10-Minute Interview: Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC

Interview by Jodie Elrod

Interview by Jodie Elrod

Tell us about your medical background and how you came to work in the field of electrophysiology. What interested you about this field?

I graduated valedictorian at North Carolina State University with a degree in biochemistry. I received a full scholarship to attend Wake Forest University School of Medicine. I graduated in the top 5 of my class, and did an internship and residency at the University of Virginia. I then went to Duke University for my cardiology and EP fellowships. I initially went to Duke with an intent on becoming an interventional Fellow. However, After an EP rotation in my first year, I met with Dr. Marcus Wharton (chief of EP at that time) and decided to pursue an EP fellowship at Duke. I was particularly attracted to the combination of complex problem solving, invasive procedures, and the ability to make life-changing interventions in the lives of my patients. For me, the variety of ablation, device therapy, and clinic time was particularly appealing. As an EP, I felt I truly had an opportunity to reduce mortality in my patients through device therapy.

Describe your work as an electrophysiologist at Wake Heart and Vascular. What is a typical day like for you?

I have a very busy clinical practice. I have an academic appointment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I spend two days a week in the office seeing patients, and the rest of my time is spent doing procedures. It is not uncommon for me to perform 15–25 procedures in a given week. I am also actively involved in clinical trial work and other research endeavors. I also spend time teaching students and other trainees both in our office and in our EP lab. A typical day for me starts at 5am. I usually work online for an hour, reviewing the latest literature and major media outlets such as The New York Times. I then spend time tweeting and posting blog entries reflecting current issues in EP. I get to the hospital around 7:30am, make rounds, and start procedures. On days I have patients to see in the office, I run over to the office for a clinic session. If there are no office patients, I will remain in the lab doing cases for most of the day. At the end of the day, I make rounds to check on post-op patients, and then spend some time online reviewing any other developments in the literature. I typically end the day with a few more tweets or blog entries.

What is one of the more memorable EP cases that you have worked on?

I have had the privilege of caring for many wonderful patients over the years. One case in particular was a patient who was an elite track and field athlete. At a competition, he collapsed during a sprint and had a VF arrest. He was successfully revived due to an onsite AED. We evaluated him and found him to have myocardial sarcoidosis, which is an infiltrative process whereby normal ventricular tissue is replaced with fibrous tissue. This can lead to reentry-based ventricular tachycardias. The infiltrative process is progressive. At EPS, he had several different morphologies of VT. We ablated the most predominant forms that we thought were clinically relevant, and subsequently placed an ICD for secondary prevention. He was able to resume competition (given that he had an ICD), and remained at a very elite level.

How did your website at “http://drkevincampbellmd.com” come about? What are your goals for the website?

I began to embrace the idea of social media, and a website seemed like the best anchor for my social media presence. I wanted a place that coordinated all of my online cyber activities including my blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, and LinkedIn. I envisioned a place where patients, physicians, industry, and others could go and find what they needed. I spent a great deal of time looking at websites from all different industries and found what appealed to me. I then met with a web designer with a great national reputation, and together we designed it. I am proud to say that I wrote all of the copy myself! My goals for the website include: 1) Spreading the word about the risk of sudden death in women and disparities of care, 2) Providing a resource for patients, industry and other physicians and healthcare providers, 3) Providing a “home base” for my social media presence — a place to find out about all that I am involved in, and 4) Promoting my EP practice as well as my consulting, educational, and research activities.

Describe your work with physicians-in-training and helping them to prepare for the transition to practice. What are some of your tips for success in the transition to practice?

I have had the pleasure of speaking to Fellows in Training all across the country over the last six or seven years. ACGME fellowship training does a great job of preparing fellows for the science and clinical aspects of practice. However, current training falls short in preparing Fellows for the business of medicine. In my symposia, I try to fill in the gap by providing specific training in marketing, business development and contract negotiations. I provide the tools they will need for successful practice in both academic and private practice settings. I teach Fellows about the concept of the Physician Executive — a great clinician who is also savvy with spreadsheets. In addition, I provide education on billing and coding and medical-legal/malpractice issues. My biggest tip for emerging physicians is to be humble, agile, and responsive to changing work environments as well as aggressive in marketing your practice and your individual skill sets.

