The statement recommends that cardiologists, from trainees to cardiologists contemplating retirement, be granted more leeway in their careers to allow them to take time for common life events, such as child rearing, taking care of aged parents, or reducing their workload in case of poor health or physical disabilities, without jeopardizing their careers.
The "2022 ACC Health Policy Statement on Career Flexibility in Cardiology: A Report of the American College of Cardiology Solution Set Oversight Committee" is published online October 13 in the Journal of the AmericanCollege of Cardiology.
'Hard Driving Profession'
The well-being of the cardiovascular workforce is critical to the achievement of the mission of the ACC, which is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health, the Health Policy writing committee states. Career flexibility is an important component of ensuring that well-being, they say.
"The ACC has critically looked at the factors that contribute to the lack of diversity and inclusion in cardiovascular practice, and one of the issues is the lack of flexibility in our profession," writing committee chair, Mary Norine Walsh, MD, medical director of the heart failure and cardiac transplantation programs, Ascension St. Vincent Heart Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology.
The notion of work-life balance has become increasingly important but cardiology as a profession has traditionally not been open to the idea of its value, Walsh said.
"We have a very hard driving profession. It takes many years to train to do the work we do. The need for on-call services is very significant, and we go along because we have always done it this way, but if you don't re-examine the way that you are structuring your work, you'll never change it," she said.
"For example, the 'full time, full call, come to work after you've been up all night' work ethic, which is no longer allowed for trainees, is still in effect once you get into university practice or clinical practice. We have interventional cardiologists up all night doing STEMI care for patients and then having a full clinic the next day," Walsh said. "The changes that came about for trainees have not trickled up to the faculty or clinical practice level. It's really a patient safety issue."
She emphasized that the new policy statement is not focused solely on women. "The need for time away or flexible time around family planning, childbirth, and parental leave is increasingly important to our younger colleagues, both men and women."