IS ONE OF THE MAIN PILLARS OF THE COLLEGE’S NEW STRATEGIC PLAN. AT THE CORE OF PURPOSEFUL EDUCATION IS THE EDUCATION PROCESS, WHICH IS DEPENDENT UPON THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT DEVELOP BETWEEN STUDENTS OR EARLY CAREER PROFESSIONALS AND THEIR TEACHERS, EDUCATORS AND MENTORS. THE COLLEGE IS COMMITTED TO FOSTERING THESE RELATIONSHIPS, AND HAS DEDICATED MEMBERSHIP SECTIONS FOR FELLOWS IN TRAINING AND EARLY CAREER PROFESSIONALS. LEARN MORE ABOUT THREE DISTINGUISHED INDIVIDUALS AND HOW THEY HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL AT FOSTERING RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE NEXT GENERATION OF CARDIOLOGISTS AND MEMBERS OF THE CARDIOVASCULAR CARE TEAM. Distinguished Teacher Offers Advice on Critical Thinking and Proactive Passion Gary Francis, MD, FACC, understands how quietly incidental the path from student to professional can feel when you’re taking your first steps. “I had a football coach that taught kinesiology at my high school,” says Francis. “I had no idea there are things like ergoreceptors, and so I got interested in biology. My teacher in retrospect was very inspiring. I don’t think he knew it at the time but he really turned me on to biology, and I decided medicine might be a good fit.” Having had a remarkable early career, first as an investigator helping renown scientist Jay Cohn, MD, FACC, establish the critical role of neurohormonal stimulation in heart failure and the therapies to inhibit it, then as the head of clinical cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, Francis now finds himself on the other side of that influential student-teacher dynamic working as a professor of medicine at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota. According to Francis, who was honored with the ACC’s Distinguished Teaching Award at ACC.14 in Washington, DC, one of the best parts of teaching early-career medical professionals is being surrounded by fresh perspectives and new energy. “They can be very inspiring,” he notes. “Since they don’t have a huge knowledge base, they really can ask very direct questions like, ‘How do you know this true?’ And you can’t just say, ‘It’s true because everyone says it’s true,’ you have to find the original source. And they really can stimulate you to challenge the dogma.” While Francis confides that luck and being in the right place and at the right time will ultimately have a tremendous impact on where his students’ career trajectory will take them, just as it did with his own, the veteran cardiologist still advocates for the influence of proactive passion – pulling together what you love and what you’re good at into something you can do for the rest of your life. It’s in this area that Francis also says mentors can play a major role. “Early career medical students need mentors,” says Francis. “I cannot overstate the importance of it. Dr. Cohn was my mentor. He means so much to me even now. He’s still doing research, and he’ll probably never stop. He’s highly intellectualized, creative, has great ideas and still gives me good advice. It’s very helpful. You have to have somebody.” In addition to a mentor, or mentors, Francis also says it’s important for those in the early stages of their careers to surround themselves “with really good people.” A stable community of individuals with similar interests, coupled with a good mentor and an environment where critical thinking is encouraged, is a recipe for success. Gifted Educator Shares the Secret to Captivating Students Like many veteran physicians in pediatric cardiology, Jacqueline Noonan, MD, FACC, entered the field at a time when so much of the understanding of congenital heart disease was still in the infancy stage, and the diagnosis of particular defects relied on a much more intuitive touch. Before the days of an echocardiogram (echo) eliminated any kind of mystery from the equation, Noonan relied only on a patient’s history (or lack thereof), a physical exam, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and an X-ray to determine their particular ailment, a process she says she enjoyed “because it was like being a detective.” Noonan got so accustomed to this diagnostic approach that even when an echo became an available tool, she would still go through her old method first. “I remember the last time I was ever on-call,” says Noonan. “At the time I had been retired but when the person that had taken my place left, I was asked to be acting chief until the new hire took over. So it was my last night on call and I was just getting into bed when the phone rang. They said, ‘We’ve got a baby over here that has some kind of heart problem.’ I got dressed again and came into the hospital. I looked at the X-ray and EKG and then listened to the baby. I said to one of the residents standing around, ‘Well the baby sounds like he has a truncus. There’s a lot of truncal insufficiency.’ They were so surprised because nobody else would ever say what they thought before they got the echo. But the echo tech came and put the probe on, and the baby had a truncus with truncal insufficiency. One of the interns said to me, ‘Well Dr. Noonan next time we’ll just hold the baby up to the telephone.’” Though officially retired, Noonan continues to emphasize this attentive, patient-first approach as Professor Emerita at Lexington’s University of Kentucky, her occupational base since 1961. Having already been recognized numerous times for her professional contributions – including being the first to describe hypoplastic left heart syndrome and Noonan syndrome (a name she admits she did not coin) – it was Noonan’s ongoing role as an teacher that landed her with her most recent honor, the Gifted Educator Award at the ACC.14 in Washington, DC. “It is rewarding when you teach somebody and you see the light go on in their brain and they are able to do something they weren’t able to do,” says Noonan. “Knowing you played a role in it is very gratifying.” Much like the detective she was trying to be in her early career, Noonan explains that having a sense of wonder and fun in one’s job is crucially component. “You have to convey your enthusiasm to your audience – your students – so that they’ll listen and pay attention,” she notes. “And hopefully you can teach in a way that they’ll learn. I’m still trying to encourage them to not only be good doctors but to meaningfully contribute to the future. There’s still a lot to learn.” Cultivating Career Development: A Distinguished Mentor Reflects on Years of Teaching Even in the hands of a veteran electrophysiologist such as himself, Fred Morady, MD, FACC, is fully aware of the complications that can occur when treating a cardiac arrhythmia with ablation. As someone who regularly provides hands-on instruction on proper surgical technique to still-intraining fellows, Morady endures the benefit of even more unnecessary risk. “Fortunately,” says Morady, “I’ve had a very good knack for selecting very talented people to work with me.” Spending his entire career working at the University of Michigan’s Clinical Electrophysiology Laboratory since 1984, and serving as its director until 2007, Morady has spent years teaching fellows-in-training the groundbreaking methods he helped pioneer in treating various heart rhythm disorders. With specialists at University of Michigan today performing over 1,000 such procedures each year – making the facility a national and international leader in the treatment of life-threatening arrhythmia – Morady has continually demonstrated his skill as an educator through the success of his students. “At the beginning of the year they have no clue as to what’s going on,” says Morady of each new batch of eager fellows. “Hopefully by the end of two years they get most things right. I always show them cases that are difficult enough that they don’t know what’s going on, and that’s how they learn. That’s how they expand their knowledge.” Reflecting on the close relationship he had with his own mentor, Mel Scheinman, MD, FACC, who invented the field of catheter ablation and performed its first procedure in 1981, Morady keeps his students within constant proximity to promote their lessons. “I interact a lot with my students,” says Morady. “On the days that I work in the electrophysiology laboratory, at the end of the day I always have teaching rounds where we go over interesting cases, and we work very closely together.” Honoring his ongoing enthusiasm for teaching, Morady was recently presented with a Distinguished Mentor Award at ACC.14. While he has a great deal of pride in the large amount of clinical research he’s done and the lives he’s saved, Morady has just as much pride for his former fellows-in-training who have gone on to have very successful careers, including several who are now directors of their own electrophysiology programs. “I like to think that their time with me contributed to their successes,” says Morady. “I don’t think the role of a mentor is to push anyone into a path. If the person doesn’t have that internal motivation to work in a certain field and become proficient, I don’t think a mentor would have a major impact. I think the times when mentorship is most important is when you have someone who is very motivated and very interested and succeeds in the field, and the mentor guides them in the right direction and provides training and ideas to help in the career development of that individual.” The ACC is calling for mentors and mentees to enroll in its new Mentoring Program. Developed by leaders of the Early Career Professional Section as a benefit of ACC membership, the program provides mentees with knowledgeable mentors based on their interest areas or career and professional development needs. The ACC’s online mentoring portal, powered by the HEALTHeCAREERS Network, connects cardiovascular practitioners, researchers and faculty members so they can form relationships that will enhance their skillset and promote intellectual growth. Learn more at CardioSource.org/Mentoring.
Published by American College of Cardiology. View All Articles.
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