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Role Models: Heart Failure & Devices

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Dr Lindsey Tilling
Reading
I believe working practices are changing and improving, but we really do need a network of women who can share their experiences, and support trainees to achieve their goals.

I became a consultant at the Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading in 2016. I have an interest in heart failure, cardiomyopathy and device therapy. I chose this subspecialty because of the variety of patients and presentations, the multidisciplinary nature of the job, a chance to develop highly specialised practical skills, and the broad impact I believe good heart failure management can have within the population.

No two days are the same; one day I can be counselling an elderly patient about the likely prognostic benefit of resynchronisation therapy, another can be discussing the merits of genetic screening with a parent who has cardiomyopathy, and a third could be arranging referral for cardiac transplant assessment to someone who has reached the ceiling of medical therapy. I have recently extended my interests to include cardio-obstetric medicine. I have frequently found myself caring for young patients with cardiomyopathy who become pregnant, and pregnant patients who develop cardiomyopathy and require surveillance after delivery, and wanted to explore this area further.

I trained in London, and did a PhD at St Thomas’ hospital in endothelial dysfunction. I went on to do two fellowships, firstly in heart failure and then in cardiac rhythm management. I had two children during my training, and worked less than full time (LTFT) for the last 4 years. I did not feel comfortable asking to work LTFT,- women are a minority in cardiology, there are very few training in devices, and at that time at least, even fewer working LTFT. Whilst not encountering resistance, I did not feel supported in my choice, I had no mentors, and I found it very difficult to speak up for myself. I put myself under enormous pressure to be fully present at work, get home for bedtime, and have a home-cooked casserole in the fridge. I believe working practices are changing and improving, but we really do need a network of women who can share their experiences, and support trainees to achieve their goals.

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