Discuss your work in addressing the disparities in cardiovascular (CV) care between men and women, including your work with OB/GYNs in screening women for cardiovascular disease.

I have been involved in a campaign to promote women’s CV health over the last seven to eight years. As we know, women are treated differently than men. Men are more aggressively screened and seem to be treated with more advanced technologies. I have created a Women’s CV Health Symposium designed to address these disparities. Many women only see their OB/GYN physician for care, so I have developed an educational symposium targeted at these OB/GYNs. I teach them about CV disease in women and give them easy-to-use screening tools. In addition, I have symposia targeted at women themselves. I teach females about assessing and modifying their own CV risks. I talk about empowering women to make a change and reduce their own risk for CV illness and sudden cardiac death (SCD). Through promoting education and awareness in physicians, patients, and potential patients, I hope to reduce the incidence of CV disease and SCD in women.

Tell us about your experience using Twitter. For example, when did you create the Twitter feed, and why? What have been some of the challenges thus far?

Social media (or “SoMe” as it is known in the twittosphere) is the future of medicine. It is a place where physicians and other healthcare providers can share ideas and opinions. It is also a place where many patients now go for information. Physicians, patients, industry, and regulatory bodies can interact here and discuss topics of interest. There are a few EP docs who are very active in SoMe, and we are working to create sessions about SoMe at upcoming HRS meetings. We’re even hoping to have a session included at HRS 2013. The biggest challenge for Twitter and other SoMe outlets is time. To be successful and engaged, you must tweet several times a day and be aware of ongoing issues and current literature. It is an enormous time commitment, but well worth the effort. Blogging is another incredibly time-consuming activity. To be successful, a blog needs to be current and engaging. It must be updated a minimum of twice a month. I strive for more, although not always successfully.

What advancements do you hope to see in the field of cardiac electrophysiology in the next few years? What specific areas of EP and/or patient care need more attention?

I think that EP is an exciting and quickly changing field — that is one of the reasons I love it. Going forward, I expect more advances in technologies that allow us to do cases with minimal fluoroscopy. In addition, I see more advanced CHF therapies and monitoring devices on the horizon. One of the biggest challenges I see is dealing with device and lead failures and recalls. As a society, EP docs and the HRS must work diligently to provide expert consensus statements on how to manage particular lead or device recalls and advisories in a very efficient and directed way. We need to be able to get recommendations out to clinicians as quickly as possible. We cannot wait for industry to take the lead in this arena.

What advice would you give to others in EP who are currently at the start of their career? Also, what are your favorite medical social media sites or the ones you find most helpful?

New EP docs must be ready to embrace social media. Technology and SoMe are the way medicine will be practiced in the future. That being said, MDs must remember to provide a human connection with their patients — don’t forget to interact and connect on a personal basis. This is what makes an EP doctor a “healer.” Patients appreciate this and expect that from their physician. As for SoMe, I think the most important site or format is the one that you are committed to and able to provide ongoing participation and content. For me, Twitter has been the biggest platform (along with my blog). I strongly encourage Fellows to create a website to serve as a home base to link all your SoMe presence together as well as a platform to market your skills and develop your niche. Please take a look at my site as an example.

What aspects of your work do you find most rewarding?

For me, the most rewarding aspect of my job is when I am able to see a tangible impact on the lives of my patients. For example, my favorite office interaction happens when a patient who previously had Class 3 CHF comes walking energetically into the office for a checkup after a BiV ICD is placed. I love to see the happiness and relief on the faces of the patient and family when they have transitioned from debilitating CHF symptoms to Class 1 symptoms — it is truly amazing to witness the transformation.

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Dr. Campbell is with Wake Heart and Vascular (WHV) in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also Assistant Professor at UNC Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, and Director of Electrophysiology at Johnston Health. In addition, Dr. Campbell is President of K-Roc Consulting, LLC.