FastWave Interview Dawn Abbott
FastWave Interview Dawn Abbott
FastWave Interview Dawn Abbott

Interview with Dr. J. Dawn Abbott

Dr. J. Dawn Abbott is a leading figure in interventional cardiology, with advanced experience in percutaneous coronary intervention and arterial disease. She shares her valuable insights into mentorship, overcoming challenges, career development, networking, how to approach clinical trials, and tips for negotiating new opportunities for newly-minted fellows.

Dr. J. Dawn Abbott is currently serving as a Professor of Medicine and the Associate Chief of Faculty Development and Academic Advancement in the Division of Cardiology at the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute. She also holds the titles of Director of Interventional Cardiology and Director of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at both Rhode Island and Miriam Hospitals.

She was Director of the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Training Program at Brown University until 2022 and is renowned for her expertise in complex coronary interventions.

Dr. Abbott has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and her research, focusing on improving patient outcomes in coronary and endovascular interventions, is backed by the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Cardiology. 

In this discussion, which has been edited for brevity, Dr. Abbott delves into her professional journey, lessons from her early days as a fellow, tips for those starting out in the field and women in particular, the importance of finding mentors and learning continuously, red flags to avoid when signing employment contracts, and her attitude towards balancing work and life.

Shortly after you completed your fellowship, was there an area that you felt you lacked sufficient training or experience?

Leaving fellowship, you often think you know everything, when in fact you don’t have much experience and you're just at the beginning of your career. I was trained to become a translational researcher in clinical cardiology and was trying to figure out how to merge those two to develop my own career. 

I wish there were more opportunities during my fellowship to learn more about designing clinical trials or translating preclinical research into the clinic. When you're so focused on the innovation part, it can be really hard to grasp practical skills, such as what resources do you need? Who do you talk to? Who do you collaborate with when you're designing a trial? That's something I slowly learned over time as a junior faculty member.

Many medical residents and fellows leave training feeling like they’re not prepared for primetime. Have you ever experienced such a moment and how did you overcome it?

I believe in continuous learning and seeking multiple perspectives and opinions. Do not feel the pressure to have all the answers right off the bat. Beyond that, when you’re starting out, you simply can’t take on all the responsibility. There's no shame in asking for help. In that regard, open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity can improve your expertise a lot. There's a little art to medicine, it’s not just science. Enjoy learning from people who know more than you.

But sometimes, you need to make quick decisions when there’s no one else around. In those situations, rely on your knowledge, your training, and your instinct. But in most circumstances, you have the time to stop and ask for opinions. 

You've authored or co-authored a lot of published, peer-reviewed articles. How would you recommend a fellow get involved with clinical trials and/or establish collaborative research with other specialists?

Fellows should proactively identify their interests when approaching mentors for research opportunities. It's hard to really delve in and put a lot of effort into something that doesn’t excite you. So, understand what you aim to gain, regardless of whether it’s knowledge in trial design, putting together clinical research forms, or a publication. Be an active mentee. Look for people who are doing things similar to your interests and network extensively. For instance, when I first got to Brown, I spent six to twelve months meeting researchers whose interests might overlap with mine.

A lot of those meetings didn't result in long-term collaborations, but they gave me the lay of the land and what the resources were at Brown. Then, I was able to hone in on who could help me. Research requires effort; you have to be willing to do the legwork.

Coming out of fellowship, were there any business-of-healthcare concepts you wish you had a better grasp on?

Absolutely. I accepted my first job with a one-page contract, which was basically: here's your salary and here's what's expected of you. But this isn’t the norm. You have to understand your value and how physician compensation works, even if you're not paid on an RVU system. It may be very different if you're employed in academia, employed by a medical school, or, like in my case, employed by a hospital system. For example, even though I'm in academia, I'm employed by the Lifespan Hospital system. 

So salaries vary, but so do benefits. For instance, being an educator has more intangible benefits rather than financial rewards. So look at each thing you're asked to do, or that you decide to do, and assign a value to it. Not necessarily a monetary value. But this exercise will help you determine what is valuable to you, personally. So it’s up to each individual to decide what they value.

It’s also important to feel valued. If you feel valued, you'll likely be happier at work. 

Do you think such business acumen is gained through experience? Or, are there any resources that you would recommend to fellows so they can get a better understanding of more business-oriented topics?

Direct, one-on-one mentorship really helps you understand the nuances of any new role or responsibility you take on. Whether you're considering joining a committee or assuming a leadership position, it's beneficial to seek guidance from those who've been in your shoes. They can offer a perspective on whether a particular commitment aligns with your career goals or might end up being an unwarranted use of your time. This insight is particularly useful for junior faculty members who often face the pressure to accept every offer that comes their way.

