Cardiology Fellowship 2020 Graduates Celebrate in Pandemic Style

With family and friends spread around the world and unable to travel amid concerns of a surging pandemic, the 2020 fellowship graduation celebration differed from the large gatherings of prior years. Yet, technology allowed even more people to “attend” the sparsely populated gathering at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.

“Think back to that moment three years ago when you began your journey at Sarver Heart Center; your confidence and your doubts, your strengths and weaknesses. Then reflect on your journey of the last three years, your tremendous growth,” Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD, director of the UArizona Sarver Heart Center and chief of cardiology at the College of Medicine – Tucson, said in her welcoming remarks.  Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD

She also asked fellows to consider all they have done to advance faculty knowledge. “You have witnessed cases and pathologies with faculty and come in the next day, having read and researched things we may have forgotten or we may have never learned,” Dr. Sweitzer said.

Julia Indik, MD, PhD Julia Indik, MD, PhD, presented certificates to the five graduates from the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship and their post-training plans: 

- Christopher Angus, MD, Lutheran Medical Center, Denver, Colo. 
- Bishnu Dhakal, MBBS, University of Pennsylvania Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship 
- Jovil Kannampuzha, MD, MSc, Deaconess Heart Group, Evansville, Ind. 
- Saad Kubba, MD, Mayo Clinic Heart Failure Fellowship, Rochester, Minn. 
- Kristina Skinner, DO, University of Arizona Interventional Cardiology Fellowship

Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Graduates: Christopher Angus, MD, Jovil Kannampuzha, MD, MSc, Bishnu Dhakal, MBBS,  Kristina Skinner, DO, and Saad Kubba, MD   

2020 Graduates of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program: Christopher Angus, MD, Jovil Kannampuzha, MD, MSc, Bishnu Dhakal, MBBS,  Kristina Skinner, DO, and Saad Kubba, MD

The two Interventional Cardiology Fellows were awarded certificates by newly appointed program director Deepak Acharya, MD, MSPH. Their next steps:

  • J.R. Keng Pineda, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center, Banner University Medical Center - Tucson
  • Sridhar Reddy, MD, EPIC Cardiology, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Deepak Acharya, MD, MSPH with Interventional Cardiology graduates JR Keng Pineda, MD, PhD, Sridhar Reddy, MD

Deepak Acharya, MD, MSPH, Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Director, presents certificates to J.R. "Keng" Pineda, MD, PhD, and Sridhar Reddy, MD.

Hyon He K. Garza, MD, the first graduate of the Sarver Heart Center's Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship Program formed in 2017, will be an electrophysiologist at Pulse Heart Institute in Tacoma, Wash. Pictured below: Mathew Hutchinson, MD, EP Fellowship Director; Dr. Garza and her newborn baby.

Mathew Hutchinson, MD, virtually presents certificate to Hyon He K. Garza, MD       Hyon He K. Garza, MD, cardiac electrophysiology graduate via video conference

Awards from faculty to fellows:

  • Christopher Angus, MD, outstanding performance in cardiac imaging
  • Bishnu Dhakal, MBBS, outstanding graduating cardiology fellow, cardiology fellow of the year, and outstanding performance in electrophysiology
  • Kristina Skinner, DO, cardiology fellow of the year 2019-2020 and outstanding performance in interventional cardiology
  • Steven Chase Stroud, MD, outstanding performance in heart failure
  • Mahesh Balakrishnan, MBBS, cardiology fellow of the year in the first year class of 2019-1920
  • Muhammad Ajmal, MBBS, outstanding fellow on call

The fellows recognized the following faculty with 2019-2020 teaching awards:

  • Fellowship mentor of the year: Julia H. Indik, MD, PhD and Karl Kern, MD
  • Most Innovative faculty of the year: Kwan Lee, MD, FACC
  • Lecturer of the year: Julia H. Indik, MD, PhD
  • Best Electrophysiology teacher of the year: Mathew D. Hutchinson, MD
  • Procedural teaching faculty of the year: Deepak Acharya, MD, MSPH and Madhan Shanmugasundaram, MD
  • Best Heart Failure teacher of the year: Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD
  • Clinical Teaching faculty of the year: Preethi William, MD and Tushar Acharya, MD
  • Attending to be on call with: Deepak Acharya, MD, MSPH and Karl Kern, MD
  • Fellowship mentor of the graduating class 2017-2020: Mark Friedman, MD
  • Clinic Preceptor of the year: Olivia Hung, MD, PhD 

Dr. Sweitzer closed the graduation ceremony, encouraging fellows to find a way to celebrate their remarkable achievements, despite the strangeness of the present time. “The world is united in a pandemic in which lives are being lost daily to a virus to which none of us has immunity. We also are facing a crisis of racism and intolerance in the United States, and again, lives are being lost unnecessarily.”

“This reminds me to celebrate each of you as an individual for what you have brought to us and our program; the richness we have in our lives because we have so many intelligent, talented and passionate people. I hope you enjoy every day of your career and continue to find passion in whatever discipline you pursue in cardiovascular medicine,” Dr. Sweitzer said.

Watch the sparsely populated graduation program that was live streamed around the world for family and friends who were unable to travel to celebrate this remarkable milestone in the careers of these talented new cardiologists. Video link