Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Trying to figure out what kind of doctor you should become? Wondering what specialty you should choose? Then SheMD's Why Specialty Series is perfect for you! We're bringing you female physicians sharing WHY they chose their specialty. Today's post is on why Dr. Feigofsky chose the field of cardiology and why cardiology is a great field.
I am the first in my family to go to medical school. I feel fortunate in that I had no expectations of what my medical school experience was going to be like, nor did I have any experience of what a doctor’s life should look like.
As a student, I found myself drawn to the operating room. In the OR the entire team must work together to achieve a good outcome. Akin to listening to a symphony, if one instrument is out of tune, or out of rhythm, the entire piece is forever changed. I quickly learned that I was skilled at suturing and I enjoyed the stepwise approach to an operation. It required incredible focus, and also an ability to be able to react quickly to an unexpected outcome. The energy was intoxicating, and I could not get enough.
What I also learned about myself during my medical school journey is that I loved the doctor-patient relationship. I love the bond that forms, and I truly enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life, that I might not otherwise encounter. I got as much out of knowing my patients as I did from treating their illness. I also knew that I did not want to spend all day, every day in a clinic.
I often joke that every cardiologist wanted to be a surgeon.
Being a cardiologist allows me to combine the two things I enjoy most about medicine: a long-term patient relationship and procedures.
Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about the lack of women in cardiology and how should we encourage women to join our specialty. I never really thought about my gender when I decided on my specialty. Rather, I focused on what I loved and what I was passionate about. I was also honest with myself about what I disliked. Surprisingly, I spent a lot of time torn between critical care medicine and cardiology. I suppose it was the procedure aspect that confused me, but I if were REALLY honest with myself, there would be zero debate because I cannot stand sputum, and the sound of suction makes me gag immediately.
Rather than debate about why women should choose cardiology, I thought I would share with you some of the reasons that I think cardiology is an awesome specialty:
Name it, you can do it. You could practice general cardiology, invasive but not interventional, interventional, structural, electrophysiology, heart failure, cardiac imaging…. You get my point. The sky is the limit!!! Because of the diversity within our field, I think it allows you to really create a niche. Cardiology does not have to be coming in at all hours of the night to treat a STEMI, unless that’s what you want it to be. Yes, during fellowship you must do this, but it doesn’t have to be the rest of your life.
Immediate Gratification. One of the BEST aspects of cardiology is that we make patients better quickly. Crushing chest pain due to a heart attack? We can fix that. Palpitations and near syncope from a tachy-arrhythmia? We can fix that. Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy with a left bundle and heart failure? We can fix that! Fatigued and falling because your heart rate is 30 bpm? WE CAN FIX THAT!
Job Security. Let’s be honest. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women. Although I would love for this statistic to change, it is not going to anytime in the near future. The obesity epidemic is growing, and with it comes hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Cardiologists are always needed and will always be in demand. It is likely that you will be able to find a job after training in a location that you desire.
Continued learning. Our knowledge about cardiovascular physiology continues to grow. As physicians, I love that we have life-long learning. The practice of cardiology is incredibly dynamic. When I reflect on how much cardiology has changed since I completed my fellowship in 2004, it is mind-blowing. The stent technology continues to change rapidly, we are now replacing valves in the catheterization lab, and we have leadless pacemakers!
Every day is unique. For me, doing the same thing all day, every day was not something I wanted. As an electrophysiologist, there are a multitude of procedures that I can do, and a varied number of diagnoses that I see on a daily basis. No two days are the same, and quite honesty I thrive on that. I am more interested in devices than ablation, and I have about a dozen other colleagues who would love to do ablation. I can focus on what I am interested in and still have a successful and thriving practice.
Cardiology isn’t for everyone, but it isn’t only for men. I am married and have children. Do I struggle to try and make that work? ABSOLUTELY!! But I guarantee you that women of ALL specialties struggle just as much as I do.
Follow your passion.
Find your purpose.
Do what you love.
The rest will fall into place.