So – it's important to be discerning and to consult with your mentoring team before taking on new tasks. This approach allows you to deflect less strategic tasks without personal reproach. For instance, taking meeting minutes might seem like something trivial that doesn’t lead to career advancement, and these sorts of tasks fall disproportionately more to women, reinforcing certain stereotypes.

Women, in particular, should be cautious as they may be assigned roles that don't offer as many rewards or as much career progression. Always consult someone who has had a similar role to gauge its true value. Moreover, before agreeing to any commitment, assess what skills you'll acquire and who you might meet.

On the flip side, sometimes even seemingly menial tasks can lead to unexpected opportunities, like meeting a future collaborator. That's why it's essential to evaluate every opportunity not only for the immediate benefit but also for the skills it might help you develop, the networks it might help you build, and the future collaboration it might engender.

But – back to dealing with offers. Taking ownership is key once you commit to a role. Failing to deliver due to overcommitment reflects poorly on you, not on the volume of work. Poor execution will tarnish your reputation, and excuses won't salvage it. 

It's a delicate balance in terms of managing commitments and knowing when to say 'no.' I suggest that you consult your own support network, including spouses, friends and colleagues, to help you gauge your capacity and prevent overextension or overcommitment. It's all about managing your involvement effectively to foster growth without compromising your wellbeing.

Dr. J. Dawn Abbott is currently serving as a Professor of Medicine and the Associate Chief of Faculty Development and Academic Advancement in the Division of Cardiology at the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute. She also holds the titles of Director of Interventional Cardiology and Director of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at both Rhode Island and Miriam Hospitals.

She was Director of the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Training Program at Brown University until 2022 and is renowned for her expertise in complex coronary interventions.

Dr. Abbott has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and her research, focusing on improving patient outcomes in coronary and endovascular interventions, is backed by the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Cardiology. 

In this discussion, which has been edited for brevity, Dr. Abbott delves into her professional journey, lessons from her early days as a fellow, tips for those starting out in the field and women in particular, the importance of finding mentors and learning continuously, red flags to avoid when signing employment contracts, and her attitude towards balancing work and life.

Shortly after you completed your fellowship, was there an area that you felt you lacked sufficient training or experience?

Leaving fellowship, you often think you know everything, when in fact you don’t have much experience and you're just at the beginning of your career. I was trained to become a translational researcher in clinical cardiology and was trying to figure out how to merge those two to develop my own career. 

I wish there were more opportunities during my fellowship to learn more about designing clinical trials or translating preclinical research into the clinic. When you're so focused on the innovation part, it can be really hard to grasp practical skills, such as what resources do you need? Who do you talk to? Who do you collaborate with when you're designing a trial? That's something I slowly learned over time as a junior faculty member.

Many medical residents and fellows leave training feeling like they’re not prepared for primetime. Have you ever experienced such a moment and how did you overcome it?

I believe in continuous learning and seeking multiple perspectives and opinions. Do not feel the pressure to have all the answers right off the bat. Beyond that, when you’re starting out, you simply can’t take on all the responsibility. There's no shame in asking for help. In that regard, open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity can improve your expertise a lot. There's a little art to medicine, it’s not just science. Enjoy learning from people who know more than you.

But sometimes, you need to make quick decisions when there’s no one else around. In those situations, rely on your knowledge, your training, and your instinct. But in most circumstances, you have the time to stop and ask for opinions. 

You've authored or co-authored a lot of published, peer-reviewed articles. How would you recommend a fellow get involved with clinical trials and/or establish collaborative research with other specialists?

Fellows should proactively identify their interests when approaching mentors for research opportunities. It's hard to really delve in and put a lot of effort into something that doesn’t excite you. So, understand what you aim to gain, regardless of whether it’s knowledge in trial design, putting together clinical research forms, or a publication. Be an active mentee. Look for people who are doing things similar to your interests and network extensively. For instance, when I first got to Brown, I spent six to twelve months meeting researchers whose interests might overlap with mine.

A lot of those meetings didn't result in long-term collaborations, but they gave me the lay of the land and what the resources were at Brown. Then, I was able to hone in on who could help me. Research requires effort; you have to be willing to do the legwork.

Coming out of fellowship, were there any business-of-healthcare concepts you wish you had a better grasp on?

Absolutely. I accepted my first job with a one-page contract, which was basically: here's your salary and here's what's expected of you. But this isn’t the norm. You have to understand your value and how physician compensation works, even if you're not paid on an RVU system. It may be very different if you're employed in academia, employed by a medical school, or, like in my case, employed by a hospital system. For example, even though I'm in academia, I'm employed by the Lifespan Hospital system. 

So salaries vary, but so do benefits. For instance, being an educator has more intangible benefits rather than financial rewards. So look at each thing you're asked to do, or that you decide to do, and assign a value to it. Not necessarily a monetary value. But this exercise will help you determine what is valuable to you, personally. So it’s up to each individual to decide what they value.

It’s also important to feel valued. If you feel valued, you'll likely be happier at work. 

Do you think such business acumen is gained through experience? Or, are there any resources that you would recommend to fellows so they can get a better understanding of more business-oriented topics?

Direct, one-on-one mentorship really helps you understand the nuances of any new role or responsibility you take on. Whether you're considering joining a committee or assuming a leadership position, it's beneficial to seek guidance from those who've been in your shoes. They can offer a perspective on whether a particular commitment aligns with your career goals or might end up being an unwarranted use of your time. This insight is particularly useful for junior faculty members who often face the pressure to accept every offer that comes their way.

So – it's important to be discerning and to consult with your mentoring team before taking on new tasks. This approach allows you to deflect less strategic tasks without personal reproach. For instance, taking meeting minutes might seem like something trivial that doesn’t lead to career advancement, and these sorts of tasks fall disproportionately more to women, reinforcing certain stereotypes.

Women, in particular, should be cautious as they may be assigned roles that don't offer as many rewards or as much career progression. Always consult someone who has had a similar role to gauge its true value. Moreover, before agreeing to any commitment, assess what skills you'll acquire and who you might meet.

On the flip side, sometimes even seemingly menial tasks can lead to unexpected opportunities, like meeting a future collaborator. That's why it's essential to evaluate every opportunity not only for the immediate benefit but also for the skills it might help you develop, the networks it might help you build, and the future collaboration it might engender.

But – back to dealing with offers. Taking ownership is key once you commit to a role. Failing to deliver due to overcommitment reflects poorly on you, not on the volume of work. Poor execution will tarnish your reputation, and excuses won't salvage it. 

It's a delicate balance in terms of managing commitments and knowing when to say 'no.' I suggest that you consult your own support network, including spouses, friends and colleagues, to help you gauge your capacity and prevent overextension or overcommitment. It's all about managing your involvement effectively to foster growth without compromising your wellbeing.

Dr. J. Dawn Abbott is currently serving as a Professor of Medicine and the Associate Chief of Faculty Development and Academic Advancement in the Division of Cardiology at the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute. She also holds the titles of Director of Interventional Cardiology and Director of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at both Rhode Island and Miriam Hospitals.

She was Director of the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Training Program at Brown University until 2022 and is renowned for her expertise in complex coronary interventions.

Dr. Abbott has over 200 peer-reviewed publications and her research, focusing on improving patient outcomes in coronary and endovascular interventions, is backed by the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Cardiology. 

In this discussion, which has been edited for brevity, Dr. Abbott delves into her professional journey, lessons from her early days as a fellow, tips for those starting out in the field and women in particular, the importance of finding mentors and learning continuously, red flags to avoid when signing employment contracts, and her attitude towards balancing work and life.

Shortly after you completed your fellowship, was there an area that you felt you lacked sufficient training or experience?

Leaving fellowship, you often think you know everything, when in fact you don’t have much experience and you're just at the beginning of your career. I was trained to become a translational researcher in clinical cardiology and was trying to figure out how to merge those two to develop my own career. 

I wish there were more opportunities during my fellowship to learn more about designing clinical trials or translating preclinical research into the clinic. When you're so focused on the innovation part, it can be really hard to grasp practical skills, such as what resources do you need? Who do you talk to? Who do you collaborate with when you're designing a trial? That's something I slowly learned over time as a junior faculty member.

Many medical residents and fellows leave training feeling like they’re not prepared for primetime. Have you ever experienced such a moment and how did you overcome it?

I believe in continuous learning and seeking multiple perspectives and opinions. Do not feel the pressure to have all the answers right off the bat. Beyond that, when you’re starting out, you simply can’t take on all the responsibility. There's no shame in asking for help. In that regard, open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity can improve your expertise a lot. There's a little art to medicine, it’s not just science. Enjoy learning from people who know more than you.

But sometimes, you need to make quick decisions when there’s no one else around. In those situations, rely on your knowledge, your training, and your instinct. But in most circumstances, you have the time to stop and ask for opinions. 

You've authored or co-authored a lot of published, peer-reviewed articles. How would you recommend a fellow get involved with clinical trials and/or establish collaborative research with other specialists?

