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International Fellowship Exchange Program (IFEP) Spotlight

Suchitra Behl, MD, FACP - IFEP Awardee 2013-2014 Program
Consultant, Fortis C-DOC Hospital
New Delhi, India

Women form a majority of my practice in India, where I work as a specialist in metabolic disorders.  Despite the fact that many women come to see me for acute management of diabetes and other chronic diseases, very few of them are aware of the long term impact of these diseases, especially the cardiovascular impact. Sociocultural factors and lack of knowledge may be partly responsible for this and it is not surprising that cardiac disease is under-diagnosed or detected late.

Hence, participating in the ACP International Fellowship Exchange Program at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, with a focus on women’s health, was a great opportunity to learn from leaders in the fields of cardiology and women’s health. The purpose of my IFEP experience was to establish a Women’s Heart Clinic in India to increase awareness and improve diagnosis of cardiovascular disease at early stages. I was able to work with experts in the women’s heart and vascular clinic, discuss problems and make strategies for our hospital in India, participate in weekly conferences and review newer technologies. The knowledge I gained was used to develop a comprehensive cardiac risk assessment protocol, which has led to better care for women at our hospital. Newer technologies like Endo PAT and Pulse Wave Velocity have also been introduced. The risk assessment questionnaire, developed through the IFEP program identifies women at risk who are then counseled, taught better health practices and advised on appropriate intervention. All residents, young doctors, educators and counselors at our hospital have been trained for this.

My participation in the IFEP program has enabled us to increase early diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, improve utilization of existing resources for increased patient satisfaction, and increase community awareness on cardiovascular disease in women. Above all, the opportunity to be mentored by experts in the U.S. and establish linkages for continued learning and collaboration through IFEP have been invaluable.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2016-2017 ACP International Fellowship Exchange Program. Please visit www.acponline.org/IFEP for more information.

The ACP International Fellowship Exchange Program (IFEP) provides opportunities for early to mid-career physicians from outside the United States and Canada to gain expertise in a focused area relating to the prevention, diagnosis, and/or management of a clinical problem in internal medicine and the subspecialties. Through observation, mentorship, and study of the work of senior faculty physicians, fellows will be funded to acquire knowledge, experience, and skills that they can apply, utilize, and disseminate to colleagues upon return to their home country. Faculty mentors will engage fellows in individual and group clinical and educational experiences and discussions, and facilitate the design of an independent project to be implemented in each fellow’s own country upon his or her return. Fellowships last four weeks and are strictly observational. Candidates must be internists of subspecialists of internal medicine and must be ACP Members of Fellows. Residents-in-training may be considered if they reside in an ACP Chapter.

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