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How Philanthropy Can be a Part of Your Medical Story

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

The 75th Anniversary meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in Atlanta, April 6–8, 2024, allowed me to reflect on the bounties of personal satisfaction I have had from almost five decades of cardiology. While many of us experience periods of depression and frustration during our years of clinical practice, retirement allows you to appreciate the satisfaction that you previously experienced caring for others and the sheer elation that you can feel deep inside giving back to individual patients, your communities, or your professional organizations.

Winston Churchill stated it eloquently: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

I was humbled to participate in a panel discussion entitled: “Giving from the Heart – How Philanthropy Accelerates the Mission of the ACC.” The session was moderated by ACC’s Chair of Philanthropic Giving, Dr. James Januzzi from Mass General. Panelists included Dr. William Zoghbi from Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular and Dr. Sandra Lewis from Portland Legacy Medical Group Cardiology. Each of these individuals has made special gifts to the ACC when they identified unique issues or needs. Dr. Zoghbi has created the William A. Zoghbi International Research Award to support international members early in their research careers. In 2020, Dr. Sandra Lewis made a generous gift to the ACC to establish the Sandra J. Lewis Women’s Leadership Institute to promote the unique needs of mid-career women in cardiology. A previous participant in this program, Dr. Modele Ogunniyi from Emory, explained the impact of the program on her career. She stated that the training that she received in the Leadership Institute enhanced her confidence in herself, and other skills that she developed enhanced her academic career. 

My participation stemmed from my experiences being a mentor for minority clinicians and clinicians from underserved populations seeking Cardiology Fellowship. I saw some instances of special financial needs that these individuals faced, and I created a Benevolence Fund as an emergency source of financial support for young trainees moving forward.

Also in the audience was Dr. Hani Najm, a pediatric cardiac surgeon from Ohio who previously created the Hani Najm Global Scholar Award. The Hani Najm Global Scholar Award was established to encourage the sharing of knowledge between international cardiology professionals to better combat the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease worldwide. It aims to provide early career cardiologists living in the Middle East and Africa the opportunity to elevate their training by participating in the ACC Annual Scientific Session and completing an Observership Program in the United States.

While philanthropy can be defined differently by a multitude of donors, this discussion clearly showed that this group all sought to give back. I believe that the audience left understanding that each of us can create our own message and our own way of expressing gratitude for what our profession has given us as individuals.

Sometimes contrasting backgrounds can provide remarkably similar messages. A poor Black boxer who rose to Olympic and professional fame, Mohammed Ali observed: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” 

An immigrant scientist, Albert Einstein said: “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.

Dr. Sherman has no conflicts of interest to report.

Illustration by Diana Connolly

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