Fellows should proactively identify their interests when approaching mentors for research opportunities. It's hard to really delve in and put a lot of effort into something that doesn’t excite you. So, understand what you aim to gain, regardless of whether it’s knowledge in trial design, putting together clinical research forms, or a publication. Be an active mentee. Look for people who are doing things similar to your interests and network extensively. For instance, when I first got to Brown, I spent six to twelve months meeting researchers whose interests might overlap with mine.

A lot of those meetings didn't result in long-term collaborations, but they gave me the lay of the land and what the resources were at Brown. Then, I was able to hone in on who could help me. Research requires effort; you have to be willing to do the legwork.

Coming out of fellowship, were there any business-of-healthcare concepts you wish you had a better grasp on?

Absolutely. I accepted my first job with a one-page contract, which was basically: here's your salary and here's what's expected of you. But this isn’t the norm. You have to understand your value and how physician compensation works, even if you're not paid on an RVU system. It may be very different if you're employed in academia, employed by a medical school, or, like in my case, employed by a hospital system. For example, even though I'm in academia, I'm employed by the Lifespan Hospital system. 

So salaries vary, but so do benefits. For instance, being an educator has more intangible benefits rather than financial rewards. So look at each thing you're asked to do, or that you decide to do, and assign a value to it. Not necessarily a monetary value. But this exercise will help you determine what is valuable to you, personally. So it’s up to each individual to decide what they value.

It’s also important to feel valued. If you feel valued, you'll likely be happier at work. 

Do you think such business acumen is gained through experience? Or, are there any resources that you would recommend to fellows so they can get a better understanding of more business-oriented topics?

Direct, one-on-one mentorship really helps you understand the nuances of any new role or responsibility you take on. Whether you're considering joining a committee or assuming a leadership position, it's beneficial to seek guidance from those who've been in your shoes. They can offer a perspective on whether a particular commitment aligns with your career goals or might end up being an unwarranted use of your time. This insight is particularly useful for junior faculty members who often face the pressure to accept every offer that comes their way.

So – it's important to be discerning and to consult with your mentoring team before taking on new tasks. This approach allows you to deflect less strategic tasks without personal reproach. For instance, taking meeting minutes might seem like something trivial that doesn’t lead to career advancement, and these sorts of tasks fall disproportionately more to women, reinforcing certain stereotypes.

Women, in particular, should be cautious as they may be assigned roles that don't offer as many rewards or as much career progression. Always consult someone who has had a similar role to gauge its true value. Moreover, before agreeing to any commitment, assess what skills you'll acquire and who you might meet.

On the flip side, sometimes even seemingly menial tasks can lead to unexpected opportunities, like meeting a future collaborator. That's why it's essential to evaluate every opportunity not only for the immediate benefit but also for the skills it might help you develop, the networks it might help you build, and the future collaboration it might engender.

But – back to dealing with offers. Taking ownership is key once you commit to a role. Failing to deliver due to overcommitment reflects poorly on you, not on the volume of work. Poor execution will tarnish your reputation, and excuses won't salvage it. 

It's a delicate balance in terms of managing commitments and knowing when to say 'no.' I suggest that you consult your own support network, including spouses, friends and colleagues, to help you gauge your capacity and prevent overextension or overcommitment. It's all about managing your involvement effectively to foster growth without compromising your wellbeing.

Fun, Insightful Interviews with the World's Brightest Physicians

Delivered straight to your inbox. Completely free. No spam.

Are there any tips that you can offer young, junior colleagues across other disciplines and specialties on how to establish professional relationships with people they didn't train with or are new in their ecosystem?

Don’t just rely on your institution for mentorship and opportunities. Branch out to national and even international societies, especially if you’re in a field like cardiology where we're really fortunate to have phenomenal societies and groups like the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI). Getting involved when you’re a fellow can provide a leg-up as these societies often have programs designed specifically for young professionals. There are people there who are interested in fellows education, and once you show your enthusiasm to contribute and volunteer, you’ll get more opportunities in the future.

For career transitions, I would say put yourself out there. Have a concise two-minute blurb about yourself and your career interests so you’re always ready for meaningful conversations. 

When you form bonds with colleagues who share your goals, it makes work feel less like a chore and more like a community. 

Essentially, working in a comfortable atmosphere can make all the difference. It’s great both for socialization opportunities, like casual dinners, and professional opportunities, like collaborative research projects.

Are there red flags to consider when joining a practice?  If you could go back in time, how would you evaluate different opportunities? How important is it to be not afraid to negotiate some of those tangibles like salary and vacation time?

