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Sikand, Gallegos, and Giaimo Appointed Assistant Program Directors for Fellowship Program

July 31, 2023
by Elisabeth Reitman

Three scholars join the Cardiology Fellowship Educational Team. Their new roles are designed to elevate the training environment in the Section of Cardiovascular Medicine.

Nikhil Sikand, MD, Cesia Gallegos Kattan, MD, MHS, and Antonio Giaimo, MD, assistant professors of medicine, have been appointed assistant program directors of the Yale Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship Program. They will join current associate program director, Parul Gandhi, MD, and program director, Edward J. Miller, MD, PhD, in leading the core cardiology fellowship program.

Sikand will enhance the quality improvement and simulation programs. Gallegos will concentrate on advancing our inpatient curriculum structure as well as improving our educational evaluation process. Giaimo will focus on development of the ambulatory educational curriculum, including leadership of the newly redesigned Sherman Avenue Fellows and Faculty Cardiovascular Medicine Ambulatory Practice.

Quality Improvement

“My aim is to help utilize the vast resources of the Yale New Haven Health System and the cross-disciplinary expertise of our faculty to expand the educational programming for fellows and better prepare them for real-world practice. I hope that deeper involvement of our fellows in the quality improvement apparatus of the division and further development of simulation exercises to prepare fellows for the complex decision making and technical skills required for modern cardiology practice will lead to better patient care and satisfaction with the training process,” said Sikand.

Sikand is a clinician-educator who specializes in cardiac transplant, mechanical support, cardiac critical care, and clinical decision making. He earned his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 2013. Sikand completed internal medicine and residency training at the Yale School of Medicine. He later served as chief clinic fellow at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, where he enrolled in cardiovascular disease and advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology fellowships. In his new role, Sikand will use simulation, team-based education, and multi-modality learning to develop a new program for cardiovascular medicine fellows.

Inpatient Curriculum and the Educational Evaluation

"I envision an innovative curriculum that fosters a foundation in core cardiology topics while encouraging our fellows to explore their interests in subspecialty training. By doing so, we aim to equip our fellows with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide exceptional patient-centered care. It is crucial for us at Yale that our curriculum maintains its emphasis on evidence-based medicine, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the utilization of cutting-edge technology. Through dynamic learning and the cultivation of critical thinking skills, we aim to empower our fellows to excel in complex inpatient settings. To accomplish these goals, we plan to implement comprehensive evaluations that assess the progress and competence of our trainees. This will allow us to provide timely support and feedback, ultimately enhancing their learning and professional development. This approach will benefit our trainees but also serve as a catalyst for our faculty's professional growth and advancement as educators."

Through dynamic learning and the cultivation of critical thinking skills, we aim to empower our fellows to excel in complex inpatient settings.

Cesia Gallegos Kattan, MD, MHS

Through her participation in the ACES program, Gallegos plans to spend the first year as an associate program director understanding the evolving needs of the program to formulate a highly effective curriculum.

Gallegos is a cardiologist with advanced training in cardiomyopathies such as amyloidosis and sarcoidosis and advanced cardiac imaging. She earned her medical degree from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, followed by residency and chief residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. She completed her general cardiology and advanced training in cardiac imaging and cardiomyopathies at Yale. Gallegos feels that being a graduate of the program puts her in a unique position to understand the needs of trainees as they transition into independent practice.

"I've always loved teaching, even in medical school. My parents were also professors at the university, so education has been a central part of my life," she said.

Ambulatory Educational Curriculum

Topics in outpatient cardiology include the prevention and management of chronic cardiovascular disease. Giaimo hopes to introduce a new curriculum later in the academic year.

"For some it's the prevention of ever having a first heart attack or developing cardiovascular complications. That includes treating cholesterol disorders and high blood pressure. Typically, our patients have some degree of cardiovascular disease.” Proper outpatient care can accomplish multiple goals. For patients with early-stage cardiovascular disease, it can keep them out of the emergency room with a heart attack or, for those with more advanced disease, prevent a second heart attack.

“It's so valuable to the patients, but also especially in the health care environment that we have today, it becomes even more important for patients to have access to timely outpatient care,” he said.

Whereas medical residency and fellowship tends to be inpatient focused, Giaimo advises cardiologists-in-training to reframe their strategy for long-term patient care.

“Time and time again you hear from more experienced clinicians that they shift their focus to trying to keep patients from ever needing to return to the intensive care unit,” he added.

Today, fellows in the Section of Cardiovascular Medicine receive outpatient training by seeing patients in the Yale Physician Building practice as well as at the VA.

Giaimo’s emphasis will be on improving the outpatient experience through better continuity with patients and the attending through the new general cardiology for fellows and faculty practice.

“We're consolidating the fellow outpatient experience to a new practice at the Sherman Avenue location. We've taken a lot of time and effort to recruit attending cardiologists, so that the fellows can have continuity with that attending every time they go to the clinic and see their patients. Ideally, you'll see the patient and three months from now you get to see that patient again and be supervised by the same attending.”

For prospective applicants looking to pursue a general cardiology fellowship Giaimo added, “One of the strong points of this fellowship is the clinical exposure. And by the end of my first year, as a fellow, I felt like I had seen and done enough to feel very comfortable seeing most patients with less supervision.” The training Giaimo received informed his decision to specialize in the appropriate treatment of patients with severely elevated blood pressure. He evaluates patients with resistant hypertension, secondary forms of hypertension, and labile blood pressure disorders. Before his fellowship, Giaimo graduated from New York Medical College and served as chief resident at Yale New Haven Hospital.

One of the strong points of this fellowship is the clinical exposure. And by the end of my first year, as a fellow, I felt like I had seen and done enough to feel very comfortable.

Antonio Giaimo, MD,

"The clinical volume that Yale has from a cardiology perspective is matched only at a few other places in the world, and that extends to outpatient cardiology as well. The leadership has been committed to this iterative process whether it's process improvement or the fellowship experience,” said Giaimo.

Submitted by Elisabeth Reitman on July 20, 2023