Feature | June 05, 2014

SCAI 2014 Scientific Sessions Tackle Looming Shortage of Interventional Cardiologists

ACC President Patrick O’Gara explores causes of shortage, effects on patient care, creative solutions

June 5, 2014 — The president of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), Patrick O’Gara, M.D., recently explored what is causing the looming interventional cardiologist shortage, how it could threaten the quality of patient care and what can be done about it in the annual Hildner Lecture at the 2014 Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) scientific sessions.

In many parts of the United States, there aren’t enough interventional cardiologists for all of the patients who need them, a problem that could worsen in the future unless critical steps are taken to change the way doctors are trained. “This problem affects all of cardiovascular medicine,” O’Gara said. “If we are unable to restore the cardiovascular workforce to the numbers needed, patients’ access to quality care could be threatened.”

O’Gara is director of clinical cardiology and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. He took the helm as president of the ACC in March 2014.

Some 15 years ago, the outlook for cardiologists was far different. At that time, there was widespread concern that too many specialists were being trained in this country, and resources were shifted to educating more primary care physicians. Today several factors are creating a shortage of cardiologists, including the following:

  • An enlarging gap between the demand for cardiovascular specialists and the supply: An aging population, scientific advances and the anticipated effects of the Affordable Care Act all create the need for more cardiologists, not fewer.
  • The gender gap in cardiology: Although women make up slightly more than half of medical school graduates, fewer than one in five cardiovascular specialists are women, a ratio that shrinks to one in ten among interventional cardiologists.
  • An ethnic/racial gap: Hispanics and African Americans are particularly under-represented in cardiology.
  • Marked geographic variations across the United States: There are many cardiologists in major metropolitan areas, but shortages in smaller towns and rural areas limit access to cardiovascular care. 


“These are not easy problems to fix,” O’Gara said. “Unfortunately, it is not as simple as just increasing the number of medical school graduates. We need to take a step back and ask the question, ‘Where are we going with the current training and distribution of cardiovascular specialists in the United States?’”

One possible solution is to revamp Medicare-based funding of residencies and fellowships that lead to careers in cardiology and interventional cardiology. Another important step could be to improve funding for research into heart disease, as this would strengthen academic medical programs — the training ground for all cardiovascular specialists.

Additional creative approaches will be developed by working together, O’Gara said. “I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to speak to the members of SCAI, not only as a representative of the ACC, but also individually,” he said. “As a community, we can begin to come up with some solutions to the workforce challenges that confront us.”

For more information: www.scai.org

Related Content

ECRI Institute, mergers and acquisitions service
News | Business| January 17, 2017
ECRI Institute announced a new mergers and acquisitions service that empowers new hospital alliances to control their...
Synergy stent, abluminal polymer DES, bioresorbable polymer DES, bioresorbable polymer metallic stent

The Synergy stent is the first FDA cleared drug-eluting stent to use a bioresorbable polymer drug carrier. When the polymer dissolves after about four months, the devices become a bare metal stent. The technology is supposed to reduce the rate of late stent thrombosis due to vessel inflammation caused by durable polymers.

Feature | Stents Bioresorbable| January 17, 2017 | Dave Fornell
One of the big advancements in drug-eluting stent (DES) technology has been the development of bioresorbable polymers
Medtronic, CoreValve Evolut R TAVR system, U.S. IDE Study, TCT 2016
News | Heart Valve Technology| November 03, 2016
Medtronic plc unveiled new clinical data showing that patients treated with the self-expanding CoreValve Evolut R...
congenital heart patients, cardiac cath lab, anesthesia sedation practices, joint document, SCAI, SPA, CCAS
News | Congenital Heart| November 03, 2016
The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) and the...
open-heart surgery, PCI, percutaneous coronary intervention, NOBLE trial, left main coronary artery disease, LMCAD, TCT 2016
News | Cardiovascular Surgery| November 03, 2016
Coronary artery bypass (CABG) surgery is the standard treatment for revascularization in patients with left main...
SENTINEL trial, transcatheter embolic protection, TCEP, TAVR, stroke, TCT 2016
News | Embolic Protection Devices| November 03, 2016
An international study has found that transcatheter cerebral embolic protection (TCEP) is safe, provides effective...
News | Drug-Eluting Balloons| November 03, 2016
The Spectranetics Corp. announced that it has submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) its Pre-Market...
RESPECT trial, Amplatzer PFO Occluder, St. Jude Medical, TCT 2016
News | Structural Heart Occluders| November 02, 2016
St. Jude Medical Inc. announced the long-term data from RESPECT, a landmark trial, during a First Report session at the...
Medtronic, Resolute Integrity DES, drug-eluting stent, BIO-RESORT study, TCT 2016
News | Stents Drug Eluting| November 02, 2016
Investigators recently unveiled clinical data from the independent BIO-RESORT study, representing the first all-comers...
Medtronic, Harmony TPV, transcatheter pulmonary valve, clinical study results, TCT 2016
News | Heart Valve Technology| November 02, 2016
Medtronic plc recently announced new clinical data for the Harmony Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve (TPV) from its early...
Overlay Init