Interventional Cardiologists Must Stay Up-to-date on Training to Avoid ‘Proficiency Divide’

March 3, 2020 – The DCRI’s Sunil Rao, MD, writes that to deliver high quality care, interventional cardiologists must constantly evaluate their practice and learn new techniques and skills.

The field of interventional cardiology is rapidly changing, which could lead to a proficiency divide, the DCRI’s Sunil Rao, MD, writes in a recent editorial in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.

The editorial accompanies a study conducted by Erin Flattery, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center, and colleagues, which surveyed interventional fellows-in-training. The study found that while 95 percent of respondents said they received expert or sufficient training in three interventional modalities, only 7 percent said they were independently competent in all three areas.

Sunil Rao, MDThese results point to a larger potential problem, Rao writes—the gap between evidence and clinical practice. While there are guidelines that measure proficiency for fellows-in-training, these guidelines require updates and are not designed to be applied to the practice of post-training cardiologists. As new best practices, techniques, and devices emerge, it can be difficult for interventional cardiologists to keep up. In order to remain competent, interventional cardiologists “should constantly evaluate their practice to ensure they are applying the latest techniques that are proven to improve outcomes, and abandoning devices, procedures, or techniques that are not beneficial or harmful.”

“The results from this study are concerning because it shows that many future interventionalists do not feel comfortable applying the tenets they’ve learned in training on their own,” Rao said. “At the DCRI, we try to bridge these gaps and are committed to training the next generation through our fellowship program. However, it’s important for interventional cardiologists to recognize that learning is a career-long process as we continue to discover the best ways to deliver health care change.”