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- Anthony N. DeMaria, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology⁎ ()
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Dr. Anthony N. DeMaria, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 3655 Nobel Drive, Suite 630, San Diego, California 92112
A previous Editor's Page discussed the benefits of celebrating achievements, and the fact that we in medicine do not do this as much as we should. I just had an awesome experience in which some accomplishments of mine were commemorated by a university that I had served, and in large part by former colleagues. In fact, the recognition received was largely related to contributions that I had made in mentoring trainees and junior faculty. This event prompted me to recall that very few of us have achieved success solely on our own; more typically we have benefitted by the counsel and support of others. However, as is likely true of many others, I have not always expressed the gratitude that was deserved. Hence, this Editor's Page.
I served as the Chief of Cardiology at the University of Kentucky from 1981 to 1992. While I worked very hard and think I was reasonably successful, I was stunned when David Moliterno, now the Chair of Medicine at the university, told me that they wanted to name a Chair in Cardiology in my honor. I was not sure that I had done anything to warrant a named Professorship, a recognition that could possibly exist forever. David and Susan Smyth, the Chief of Cardiology at university, organized a special weekend complete with a formal investiture ceremony that was witnessed by my wife and children, my professional family (many of whom had worked with me both in Kentucky and San Diego), and many current and former colleagues. Especially meaningful was the role of Mikel Smith, a talented echocardiographer with whom I collaborated for my entire time in Lexington. Mike relived some of our days at the university, with a fair degree of embellishment, which triggered memories of rebuilding a cardiology division that had lost much of its faculty, by recruiting bright, young, and ambitious individuals. David and Susan have now developed a truly impressive cardiology program at the Gill Cardiovascular Center, and repeatedly thanked me (probably naively) for having helped to lay the foundation. Whether the gratitude was warranted or not, the effort they expended to thank me for my contributions to University of Kentucky made a profound impression.
There has never been any doubt in my mind that, whatever success I have achieved, has been majorly due to my mentors. Harold Jeghers was an important influence in medical school and residency while Tony Damato ignited my interest in cardiology. My major mentor was Dean Mason, who guided me through fellowship and early faculty years. In addition to serving as my model for clinical care and research, he was a tireless advocate and promoter of those who worked for him. John Thompson provided a mature hand when I (probably prematurely) accepted the position of Chief of Cardiology at age 37. Charles Fisch, my neighbor in Indiana, helped me understand and serve the American College of Cardiology. Most recently, Eugene Braunwald, as Chair of the Publications Committee, has provided wise counsel regarding the editorship of JACC. Many others have, of course, made major contributions to my career, but too little space is available to mention them all.
Looking back, I am not sure that I ever adequately communicated my gratitude to these individuals. I am sure that I expressed my thanks, but probably never in an appropriate manner. Life is too busy, and there are always tasks waiting to be done. It is just so easy to let things slip through the cracks, and never get around to extending gratitude proportional to the value of the support that has been given. Supervisors are everywhere, but true mentors are much harder to find. The worst sin, of course, is underemphasizing the importance of the guidance, and assuming that the credit for success rests primarily on you alone.
The failure to show appropriate appreciation seems to me to be very prevalent. Institutions in particular are notorious for having “short memories,” and have been said to “never love you back.” Presumably, the bigger the institution, the greater the chance that suitable gratitude will be lacking. No doubt this could contribute to a relative lack of commitment and dedication to an institution, and ease the potential for faculty to be recruited elsewhere.
It seems clear to me that if someone or something has made a major contribution to the success of an individual, that should be the cause for at least a small celebration. Of greater importance, it definitely deserves a genuine expression of gratitude. Physicians are generally viewed as among the most accomplished and respected individuals in society. Virtually all of us have reached this position with the aid and counseling of others. We owe it to these individuals or organizations to convey our thanks, and let them know what a crucial role they have played in our lives and careers. I have too often been guilty of not adequately expressing my gratitude for the great advice and support that I have received. David, Susan, and Mike have shown me how nicely gratitude can be conveyed, and more importantly, what an impact it can have. In fact, this thank you was probably the nicest thing that ever happened to me. Therefore, I am turning over a new leaf and pledge to show my appreciation in a timely and public way for all the support that I receive. And so, to all of you who have helped me so much in the past, although belated, please accept my most sincere and profound gratitude.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation