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Oct 31, 2018

Four ways being a cardiologist is changing (and one way it isn’t)

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

Compared to only five or 10 years ago, the way we approach patient care has changed dramatically. This has never been more evident than in the field of cardiology, where we’re seeing a rise in patients facing cardiovascular disease, with the projected number of deaths expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030, from 17.7 million alone in 2015. , 

 

However, we’re also experiencing an equally growing rate of new innovations in technology, helping to address this rising number. Fortunately, this also means that with new innovation, comes a new generation of young professionals and cardiologists, learning new skills and approaches to providing patient care.

 

We spoke to Dr. Luca Testa, the Head of Coronary Revascularization Unit and Head of the Clinical Research Unit at the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato in Milan, Italy, on his advice for the next-generation of cardiologists for quickly adapting to a workplace that puts progress, integration and new innovation at its core.

The right start matters, more than ever…

Of course, the start of someone’s career has always mattered. But today, with the competition in cardiology so intense, it’s more important than ever to get the best training, with the best people.
A female doctor is explaining something to a group of healthcare professionals

For me, after my degree and residency, this meant a two-year fellowship in Oxford, UK. Here, ten years ago, I spent 50% of my time in a cath lab practicing on patients and learning the latest clinical techniques. The other 50% of my time was spent doing clinical research, complementing the work I was doing in the lab by helping me navigate the latest research and data in the field of cardiology from some of the brightest minds at the time. These were invaluable opportunities that provided me with great mentorship, and ultimately, helped me in the direction to where I am today.

 

Today, reflecting back, I realize it’s not just a matter of learning the techniques – though obviously that matters – but good mentorship is also key; it’s a matter of mentality, of approach, of understanding. If we want to ensure the next-generation of cardiologists continue to do a good job, we must continue to show them.

It’s a matter of mentality, of approach, of understanding. If we want to ensure the next-generation of cardiologists continue to do a good job, we must continue to show them.

Dr. Luca Testa

Head of Coronary Revascularization Unit and Clinical Research Unit, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato

…So does knowledge-sharing

As a career evolves, the people and one-on-one interaction, still matter. You may not need your mentor in the same way, but you certainly still need others and will continuously find yourself learning something new from them, even 15 years into your career.

 

With this in mind, networking in cardiology is becoming more and more important. Not only is it a way of ensuring funding, grants, faculty invitations; it’s a way of ensuring the industry as a whole keeps developing.

 

Knowledge-sharing is now easier than ever, thanks to everything from electronic health records (EHR), data and social sites like LinkedIn, and this spreading of ideas is critical to keeping cardiology moving forward – whether you’re the one doing the teaching, or learning.

Close-up of a female healthcare professional wearing a face mask, as she’s checking on a patient

Technology isn’t impacting just one part of cardiology, it’s impacting all facets of practice…

Technology has been around for a long time, but we’re only just beginning to witness how much it’s going to impact our working lives. I believe most of what we now do in our daily jobs is going to be obsolete in about five years’ time. The speed of new technologies, techniques and devices is so fast that you have no choice but to keep up with the pace.

 

This isn’t scary though, it’s exciting – and for younger cardiologists, who’ve grown up around technology, it’ll be second nature.

…Especially in structural disease

Probably the largest impact of technology so far has been the introduction of the transcatheter approach to treat aortic stenosis. This wasn’t technology making an existing procedure better, it was creating a whole new procedure, letting us treat patients we’d never been able to before. Meeting such a huge clinical need has been revolutionary, and the field of treatment for structural disease is going to keep growing.

 

I am excited and intrigued to see what the next revolutionary innovation will be.

Close-up profile of a surgeon working, in the middle of a procedure

For all the things that are changing, one thing never will

I couldn’t do my job without technology, but also, the technology couldn’t do it without me. The bottom line of all cardiology care is – and always will be – clinical judgement. We may do our jobs using different tools, but the essence of care and human input remains. In some instances, I’m still using the same approaches as I did when I was a fellow, just with new technologies.

 

For people starting out in the field of cardiology, they may have more of these technologies to start with, but they too will use the same thought processes, and same human judgement, as we always have.

 

1 WHO. About cardiovascular diseases. Available at http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/about_cvd/en/. Accessed March 2018.

2 WHO. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/. Accessed March 2018.

About Innovation Matters

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization. From interviews with industry giants to how-to guides and features powered by Philips data, our goal is to deliver interesting, educational and entertaining content to empower and inspire all those who work in healthcare or related industries.

 

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Bert van Meurs

Dr. Luca Testa

Head of Coronary Revascularization Unit and Clinical Research Unit, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato

Dr. Luca Testa is Head of the Coronary Revascularization Unit and Head of the Clinical Research Unit at the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato in Milan, Italy.

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