Dr Kathryn Waddell-Smith is a final-year advanced cardiology trainee at Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide
Why did you decide on cardiology?
Cardiology was my first rotation as a physician trainee, and over the next three years nothing surpassed the experience. I loved the thrill of acute medicine, of intervening and having an immediate outcome. I enjoyed the mix of acute/chronic, young/old patients, and having a group of patients who often wanted the same outcomes as the physicians. My bosses were passionate, intelligent and wonderful teachers, and the nurses were dynamic and caring.
Was it difficult to get onto the cardiology training program?
All disciplines look for candidates who have demonstrated a high level of personal and professional integrity and work ethic during their basic training. It is also important to show your commitment to research. For most specialties, you will get a job in your desired field somewhere, but if you want to train at a large teaching hospital, it is more competitive and your CV and interview need to show that you have consultant intentions.
What have you loved about the training program?
I’ve loved realising that I’m in the right field. The feeling of belonging is wonderful. I have marvelled at my rapid learning curve, both in knowledge and skills. Despite sometimes being tired and overworked, I am happy — work is interesting, evidence based, challenging, fulfilling and fun.
What have been the main obstacles/challenges?
The balance between working, learning, publishing, sleeping, exercising, running a house and spending time with family and friends is difficult and sometimes seems impossible. However, it is a training program and you are being trained for life, not just to be a cardiologist 8 am to 5 pm.
What advice do you have for doctors interested in cardiology?
If you enjoy your cardiology rotation, this stimulating and rewarding specialty is well worth investigating. The best course would be to speak to a cardiologist for an honest opinion. The diverse group of consultants at my hospital all enjoy their work. There is so much potential in cardiology — a regular-hours rooms-based clinician, 24/7 interventionalist, teacher, researcher, advocate and policymaker, anything at all!
What are your plans after the training program?
I’m in my third year of training and have started a research higher degree, studying adults with congenital heart disease. I’ve been amazed that in cardiology, among all the highly evidence-based practice and huge patient populations, I have found a small group of patients for whom more research and care is needed. I hope to gain experience in managing this growing population through a clinical fellowship. Eventually, I hope to come back to Australasia and help the dedicated clinicians already looking after this group of people.
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