Charting a Course for Cardiac Electrophysiology Training in Canada: The Vital Role of Fellows in Advanced Cardiovascular Care
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Canadian electrophysiology (EP) fellowship programs have evolved in an ad hoc fashion over 30 years. This evolution has occurred in many fields in medicine and is natural when innovators and pioneers attract research fellows who help change the status quo from predominantly research to a predominantly clinical application and focus. Fellows not only push their supervisors and their centres into new areas of inquiry but also function at the most advanced level to encourage and teach junior trainees and to provide examples of excellence to residents, medical students, and other health professionals. Funding for fellows has never been provided in the traditional way through the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Advanced Education. Each Canadian centre has over the years found novel ways to fund fellowship programs, and many centres have used value-adds from procurement programs. These sources of funding are eroding as provincial government agencies are beginning to assume procurement responsibilities and local flexibility to fund fellowships is lost. In particular, provincial government agencies feel that valuable financial resources should be restricted to Canadian trainees only, despite the international consensus that fellowship is an essential time for advanced trainees to travel abroad to acquire a broad a range of experience, learn new techniques and approaches, make lifelong research connections, and hopefully return home with these skills and expertise. This article summarizes the long history of EP fellowship training in Canada, as well as EP fellowship experiences at home and abroad by Canadian electrophysiologists, in an attempt to contextualize these new realities.
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