American Heart Association Annual Scientific Sessions 2016: Nurturing Lifelong Mentoring Relationships

As we evolve into sub-specialized cardiologists, focusing on our chosen cardiovascular sub-specialty, we gradually get distanced from the broader cardiovascular specialty meetings, gravitating more toward our sub-specialty annual Scientific Sessions in interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, heart failure and cardiovascular imaging.


Fortuitously for me in 2016, I got an opportunity to attend the American Heart Association's (AHA) annual Scientific Sessions in the Big Easy, thanks to AHA’s Early Career Blogging Program. What I took away from the sessions was priceless. Yes, there was cutting-edge science, but in the 24x7 connected world that we live in, there is easy access to cutting-edge science presented at the sessions from various social media outlets, journal and professional society websites, and medical news websites through portable electronic devices. What’s priceless though are personal one-on-one interactions with colleagues, peers and mentors. Even though they last for several minutes, the face value garners a lot of what I call “career currency.” And the 24x7 social media connectivity may not get one the invaluable “career currency.”


For example, it was priceless to spend one-on-one quality time with Dr. Duane S. Pinto, discussing career paths and future disposition, and how he envisions my career unfold. The byproduct of the meeting was the live audio feed for my previous blog on PIONEER AF-PCI. Through another fortuitous occurrence, I shared the flight back to Houston with my mentor and Principal Investigator of the mega-trial (PIONEER AF-PCI), Dr. C. Michael Gibson, who inquired about my well-being and was gracious to spend time at the pre-boarding, discussing my future career plans. In another chance meeting with Dr. Ajay J. Kirtane at the sessions, we spent time interacting about our recent Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions paper with Drs. Pinto and Deepak L. Bhatt, discussing about its ramifications, the attention it has garnered, and how the pathways for training in interventional cardiology keep evolving. He also graciously inquired about future career plans and offered insights into what’s important to observe and inquire, as one approaches job interviews and ponders about carving a niche for oneself in this highly-competitive, highly-talented field of invasive cardiologists, clinical researchers and basic scientists. On another note, I also had an opportunity to rekindle conversations with my career ideal, Dr. Robert W. Yeh, and discuss about the progress on our collaborative paper on coronary stents, and evolution of his work at the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at my Alma Mater.


The underlying message citing these personal examples is the opportunity large cardiovascular meetings like AHA Scientific Sessions provide for fellows-in-training and early career physicians — an incredible venue to meet in person with mentors, and rekindle old ties. Every one-on-one interaction gradually garners the crucial “career currency” that is not only vital for success in the professional sphere, but is equally important in emotional and personal growth as a physician, a collaborator and more importantly a fine person. As we all get sub-specialized, it is important to reserve time for one such large cardiovascular meeting (other than our sub-specialty meetings) to keep banking our “career currency.”

Ankur Kalra, MD

Advanced Interventional and Structural Cardiology, Houston Methodist
DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX
Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY
Safety, Quality, Informatics and Leadership, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Ankur is an advanced interventional and structural cardiology fellow at Houston Methodist Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College. He served as a clinical and research fellow in interventional cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School in 2015-16. His research is focused on cardiovascular care quality improvement in low- and middle-income countries, and works in collaboration with the American College of Cardiology (Washington, DC) for the PINNACLE (Practice Innovation and Clinical Excellence) India Quality Improvement Program (PIQIP). Follow him on Twitter @AnkurKalraMD

Posted by Ankur Kalra on Dec 16, 2016 1:34 PM America/Chicago