Let’s start with the red flags. One red flag to look out for is a lack of mentorship for junior professionals. Being left to fend for yourself in an unfamiliar environment can be detrimental to your career growth. The last thing you want is to go somewhere where they don't have your back and you can get persecuted for minor issues or complications.

Also, make sure the expectations are reasonable. Be wary of practices or situations where they ask too much of you early on without a plan; practices where you’ve seen too much turnover; and practices that would hire you without first checking your references. This could mean a lack of genuine interest in your long-term fit. You want to know that they're investing in you. 

Always try to understand the culture of the place you’re considering. You want to ensure that the team, their mentality, and the workplace environment align with your values and character. If you don't feel welcomed or you feel out of place, it’s probably not the right fit.

In terms of negotiation, don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself. This is especially important if you’re a woman because I think that women don’t ask for enough. So, if you’re a woman, always ask for more!

Ask for what you believe you need in order to be successful, whether it’s a certain salary, allowances, or resources for research. Above all, ask for transparency regarding your compensation plan. A lot of people starting out are shy about this. While you don’t need to know your colleagues’ salary to the penny, it’s useful to understand the formula or algorithm they use to determine their salaries so you can fashion your demands similarly. It’s also important to know when employees are reevaluated, how flexible the organization is, and whether they can assure you that you’re being fairly paid. For instance, some organizations offer a flat starting wage, which you may find fair – especially if there are other perks.

On that note, consider other incentives like moving expenses, professional allowances for your research, startup funds, or the personnel who can help you. Knowing these details upfront saves you from scrambling to figure things out later on.

Sometimes, when people are checking all your references, it's so easy to feel like you're being scrutinized, so you may end up thinking – I won’t be hired. But to your point, having your references checked is actually a good thing, right?

Absolutely. As an educator, a previous program director, and as a current director of a cardiac cath lab, it is my responsibility to be honest about a fellow’s skills. Not everyone can be the best, but no one who isn’t competent will graduate either. Basically, when you’re confirming a reference about a competent person, you’re sharing what this person is great at but also what they struggle or need help with so that the potential employer can decide for themselves whether it’s a good fit.

Even the most competent person might need help in some areas. Being open about it is the best way to be successful because you don't want to sweep problems under the rug and make them someone else's problem. When a mentor or previous employer provides an honest assessment, including areas where you might need improvement, it's beneficial for you as well. Knowing what to work on can help you grow professionally. This honest feedback maintains our integrity and helps us make sure that problems are addressed.

When you're operating, do you like listening to music? And if so, what are your top three songs?

So, I generally don’t listen to music in the cath lab, but I'm not against it. If patients want music and ask for jazz or classical music in the background, it’s fine by me. 

But I love the oldies, like the Swooners and Bing Crosby. And sometimes the radio is on and a  Queen song like Another One Bites the Dust comes on, and I think to myself: that’s not good background music for the lab! 

Outside the cath lab, though, I love alternative music and R&B. I'll listen to Drake and then Death Cab for Cutie. I don’t really listen to country music except for pop country, like Taylor Swift — I raised a daughter who's 24, so I had to live through T-swift and Hannah Montana. But I do listen to music in my car when I’m coming and going from the hospital in the middle of the night.

How about movies? What are your top three movies of all time?

I'm a total movie addict. I’ll watch anything other than horror movies; they’re way too scary for me. I also avoid tear-jerkers – I don’t want to get super sad! I love comedies and rom-coms like Legally Blonde, Pitch Perfect, The Proposal, and I Feel Pretty. It’s hysterical! Work is serious, and you have to deal with a lot of morbid things. So I like having fun in my downtime. 

As you can see, I love movies with strong female leads like Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon. They’re so much fun!

If you had a chance to go back to your late 20s, what would you tell your younger self from a professional standpoint?

I would say, keep up with all of your hobbies outside the hospital. It's so easy to get wrapped up in work all the time. So keep exploring when you’re not wearing a coat. I was a dancer in high school and college, and while I was in med school I switched to running. Now I'm trying new things – exploring outdoor activities like skiing, boating, and sailing. Work is serious, so it’s important to balance it with family, nature, and the outdoors. 

Any upcoming events, congresses, or research that you want to highlight or mention?

I’m looking forward to the SCAI annual meeting in Long Beach in 2024, which I'll be chairing. It's going to be super fun. We're going to have a lot of activities even outside the convention center because it's right there in Long Beach. 

