What should emerging cardiology leaders know? 5 industry leaders weigh in

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From crafting stronger physician-patient relationships to avoiding over-reliance on technology, here's advice five cardiology leaders recently shared on Becker's cardiology and heart surgery podcast. 

Editor's note: Responses are presented in alphabetical order and have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity. 

Mark Burket, MD. Director of Vascular Medicine at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio: One of the most important things that I would pass on, if somebody is just getting into leadership, is to think about the long game of your career. Instead of looking at what can get me the most money or the most recognition right now, think in terms of the people that you interact with now — some of those people you're going to be interacting with throughout your entire career. At our cardiovascular practice, I remember one physician in particular who was moving on to another practice. And before he left, he volunteered for extra work. He did so much that he didn't need to because he was leaving the practice. But I can tell you if he ever wanted to come back to the practice, we would have taken him in a heartbeat. Go through your career with that mindset of how you can help other people and realize that down the road, they may be in some other environment where you may want to collaborate or interact with them. So make sure that you help people along the way and don't worry about what it's going to do to your career or to your finances. 

Joseph Carrozza, MD. Vice president of cardiovascular medicine at Dallas-based Steward Health Care: Learn how to take ownership of your patient's care. I'm an interventional cardiologist, so I do procedures, but I think it's important that my patient doesn't just view me as some sort of technologist who's going to do the procedure today and then move on to someone else. If you build a relationship with your patient and the family, they will trust you, and it's a lot easier to get them to work with you on therapies that sometimes are scary. Or sometimes it's hard to convince somebody why it's important to take two cholesterol-lowering medicines when they feel fine. If you have that relationship with your patient and their families, they're more likely to work with you to manage their disease rather than feeling like, "OK, he's going to dictate to me what needs to be done, and I'm not part of the team."

Michelle Crain, MSN, RN. Vice president of the cardiovascular service line, administrator and COO Of Heart Hospital of Lafayette (La.): From a leadership perspective, you also have to be present. And that's something I believe in as a nurse practitioner. I come to work in scrubs fairly often. I round on the floor. I'll carry the resource phone. I think it's important that the staff are seeing me be on the campus and out and about. You set the example from the top. We're very blessed on this particular campus, as we've been at the 99th percentile for patient satisfaction and patient engagement for at least my whole seven years here. It's something that we all strive for.  

Dr. Umesh Gidwani, MD. Director of the cardiac intensive care unit at New York City-based Mount Sinai Medical Center: Invest in your teams, build your teams … because that's really the only way to improve the patient experience. No machine is going to improve the patient experience. The patient experience even today is how you talk to the patient. Were you attentive to the patient? Were you able to understand their fears, their concerns? Were you able to allay those? Were you able to make sure that the patient understood that on discharge, these are the things that need to get done? Were they able to understand that this is how easily they can reach you or your team to invest in your team? 


Nancy Sweitzer, MD, PhD. Director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center and chief of cardiology at the University of Arizona Health Services in Tucson: I'm a female cardiologist, which is a very underrepresented demographic. Cardiology has been really quite poor at improving diversity in our workforce. I have spent a lot of time in the last year educating myself about the issues around diversity and realize that it's not about trying to understand diversity from where you sit, but about putting yourself into the lived experience of others and trying to understand that. I think what started this for me was The New York Times' 1619 project and really understanding the implications of systemic racism and how they're built into our society. And then starting to think about how I can understand the lived experience of my underrepresented faculty and start to change the culture around that. If you're an emerging leader, you have to pay attention — particularly in cardiovascular disciplines — to the issues of discrimination and disparities in our profession.

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