it hard for trainees to become proficient in all fields of interventional cardiology within the confines of 1 or 2 years. Moreover, the great variation in practice patterns among training programs and institutions adds to the challenge, as some trainees may have only limited exposure to certain practices.
To help even the playing ground, multiple societies, foundations, and industry partners offer educational programs through trainee courses and general meetings. But there are only so many days in which a trainee can sacrifice clinical work for travel and extracurricular learning. Which courses should you sign up for?
There are a few questions I advise asking yourself when deciding which meetings to attend. First: would it be better to take a specific course as general fellow or wait until starting subspecialty training? Some programs are better suited to those with experience, while others can be tailored to a more wide-ranging audience. Second, think about what a meeting offers in terms of uniqueness. What are you going to get out of the agenda that you wouldn’t get elsewhere? Lastly, find out if the meeting covers the specific areas of practice that interest you. There are lots of reasons to attend a meeting—whether to fill knowledge gaps, grow technical skills, seek mentorship, or make connections, there is a program to fulfill your need. However, choosing the right educational program to attend is key to achieve your goals without missing important patient time.
I have been fortunate to attend numerous programs during my years in training and want to share some of my personal experiences.
- CRF Fellows Course: I found this annual spring course to be very well organized. The sessions cover everything from the basics of interventional cardiology to advanced structural, peripheral, and coronary disease management. The curriculum is stacked, so you’ll need to load up on coffee and snacks, which are available around the clock. When I attended, there was a text group for faculty and attendees, which allowed the fellows to ask questions and interact with faculty seamlessly. I would highly recommend this program for second- and third-year general cardiology fellows bound for interventional fellowship as well as interventional fellows alike.
- Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions (SCAI) Fellows Course: Held annually in the fall and open to interventional cardiology fellows only, this program offers more in-depth and detailed discussions compared with some of the other courses. It features multiple tracks for structural/congenital, peripheral, and coronary interventions. It’s also loaded with great faculty with whom you get to connect during a round table Q&A.
- ARCH Elite Fellows Program: This is a smaller course compared with the first two, which I found allows for more interaction with faculty. The day-and-a-half agenda focuses on the concepts of intracoronary imaging and physiology. I think this would be best suited for second- and third-year general cardiology fellows.
- Society for Vascular Medicine Fellows Course: For fellows interested in vascular medicine and endovascular interventions, I’d call this end-of-year course practically necessary. The agenda is very rich and covers topics that are often insufficiently covered during general cardiology and endovascular fellowship like vascular imaging and management of venous and lymphatic disease. This one is best for third-year general cardiology, interventional cardiology, and vascular medicine fellows.
- Northwell Health Cardiovascular Fellows Course: I have not been to this course myself, but I’ve heard past attendees attest to its great value. It covers the basics from transcatheter interventions, imaging, and physiology to complex coronary, structural, and peripheral interventions. Second- and third-year general as well as interventional cardiology fellows would benefit from attending.
US Interventional Meetings
- Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT): One of the biggest meetings in interventional cardiology worldwide, it features diverse topics and interactive learning as well as ample opportunities to present and make connections with faculty, co-fellows, and industry. The Late-Breaking Clinical Trials are usually the most anticipated presentations, and I’ve found the chosen keynote speakers to be well chosen and very interesting. Live cases from around the world also are featured heavily. With so much happening, stick with a mentor. That way, you’ll have help navigating the meeting and making good connections. I’d highly recommend attending this fall conference to general cardiology fellows looking to go into interventional cardiology and definitely to all interventional, structural heart, and CHIP trainees.
- SCAI Scientific Sessions: Usually held in May, this meeting is a comprehensive interventional cardiology event featuring multiple tracks like coronary, peripheral vascular, structural, and congenital disease. There’s a cath lab boot camp and a fellow’s summit for complex cases with opportunities to present and discuss with experts in the field. I think it is best attended during your interventional cardiology fellowship year or as a structural heart or CHIP fellow.
- Cardiovascular Research Technologies (CRT) Annual Symposium: This spring meeting hosts world-class faculty and offers a variety of sessions ranging from the bread and butter of interventional cardiology to a fellows program to more advanced discussions of complex coronary, peripheral, and structural interventions. It also features multiple hands-on sessions, live cases, and late-breaking trials. I’ve found the CRT keynote speaker session to be one of the most unique as it usually adds a different perspective on issues related to the practice of cardiology. This meeting is perfect for third-year general, interventional cardiology, structural heart, or CHIP fellows.
- Vascular Interventional Advances (VIVA): Held in late fall, this is an excellent comprehensive meeting for endovascular disease management that features late-breaking trials and more. The agenda incorporates vascular surgery, interventional cardiology, as well as interventional radiology, and it is a great opportunity to appreciate the true multidisciplinary approach to peripheral vascular disease. Trainees specifically will like the Fellows Face-Off competition (full disclosure: I won in 2018) and a dedicated physicians in training track with hands-on sessions.
- Society for Vascular Medicine (SVM) Scientific Sessions: This is another meeting I have not had the chance to attend yet, but a colleague described it as an educators’ meeting featuring novel case studies and original research in the field of vascular medicine and imaging. There seem to be ample networking opportunities available, including a speed mentoring program.