For women in medicine, I highly recommend checking out Women as One. It's an organization founded by two interventional cardiologists, Roxanne Mehran and Marie-Claude Morice. Its purpose is breaking down barriers for women in the field. We did some mid-career workshops for women that went really well. We focused on complex coronary disease or imaging, cardiogenic shock – a lot of different topics. They offer research grants, professional information, and mentoring opportunities.

Are there any tips that you can offer young, junior colleagues across other disciplines and specialties on how to establish professional relationships with people they didn't train with or are new in their ecosystem?

Don’t just rely on your institution for mentorship and opportunities. Branch out to national and even international societies, especially if you’re in a field like cardiology where we're really fortunate to have phenomenal societies and groups like the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI). Getting involved when you’re a fellow can provide a leg-up as these societies often have programs designed specifically for young professionals. There are people there who are interested in fellows education, and once you show your enthusiasm to contribute and volunteer, you’ll get more opportunities in the future.

For career transitions, I would say put yourself out there. Have a concise two-minute blurb about yourself and your career interests so you’re always ready for meaningful conversations. 

When you form bonds with colleagues who share your goals, it makes work feel less like a chore and more like a community. 

Essentially, working in a comfortable atmosphere can make all the difference. It’s great both for socialization opportunities, like casual dinners, and professional opportunities, like collaborative research projects.

Are there red flags to consider when joining a practice?  If you could go back in time, how would you evaluate different opportunities? How important is it to be not afraid to negotiate some of those tangibles like salary and vacation time?

Let’s start with the red flags. One red flag to look out for is a lack of mentorship for junior professionals. Being left to fend for yourself in an unfamiliar environment can be detrimental to your career growth. The last thing you want is to go somewhere where they don't have your back and you can get persecuted for minor issues or complications.

Also, make sure the expectations are reasonable. Be wary of practices or situations where they ask too much of you early on without a plan; practices where you’ve seen too much turnover; and practices that would hire you without first checking your references. This could mean a lack of genuine interest in your long-term fit. You want to know that they're investing in you. 

Always try to understand the culture of the place you’re considering. You want to ensure that the team, their mentality, and the workplace environment align with your values and character. If you don't feel welcomed or you feel out of place, it’s probably not the right fit.

In terms of negotiation, don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself. This is especially important if you’re a woman because I think that women don’t ask for enough. So, if you’re a woman, always ask for more!

Ask for what you believe you need in order to be successful, whether it’s a certain salary, allowances, or resources for research. Above all, ask for transparency regarding your compensation plan. A lot of people starting out are shy about this. While you don’t need to know your colleagues’ salary to the penny, it’s useful to understand the formula or algorithm they use to determine their salaries so you can fashion your demands similarly. It’s also important to know when employees are reevaluated, how flexible the organization is, and whether they can assure you that you’re being fairly paid. For instance, some organizations offer a flat starting wage, which you may find fair – especially if there are other perks.

On that note, consider other incentives like moving expenses, professional allowances for your research, startup funds, or the personnel who can help you. Knowing these details upfront saves you from scrambling to figure things out later on.

Sometimes, when people are checking all your references, it's so easy to feel like you're being scrutinized, so you may end up thinking – I won’t be hired. But to your point, having your references checked is actually a good thing, right?

Absolutely. As an educator, a previous program director, and as a current director of a cardiac cath lab, it is my responsibility to be honest about a fellow’s skills. Not everyone can be the best, but no one who isn’t competent will graduate either. Basically, when you’re confirming a reference about a competent person, you’re sharing what this person is great at but also what they struggle or need help with so that the potential employer can decide for themselves whether it’s a good fit.

Even the most competent person might need help in some areas. Being open about it is the best way to be successful because you don't want to sweep problems under the rug and make them someone else's problem. When a mentor or previous employer provides an honest assessment, including areas where you might need improvement, it's beneficial for you as well. Knowing what to work on can help you grow professionally. This honest feedback maintains our integrity and helps us make sure that problems are addressed.

When you're operating, do you like listening to music? And if so, what are your top three songs?

So, I generally don’t listen to music in the cath lab, but I'm not against it. If patients want music and ask for jazz or classical music in the background, it’s fine by me. 

But I love the oldies, like the Swooners and Bing Crosby. And sometimes the radio is on and a  Queen song like Another One Bites the Dust comes on, and I think to myself: that’s not good background music for the lab! 

Outside the cath lab, though, I love alternative music and R&B. I'll listen to Drake and then Death Cab for Cutie. I don’t really listen to country music except for pop country, like Taylor Swift — I raised a daughter who's 24, so I had to live through T-swift and Hannah Montana. But I do listen to music in my car when I’m coming and going from the hospital in the middle of the night.

How about movies? What are your top three movies of all time?

