For the media

A discussion on women in cardiology

By The Health News Team | March 30, 2022
Drs Dawood and Nishimura of Sharp HealthCare

Drs. Farah Dawood and Marin Nishimura can personally relate to the female-specific risk factors and concerns of cardiovascular disease.

Drs. Farah Dawood and Marin Nishimura share a passion for medicine that is rooted in the desire to help others lead healthier lives. The two doctors, both cardiologists affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Burr Heart and Vascular Center, share their thoughts on choosing a career in medicine and the unique perspectives they bring to the profession.

What motivated you to enter medicine — specifically cardiology?

Dr. Dawood: I wanted to become a physician to help people, which may sound like a cliché, but it truly was my intent. I specifically went into cardiology after my mother had a myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack) on my first day in medical school. Since I am very close to my mother, that moment of extreme vulnerability sparked my interest in women’s health, particularly heart health.

Dr. Nishimura: During my undergraduate studies in biology, my favorite thing I learned was cardiovascular physiology. Nonetheless, after college, my plan was to pursue research instead of becoming a clinician. After shadowing a local physician, however, the relationship and the trust that he built with his patients — combined with the science behind clinical medicine —made me decide to pursue medical school instead. Once in medical school, cardiology was an obvious choice for me. Cardiology beautifully combines the scientific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics into clinical practice.

Have you had mentors along your career path?

Dr. Dawood: I’ve had several mentors throughout my career. They were essential and helped me pave a path for myself and my interests in cardiac disease. I am also a mentor to women in medicine.

Dr. Nishimura: When I look back on my career path thus far, the people I consider mentors are the ones that noticed I was either struggling or lacking in confidence. I think no one achieves their goals on their own. Every single person will face an obstacle or failure at one time or another. Those mentors that were there for me at my low points gave me the push I needed to make my way forward. I also make an effort to do the same for the younger generations trying to make their own dreams come true.

Do you think that your gender affects the way you practice medicine?

Dr. Dawood: I think the fact that I am a woman — plus a daughter, sister and mother — helped me relate to my patients in a very different way than my male counterparts can relate. I also have a mother that suffered from cardiac disease, which helps me uniquely connect with my patients and their families.

Dr. Nishimura: I am passionate about educating my female patients about their cardiovascular risk and the appropriate treatment. Furthermore, due to my gender, I feel I can relate more to the female-specific risk factors related to cardiovascular disease and the issues that may arise. For example, I know the use of medications while pregnant and nursing can be a very sensitive topic. I can approach these issues with sensitivity.

What excites you most about your career?

Dr. Dawood: When my patients come back to the clinic after an intervention and say, “Doc, I feel great!” The smiles on patients' faces and the sense of relief their families have after they feel their loved one’s health is improved is a very unique thing in medicine. And I get to experience it daily.

Dr. Nishimura: Cardiology is an ever-evolving field with constant innovations and life-saving discoveries. It excites me to remain up to date on these advances to improve the quality of life for my patients and to allow them to live long, healthy lives.

What advice would you give to other women entering medicine?

Dr. Dawood: Follow your dreams and love what you do!

Dr. Nishimura: Do not let anybody decide what you can or cannot do. Nothing is impossible! As an immigrant — I moved to the United States as a preteen — I always felt my accented English and immigration status would ultimately get in the way of my aspirations. I wish I didn’t let the limitations set by others determine what I set out to achieve early in my journey. With the right support, determination and discipline, absolutely anything is possible.

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