- Optimizing PCI Intravascular Imaging & Coronary Physiology Workshop: This 2-day spring course is full of in-depth discussions on physiology and imaging, but keep in mind that it is more advanced than some of the other courses. I’d recommend this for fellows currently enrolled in interventional cardiology programs.
- Chronic Total Occlusion (CTO) Summit: The program offers training in advanced CTO techniques, complex case discussions, and updates on available and future technologies. It is an excellent meeting for advanced interventional cardiology and CHIP fellows.
- Complex Coronary Case Symposium: Held every spring at The Mount Sinai Hospital, this course features excellent case-based discussions on pretty much every complex issue in the world of interventional cardiology. It also has an interventional cardiology board review course and opportunities to present challenging cases. This would be best attended by second- and third-year general and interventional cardiology fellows.
- San Diego Cardiovascular Interventions (SDCI) - Robotics and CHIP: Sponsored by SCAI, this is another meeting that I have not personally attended. However, I’ve heard firsthand about all of the robust educational content and excellent hands-on sessions it offers. This would probably be best for general and interventional cardiology fellows
- Cardiovascular Innovations (CVI): Held over the summer, this is an excellent meeting with world-class faculty covering all fields within interventional cardiology. Fellows can enter a case competition and attend sessions in multiple specialty tracks. One colleague described it to me as an “operators’ meeting,” as it includes many technical and hands-on experiences. This one would be best for second- and third-year general and interventional cardiology fellows.
- Cardiovascular Catheter Therapeutics: Advanced Endovascular and Coronary Intervention Global Summit (C3): Another summer meeting, this one is attended by lots of international attendees. Therefore fellows can have the opportunity to present and explore interventional cardiology through an international perspective.
- Scottsdale Interventional Forum: I have not had the chance to attend this one, but I’ve heard that it is a well-organized meeting that covers a variety of topics in interventional cardiology. Good for second- and third-year general and interventional cardiology fellows.
- New Cardiovascular Horizons (NCVH): This is a large, multidisciplinary vascular meeting attended by vascular surgeons, podiatrists, and interventional cardiologists. The agenda features a separate fellows course and focuses on vascular disease management. If you can’t make the annual conference, the organization sponsors multiple local and regional meetings throughout the year as well.
- New York Transcatheter Valves Symposium: This meeting offers a mix of different structural interventional topics as well as more advanced discussions on valve-in-valve TAVR and procedural complications and management.
- Emory Practical Intervention Course - Southeastern Consortium (EPIC-SEC): This is the longest-running annual interventional cardiology event worldwide. It’s a smaller meeting but is well attended by international and regional faculty and fellows. Because of this, you’re likely to find many opportunities for personal interaction with the other attendees. My favorite part were the case discussions on complication management. They host a case competition as well.
- The Amputation Prevention (AMP) Symposium: Again, I haven’t attended this meeting, but I know that it showcases the latest advancements in the field of endovascular interventions and is well attended by many involved in the fight against critical limb ischemia.
- Complex Interventional Cardiovascular Therapy (CICT): This summer, case-based workshop covers a plethora of important topics and addresses pressing questions in complex coronary and structural interventional cardiology. Sessions start with a case followed by several presentations on different management options.
- Interventional Symposium on Endovascular Therapy (ISET): One of the first meetings of each calendar year, ISET covers a wide range of arterial and venous disease therapies. It features several focused symposia and resident/fellow experience sessions as well as ample networking opportunities.
- VEITH Symposium: A vascular specialist meeting, VEITH is well attended by many stakeholders in vascular disease management, including vascular surgery, interventional radiology, and interventional cardiology. It would give vascular medicine, interventional cardiology, and endovascular fellows a great opportunity for multidisciplinary education.
- EuroPCR: Held each May, this is the biggest interventional cardiology meeting throughout Europe. It offers late-breaking clinical trials and featured clinical research presentations that cover all aspects of the field. Attending will give general and interventional cardiology fellows a great chance to learn about how interventional cardiology is practiced in Europe.
- PCR London Valves: This fall meeting is focused on structural interventions and innovations. It features great hands-on training sessions, and I’ve also found it easy to connect with people there. It’s best attended by interventional cardiology and structural heart fellows.
- Optimal CTO: As a CHIP fellow, I have this meeting on my list of “have to attend” list. It seems like an opportunity to explore different takes on CTO PCI from a global perspective. Because of the advanced nature of the material, this would be best for advanced interventional cardiology or CHIP fellows.
In addition, the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA), and European Society of Cardiology (ESC) each host interventional learning pathways as part of their annual conferences. Should you attend, as many general fellows do, I’d recommend following the meetings’ suggestions for you as a trainee.
In addition to the independent meetings and courses mentioned above, drug and device companies offer a slew of educational programs and courses for fellows-in-training. You can find them online, but I’ve discovered the best way to learn about them and enroll is through your local industry representatives.
While this list might seem exhaustive, it by no means includes all the educational meetings and courses available within interventional cardiology. I hope it gives trainees a good a start for planning and exploring these tremendous resources. Can’t travel far? Another valuable resource is local angiography clubs—periodic gatherings of interventional specialists to discuss different topics in the field. These also represent great opportunities to connect and socialize with nearby experts in a less formal environment.