I'm a total movie addict. I’ll watch anything other than horror movies; they’re way too scary for me. I also avoid tear-jerkers – I don’t want to get super sad! I love comedies and rom-coms like Legally Blonde, Pitch Perfect, The Proposal, and I Feel Pretty. It’s hysterical! Work is serious, and you have to deal with a lot of morbid things. So I like having fun in my downtime. 

As you can see, I love movies with strong female leads like Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon. They’re so much fun!

If you had a chance to go back to your late 20s, what would you tell your younger self from a professional standpoint?

I would say, keep up with all of your hobbies outside the hospital. It's so easy to get wrapped up in work all the time. So keep exploring when you’re not wearing a coat. I was a dancer in high school and college, and while I was in med school I switched to running. Now I'm trying new things – exploring outdoor activities like skiing, boating, and sailing. Work is serious, so it’s important to balance it with family, nature, and the outdoors. 

Any upcoming events, congresses, or research that you want to highlight or mention?

I’m looking forward to the SCAI annual meeting in Long Beach in 2024, which I'll be chairing. It's going to be super fun. We're going to have a lot of activities even outside the convention center because it's right there in Long Beach. 

For women in medicine, I highly recommend checking out Women as One. It's an organization founded by two interventional cardiologists, Roxanne Mehran and Marie-Claude Morice. Its purpose is breaking down barriers for women in the field. We did some mid-career workshops for women that went really well. We focused on complex coronary disease or imaging, cardiogenic shock – a lot of different topics. They offer research grants, professional information, and mentoring opportunities.

Are there any tips that you can offer young, junior colleagues across other disciplines and specialties on how to establish professional relationships with people they didn't train with or are new in their ecosystem?

Don’t just rely on your institution for mentorship and opportunities. Branch out to national and even international societies, especially if you’re in a field like cardiology where we're really fortunate to have phenomenal societies and groups like the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI). Getting involved when you’re a fellow can provide a leg-up as these societies often have programs designed specifically for young professionals. There are people there who are interested in fellows education, and once you show your enthusiasm to contribute and volunteer, you’ll get more opportunities in the future.

For career transitions, I would say put yourself out there. Have a concise two-minute blurb about yourself and your career interests so you’re always ready for meaningful conversations. 

When you form bonds with colleagues who share your goals, it makes work feel less like a chore and more like a community. 

Essentially, working in a comfortable atmosphere can make all the difference. It’s great both for socialization opportunities, like casual dinners, and professional opportunities, like collaborative research projects.

Are there red flags to consider when joining a practice?  If you could go back in time, how would you evaluate different opportunities? How important is it to be not afraid to negotiate some of those tangibles like salary and vacation time?

Let’s start with the red flags. One red flag to look out for is a lack of mentorship for junior professionals. Being left to fend for yourself in an unfamiliar environment can be detrimental to your career growth. The last thing you want is to go somewhere where they don't have your back and you can get persecuted for minor issues or complications.

Also, make sure the expectations are reasonable. Be wary of practices or situations where they ask too much of you early on without a plan; practices where you’ve seen too much turnover; and practices that would hire you without first checking your references. This could mean a lack of genuine interest in your long-term fit. You want to know that they're investing in you. 

Always try to understand the culture of the place you’re considering. You want to ensure that the team, their mentality, and the workplace environment align with your values and character. If you don't feel welcomed or you feel out of place, it’s probably not the right fit.

In terms of negotiation, don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself. This is especially important if you’re a woman because I think that women don’t ask for enough. So, if you’re a woman, always ask for more!

Ask for what you believe you need in order to be successful, whether it’s a certain salary, allowances, or resources for research. Above all, ask for transparency regarding your compensation plan. A lot of people starting out are shy about this. While you don’t need to know your colleagues’ salary to the penny, it’s useful to understand the formula or algorithm they use to determine their salaries so you can fashion your demands similarly. It’s also important to know when employees are reevaluated, how flexible the organization is, and whether they can assure you that you’re being fairly paid. For instance, some organizations offer a flat starting wage, which you may find fair – especially if there are other perks.

On that note, consider other incentives like moving expenses, professional allowances for your research, startup funds, or the personnel who can help you. Knowing these details upfront saves you from scrambling to figure things out later on.

Sometimes, when people are checking all your references, it's so easy to feel like you're being scrutinized, so you may end up thinking – I won’t be hired. But to your point, having your references checked is actually a good thing, right?

