November 17th, 2013

What Council Involvement Can Add

Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending AHA.13 in Dallas this week are blogging for CardioExchange. The Fellows include Vimal RamjeeSiqin YeSeth MartinReva Balakrishnan, and  Saurav Chatterjee. The current post is written by the comoderator of the Fellowship Training discussions. You can find the preceding post here. For more of our AHA.13 coverage of late-breaking clinical trials, interviews with the authors of the most important research, and blogs from our fellows on the most interesting presentations at the meeting, check out our AHA.13 Headquarters.

When I became a cardiology fellow and joined AHA, as part of the first application, the website asked me what I wanted my primary council to be. I had no idea what this meant. It then asked what my secondary council was. Again, I was perplexed. I saw the clinical cardiology council and thought that sounded relevant to me and so chose that. As time has evolved, so have my involvement and my understanding of AHA councils, and I have joined the functional genomics and translational biology council and the 3CPR council.

On the Saturday before the Scientific Sessions started, the program committee from the FGTB council established an early career session. The title of my talk was “Tools for Epigenetic Research,” and I built my presentation around epigenetic research in pulmonary hypertension to demonstrate the tools and techniques of the trade. I was nervous about this presentation — trying to condense a field of epigenetics into a 10-minute talk is challenging. However, in the world of academic medicine, being able to explain complex ideas to a broad audience is an important skill, one that I am still working on. As Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” All in all, the talk went well, with good questions at the end and constructive feedback from the FGTB leadership committee afterwards.

The council structure within the AHA provides a unique opportunity not only to be involved in the association but also to meet and get to know people who are influential in your field. Navigating what council works for you is difficult, with limited guidance from the AHA to figure out the council that fits your need. But once you find your fit and get involved in council activities, it adds an extra dimension to the AHA Scientific Sessions and valuable career experience.

What has council involvement given you?

3 Responses to “What Council Involvement Can Add”

  1. I always felt that Councils did make it easier to connect, but also had the possibility to fragment the larger community – and to make it harder to achieve interdisciplinary connections. It fosters connections within our own tribes, but what is the best way for us to have a home, but also connect to others? And I also found it interesting that when we started QCOR, the leaders of Clinical Cardiology felt that our group no longer belonged to them even as most of us in QCOR belonged to both. We were labeled in a certain way and so that defined us – even as we viewed ourselves more broadly.

  2. Siqin Ye, MD says:


    Any practical tips on how to get involved with councils and identify where is your best fit?

  3. Thanks for the comments. I think the best way to get involved is to find out who is in charge of the early career section within a council that piques your interest and get in touch with them while at the meeting (in person is always better). Ask them what they are doing for early career folks and offer a way of getting involved or even just offer to call into a meeting or two as a silent observer. The YIA events within councils are also another great way to get involved by competing for that. I agree with Harlan- the issue making interdisciplinary connections is tough, but the opportunity to give talks and get mentorship is invaluable