This post was authored by John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, president of the American College of Cardiology.
Yesterday evening marked the College’s 62nd annual Convocation – a ceremony of celebration, tradition, transition, and renewal. It served as formal recognition of the many accomplishments of new Fellows and Associates and was just the beginning of their lifelong relationship with the College. For me, it was also a new beginning, as well as time of reflection on those who have come before me – for my mentors, for the College’s past presidents. I am grateful to William Zoghbi, MD, MACC for his service to the ACC and I look forward to carrying the torch that he passed to me last evening.
Forty years ago in San Francisco, Jeremy Swan, MD, MACC was inaugurated as President of the College – and four decades later, I stand in his footsteps. He set an example of personal and professional integrity, was brilliant in research, built a world-class division of cardiology, and involved me in patient-care, clinical research and in the greater cardiovascular community. From him, I learned about the need to focus on building for the future, the importance of philanthropy, and the importance of supporting the College.
Most importantly, Dr. Swan modeled for me how to be a mentor. The French philosopher, Bernard of Chartres, said that “we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a great distance, not by virtue of any sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.”
Dr. Swan was my giant – a blend of a scientific cardiologist, compassionate physician and human being. We connected over our passion for cardiology, as well as our common Irish heritage. He taught me that a mentor must be a good listener, honest, trustworthy, knowledgeable, respected, willing to devote time to others and able to connect on both professional and personal levels.
Great mentors like Dr. Swan are essential to our collective future. If we are to be successful as a profession, it is our responsibility to act now to grow and foster the cardiovascular workforce to meet future demands. If we fail to do this, we will be unable to both meet the needs of patients and stem the growth of cardiovascular disease. And while mentoring requires a great deal of effort and collaboration, the benefits are priceless.
Who was your mentor?