The ACC, as part of its five-year strategic plan, is on a mission to recruit, engage and develop the next generation of cardiovascular professionals. The College and local ACC Chapters are working to meet these goals despite a diverse and rapidly changing health care and workforce environment. While some states have a healthy and robust incoming workforce, other states face imminent shortages of cardiovascular providers. For example, in West Virginia results from the College’s Cardiovascular Practice Census, show the vast majority of cardiologists have been in practice for over 20 years. This is compared to a 44 percent incidence of this seniority nationally. The average cardiologist in West Virginia is at least four years older than the national average, and there are more solo practitioners and fewer cardiovascular groups in the state than others. The majority of West Virginia’s solo practitioners have not made changes in response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ reimbursement issues and noted that they do not plan to do so. “This leads to the logical conclusion that many of these older, experienced physicians are biding their time in anticipation of simply retiring,” said Paulette Wehner, MD, FACC, governor of the West Virginia Chapter. “This will leave a significant vacuum in care and a potential manpower shortage in the near future.” The West Virginia Chapter chose to face this workforce crisis head on, and to ensure continuity of care for West Virginia cardiovascular patients, the Chapter made an expanded commitment to involving the next generation of cardiovascular professionals in Chapter activities. “We realized the importance of engaging internal medicine residents early on,” said Wehner. “The goal is to have them choose cardiology as their specialty and remain in West Virginia to practice.” Enter the Internal Medicine Resident Poster Competition, launched by the Chapter in an effort to provide residents with networking opportunities, as well as expose them to the excitement and energy of a West Virginia ACC Chapter event. In order to drum up involvement, Wehner contacted each of the internal medicine residency program directors in the state and invited their residents to participate in the residency poster competition that would take place at the Chapter’s annual meeting. The Chapter also sent invitations to the residents across the state several times throughout the summer. The call for posters resulted in six poster presentations, and presenters were further engaged as guest speaker Patrick T. O’Gara, MD, FACC, president of the ACC, Council members and Fellow in Training (FIT) Chapter members all worked to connect with each of the residents. Wehner noted that the enthusiasm from the residents was palpable – and one of the resident’s program coordinators even asked how they could register the resident for the ACC’s Annual Scientific Sessions. “The poster competition had a clear mission,” said Wehner. “We certainly believe that there will be several residents who may choose the cardiology career path as a result of this innovative initiative.” ACC’s Connecticut Chapter has also set a Chapter-wide goal to increase involvement among FITs and early career cardiovascular professionals, holding a similar poster session and competition at their recently reinvented annual Chapter meeting. The meeting also featured key lectures of interest to trainees and drew FITs and program directors from across the state. According to Edward Tuohy, MD, FACC, governor of the College’s Connecticut Chapter, council involvement from FITs is imperative. “We routinely have two fellows sit on our council, sourced from the training programs in Connecticut such as Yale University, University of Connecticut, Bridgeport and Danbury Hospitals,” he said. “This involvement has led to a significant increase in involvement among fellows.” Tuohy believes that Connecticut’s diverse offerings for FITs to further get involved have bolstered engagement overall, but continued involvement across the ACC is key to progress. He says that in order to have bidirectional communication, it is essential for fellows to participate in Chapter councils. He also notes that in order to have a next generation of effective communicators to legislators, early career professionals must begin learning the ropes of advocacy. He praises the ingenuity and dedication of early career professional energy in ACC and Chapter public health initiatives. “We want FITs to understand the importance of involvement as they begin their careers,” he said. “It is easy to become busy with life and work and forget that you can make a difference within the ACC. It is our job to remind those early on in their career that they can be incredibly impactful – and show them how to do it.”
Published by American College of Cardiology. View All Articles.