Q: Is the program a set four years, or are there fellows that have done 3 years and gone onto clinical practice?
A: Our program’s curriculum is flexible to many different pathways of training. Although most fellows choose our program because of their strong interest in an academic career in cardiology and the availability of protected, funded, and mentored research time, we recognize that career plans and priorities can change. Our goal is that all Duke fellows are highly competent (and potentially superior!) in their clinical skills and achieve the type of career of which they can be proud. Thus, we have had a few fellows who have completed all their ACGME Cardiovascular Disease fellowship in 3 years and pursued other opportunities, such as additional training or clinical practice.
As more sub-specialties in cardiology require additional clinical training (interventional, electrophysiology, advanced heart failure and transplantation), we also recognize the increasing duration of fellowship. Therefore, for fellows who wish to pursue such additional ACGME training, we are committed to providing a training pathway here which incorporates general cardiology fellowship, research, and advanced clinical training according to their choices and the requirements of ACGME. In this way, we hope to personalize the training for the individual fellow at Duke.
Q: Does your program consider IMG’s for fellowship? If yes, what do you look for in their application?
A: Thank you for your question and interest in our program. Our program does consider international medical graduates (IMGs) for positions in our program. Indeed, we have trained recent, outstanding fellows who received medical degrees in countries such as Argentina, Canada, Egypt, England, Ireland, Lebanon, New Zealand, Pakistan and Singapore among others. We do require that IMGs have completed an ACGME-accredited, internal medicine residency program and have passed 3 parts of the USMLE. In addition, we are not able to consider applicants holding J-1 or H-1b visas (non-permanent US residents) due to restrictions of funding by our NIH training grants. If you or others meet these criteria, we would welcome the chance to review your application through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Thanks again for your interest.
Q: How important to my application is current or recent research work, even if it hasn’t resulted in an abstract or publication?
A: There are numerous benefits of an applicant’s participation in research. A research project may help a resident or fellow decide on his or her enjoyment of investigation and its potential role in their career development and future. In addition, experience in a particular area of cardiology may help a trainee determine their sub-specialty focus within cardiology. Research certainly increases interaction between the trainee and mentor in research project itself, but also for ongoing career advising and collaboration.
Many cardiology fellowship programs require research experience during fellowship training, and as a result, previous experience and/or productivity in research may be a foundation for future projects. For a few programs, productivity in research such as oral presentations, abstract, and manuscripts may be important milestones in training which begin a “track record” of success (particularly for trainees with PhD degrees).
Finally, at the least, engagement in a research project will demonstrate that an applicant has been involved in cardiology to a greater extent than “required” or mandated by clinical rotations. Likewise, research experience may provide a topic or avenue for discussion between the applicant and interviewer at a greater depth than just a general interest in the broad field of cardiology. If a trainee has been involved in a research project, he or she should feel prepared and comfortable discussing the objectives, methods, potential limitations, results (if available), and significance of the project.