Absolutely. As an educator, a previous program director, and as a current director of a cardiac cath lab, it is my responsibility to be honest about a fellow’s skills. Not everyone can be the best, but no one who isn’t competent will graduate either. Basically, when you’re confirming a reference about a competent person, you’re sharing what this person is great at but also what they struggle or need help with so that the potential employer can decide for themselves whether it’s a good fit.

Even the most competent person might need help in some areas. Being open about it is the best way to be successful because you don't want to sweep problems under the rug and make them someone else's problem. When a mentor or previous employer provides an honest assessment, including areas where you might need improvement, it's beneficial for you as well. Knowing what to work on can help you grow professionally. This honest feedback maintains our integrity and helps us make sure that problems are addressed.

When you're operating, do you like listening to music? And if so, what are your top three songs?

So, I generally don’t listen to music in the cath lab, but I'm not against it. If patients want music and ask for jazz or classical music in the background, it’s fine by me. 

But I love the oldies, like the Swooners and Bing Crosby. And sometimes the radio is on and a  Queen song like Another One Bites the Dust comes on, and I think to myself: that’s not good background music for the lab! 

Outside the cath lab, though, I love alternative music and R&B. I'll listen to Drake and then Death Cab for Cutie. I don’t really listen to country music except for pop country, like Taylor Swift — I raised a daughter who's 24, so I had to live through T-swift and Hannah Montana. But I do listen to music in my car when I’m coming and going from the hospital in the middle of the night.

How about movies? What are your top three movies of all time?

I'm a total movie addict. I’ll watch anything other than horror movies; they’re way too scary for me. I also avoid tear-jerkers – I don’t want to get super sad! I love comedies and rom-coms like Legally Blonde, Pitch Perfect, The Proposal, and I Feel Pretty. It’s hysterical! Work is serious, and you have to deal with a lot of morbid things. So I like having fun in my downtime. 

As you can see, I love movies with strong female leads like Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon. They’re so much fun!

If you had a chance to go back to your late 20s, what would you tell your younger self from a professional standpoint?

I would say, keep up with all of your hobbies outside the hospital. It's so easy to get wrapped up in work all the time. So keep exploring when you’re not wearing a coat. I was a dancer in high school and college, and while I was in med school I switched to running. Now I'm trying new things – exploring outdoor activities like skiing, boating, and sailing. Work is serious, so it’s important to balance it with family, nature, and the outdoors. 

Any upcoming events, congresses, or research that you want to highlight or mention?

I’m looking forward to the SCAI annual meeting in Long Beach in 2024, which I'll be chairing. It's going to be super fun. We're going to have a lot of activities even outside the convention center because it's right there in Long Beach. 

For women in medicine, I highly recommend checking out Women as One. It's an organization founded by two interventional cardiologists, Roxanne Mehran and Marie-Claude Morice. Its purpose is breaking down barriers for women in the field. We did some mid-career workshops for women that went really well. We focused on complex coronary disease or imaging, cardiogenic shock – a lot of different topics. They offer research grants, professional information, and mentoring opportunities.

Join Our Waiting List of Investors

We oversubscribed our last round of financing in just a few weeks, so enter your email below to avoid missing out on the next opportunity to invest.

IVL is an impressive therapy with an attractive market and I’m very excited about FastWave’s prospects.

Dr. Puneet Khanna

Interventional Cardiologist & Medtech Investor

Join Our Waiting List of Investors

We oversubscribed our last round of financing in just a few weeks, so enter your email below to avoid missing out on the next opportunity to invest.

IVL is an impressive therapy with an attractive market and I’m very excited about FastWave’s prospects.

Dr. Puneet Khanna

Interventional Cardiologist & Medtech Investor

Join Our Waiting List of Investors

We oversubscribed our last round of financing in just a few weeks, so enter your email below to avoid missing out on the next opportunity to invest.

IVL is an impressive therapy with an attractive market and I’m very excited about FastWave’s prospects.

Dr. Puneet Khanna

Interventional Cardiologist & Medtech Investor

Mailing Address:

FastWave Medical
400 S 4th St, Ste 410
PMB 21892
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Phone:

(833) 888-9283

Email:

team@fastwavemedical.com

Follow FastWave’s Journey

© 2024 FastWave Medical Inc.

Mailing Address:

FastWave Medical
400 S 4th St, Ste 410
PMB 21892
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Phone:

(833) 888-9283

Email:

team@fastwavemedical.com

Follow FastWave’s Journey

© 2024 FastWave Medical Inc.

Mailing Address:

FastWave Medical
400 S 4th St, Ste 410
PMB 21892
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Phone:

(833) 888-9283

Email:

team@fastwavemedical.com

Follow FastWave’s Journey

© 2024 FastWave Medical Inc.