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1st HFA Career Cafe takes off

Heart Failure 2016 Congress News

A new event at Heart Failure 2016 is the HFA (Heart Failure Association) Career Cafe, where - in a relaxed atmosphere - young heart failure enthusiasts are given the opportunity to meet internationally renowned experts in the field.

The idea stems from the experience that it can be quite difficult to get in touch with such senior experts, as Mitja Lainscak (Department of Cardiology, General Hospital, Celje, Slovenia), HFA Board Member, explains.

“During the congress, these well-known and highly regarded seniors are overbooked. Usually, opportunities for quality time and in-depths discussions on career developments are rare.”                                                                     

Through this project, HFA and Dr. Lainscak wished to offer the young heart failure community a possibility to get into contact with people who are established in the field. The idea for the HFA Career Cafe emerged about a year ago. For this pilot edition, HFA decided to keep the event modest with 15 ‘mentors’; senior cardiologists whom the participants will be speaking to. Enthusiasm was rife, resulting in 17 mentors who will each be available for 3 interviews of 12 minutes each.

Dr. Lainscak was pleasantly surprised by this feedback:“It clearly shows that these mentors are willing to help young doctors to build their careers. I think that a shared compassion for heart failure is why there was so much interest from their side to participate. Mentors have been enrolled on a strictly voluntary basis. Although it is still ‘work’ to them, it is a very enjoyable type of work. I am sure that is the main reason why so many of them wanted to participate.”

Special attention has been paid to cover all fields and to involve as many female mentors as possible to overcome the under representation of women in this field: “We are quite proud to have several ladies amongst the mentors”, Dr. Lainscak adds. Furthermore, the team of mentors represents a good balance between those active in basic and/or clinical science, pharmacotherapy and devices. Moreover, some nurses have been invited as well to talk to young aspiring cardiologists.

The participants are young HFA members aged 40 years and younger who have applied in March. After having applied online, they will be assigned to three interviews according to their profile, preferences, and motivations. Popular topics likely to be discussed in these 12 minutes are tips & tricks on how to present at major congresses and how to get published in the top journals, the possibilities for collaboration, either on a clinical or scientific level, and advice for writing grants or job interviews.

“Many participants also like to elaborate on how they should compose a good application letter which ensures they have a fair chance of getting the desired position”, Dr. Lainscak says.

The HFA Career Cafe is a long term project, as Dr. Lainscak emphasizes.

“We will evaluate this first event by sending out a survey to all participants asking them what they thought of it, what was good and what might be improved. Moreover, they should tell us how taking part has helped their career in any way. Next year, we plan to have the three most interesting stories to be presented during the congress.”

But even more is to come beyond 2017, as the plan is to follow the careers of these first participants up to five years on a yearly basis, assessing what the impact on their career has been.