UTHSC Launches Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program

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In July, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will launch the area”s only Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

In July, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will launch the area”s only Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). One of only two ACGME-accredited interventional cardiology initiatives in Tennessee, each year the program will provide one talented physician with focused training in coronary, peripheral and structural heart procedures, as well as neurovascular procedures. Training of the interventional cardiology fellows will be based at Methodist University Hospital, a primary teaching affiliate of UTHSC. Successful completion of the one-year program will allow the trainees to be eligible to appear for the American Board of Internal Medicine certification examination in Interventional Cardiology.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is America”s leading cause of death. In 2010 the total cost of cardiovascular disease for all ages and both genders was $503.2 billion. Approximately 13.2 million people alive today have a history of heart attack, angina pectoris (severe chest pain due to a lack of blood and thus oxygen supply to the heart) or both. An estimated 1.2 million Americans will have a new or recurrent coronary attack this year. The growing patient population suffering from CAD and the desire to treat patients with minimally invasive options has driven growth in interventional procedures, which continue to displace the more invasive surgical procedures.

Interventional Cardiology is a subspecialty of cardiology in which the physician provides catheter—based treatment (catheterization) of vascular and structural heart diseases. Since it deals with intricate techniques for intervention of critical vasculature with minimally invasive strategy, the operator must be both skillful and experienced with the procedures. During the UTHSC fellowship, trainees will hone the skills required to perform such procedures as:

angioplasty and stent replacement — in both non-emergency cases of blocked and hardened arteries known as atherosclerosis, and emergency cases of heart attack or myocardial infarction; valvuloplasty — dilation of narrowed cardiac valves; procedures for congenital heart disease, and coronary thrombectomy — removal of blood clots from blood vessels.

“As one of very few interventional cardiology training programs in the Mid-South and the second in the state of Tennessee, this will help to attract more physicians to the region and also attract high quality trainees to our residency and fellowship programs,” said Santhosh Koshy, MD, FACC, FSCAI, associate professor of Medicine at UTHSC, director of the new Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program, and director of UT Cardiology Services at Methodist Hospital. “The primary training site, Methodist University Hospital, will be one of the premier centers in the nation for advanced interventional cardiology training.” Each of the physicians accepted into the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program will have already completed three years of ACGME-accredited fellowship training in cardiovascular diseases.

The import of the advanced training program is magnified by the documented shortage of cardiologists. In 2009, the American College of Cardiology Workforce Workgroup estimated a shortage of cardiologists that is projected to worsen in the next two decades. When the group issued its report, 43 percent of the then-active cardiologists — 10,261 of the field”s 23,662 — were 55 or older. Volumes for interventional cardiology procedures continue to grow with almost a 267% increase since 1987. As many of the senior cardiologists retire or stop performing PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention commonly known as angioplasty procedure) during the next decade, the stage is set for a significant demand and supply mismatch with important implications for patient access and outcomes.