Interview with Dr. Jon George
Hear about Jon's experience with his first interventional call case, what he wishes he knew coming out of fellowship, and tips for dealing with turf wars.
Before we dive in, here’s a little more about Dr. Jon George’s medical background:
Current: Pennsylvania Hospital, University of Pennsylvania Health System
Fellowship: Interventional Cardiology and Endovascular, Temple University
Residency: Internal Medicine and Cardiology, University Hospitals Case Medical Center
Medical School: University of Cincinnatti
MBA: Temple University
Thanks for joining us, Dr. George. Let’s dive in!
Shortly after you completed your residency and fellowship training, was there a therapy area or subject matter you wish you were taught or had more experience in?
My final subspecialty fellowship training in Interventional Cardiology and Endovascular Medicine spanned a duration of one year to cap off a total of seven years of post-medical school that included residency, fellowship, and subspecialty fellowship training. Although that sounds like a lot of years, it is still barely enough to learn the intricacies of coronary, structural, peripheral, and venous interventions. The biggest gap in my training was mostly in structural and venous interventions, which were mostly learned on the job.
Many residents and fellows leave training with a sense that they aren’t fully ready for clinical practice. Do you remember a time when you felt like you weren’t ready for “prime time”? How did you overcome this?
I often tell my fellows about my first interventional call case. I was waiting for my pager to go off, and when it did, I was ready to get dressed and out the door as quickly as I could, but not before my wife snapped some pictures of me running out for my first case on call!
But I was nowhere near ready to face the clinical complexity of the case that I was about to engage: a thrombosed aortic valve with embolization to multiple coronaries. Without getting into the details of the case and the procedure, I was only able to have a successful outcome because I remained calm and collected, while utilizing the team of physicians and mentors that were available to discuss the potential treatment pathways, and ultimately arrive at an excellent result.
Can you tell us about a time in your residency or fellowship that was completely unexpected?
Just one year into my cardiology fellowship in Cleveland, the entire team of doctors in the division that I ranked this fellowship to match into, up and left my program. After that, I had a feeling of despair and regret as I contemplated the likely failure of my fellowship training. However, even though the next 6 months were tumultuous, what resulted was the best accumulation of future mentors and trainers I could have hoped for, and paved the path for my future success.
Dr. George, when thinking about the business of healthcare, what are 2-3 concepts you wish you knew coming out of your fellowship?
I always tell my fellows that one of the biggest gaps in medical training is an understanding of the business of healthcare on topics of billing, coding, and healthcare delivery.
You have friends and colleagues across multiple healthcare disciplines. For a young clinician, how important is networking? Are there 2-3 tips that you can pass along on how to network better or effectively?
Networking is essential in all aspects of your career. I can’t describe how many times my worlds of residency, fellowship, and subspecialty training have intersected with my professional career and positions I have either held or been invited for. So it is imperative that you network, collaborate, and maintain communication with pioneers every step of the way.
Physician-industry relationships can be very valuable, but they are sometimes perceived in a negative light. How do you effectively work with industry partners?
Technology and cutting-edge medicine cannot advance without the collaboration of physicians and industry. The reality is that the negative light is shed by hospital administrators trying to control physicians, and not by patients, who are recipients of that exceptional care. I have navigated my relationships by maintaining them in the spirit of true advancement of care. I’ve never let these relationships influence the care I offer my patients.
Dr. George, you speak on podium at many conferences and do a fair amount of physician training. What are some of the important skill sets needed to be an effective leader in these types of initiatives?
The desire to learn and grow, the enthusiasm to share knowledge, and dedication to educate & train future leaders are the most important qualities for any key opinion leader.
COVID-19 has sped up the process (and technology adoption) in which virtual learning and remote case observation are becoming more prevalent. How do you see this playing out for residents and fellows?
The pandemic has already accelerated the penetration of digital learning into the healthcare arena. What was thought to be an entirely performance-based training ground, has now evolved into the application of simulators, remote observation, and virtual reality to expand the exposure of the current era of trainees to prepare them for the future.
So-called “turf wars” are inevitable in almost any workplace setting, including healthcare. How do you approach this challenge and what’s your advice for graduating residents and fellows?
I believe “turf wars” are created by small-minded personalities in medicine that view the playing field as being minimized by their enlarged self-image. My advice is to continue to persist in the business of taking care of patients to the best of your ability, and attempt to do so in a collaborative process even if the other players choose to take a different path.
Who were your biggest mentors throughout your medical training and what key learning did you gain from them? How should residents and fellows go about finding (and keeping) a mentor?
My biggest mentors were the ones that took me fully under their wing. Not for personal gains, but to see the efforts of their labor of education and training come to fruition. My advice is to always seek out a mentor that you hope to become and then walk in their shadow to reach that goal.
Okay, let’s transition to some fun, rapid-fire questions.
When it comes to personal finance, what do you wish you knew coming out of your fellowship?
Pay off your medical school loans early, because your “real” expenses are just getting started.
When operating, if you had to choose 3 songs to play on repeat, what would they be?
Nuthin but a G Thing by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg
Forgot About Dre by Dr. Dre
Ball So Hard by Jay-Z and Kanye West
Which mobile app are you addicted to -- personally and professionally?
Starting over in your late 20’s or early 30’s, knowing everything you know now, what would you do differently?
Nothing—I love where I’m at.
Do you have any conferences, symposia, or other resources that you’re trying to raise awareness for?
Greater Philadelphia Angio Club (GPAC): www.acvcphilly.org/gpac
Complex Angioplasty Symposium Exchange (CASE): www.acvcphilly.org/case
Thanks for doing this interview, Dr. George! Where’s the best place fellows and residents can connect with you online?