129. Narratives in Cardiology: Celebrating LatinX Representation in Cardiology with Dr. Fidencio Saldana – Massachusetts Chapter

CardioNerds (Amit Goyal and Daniel Ambinder), Dr. Pablo Sanchez (CardioNerds Ambassador, Stanford University Medical Center), Dr. Maria Pabon (CardioNerds Ambassador, Brigham and Women’s Hospital), and Karen Malacon (Student doctor and LMSA co-chair at Stanford University Medical Center) join Dean for Students at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Fidencio Saldana, for an important discussion about Latinx representation in cardiology. We established the multifaceted benefits of diversity in healthcare, including improving access, cultural competency, and quality of care delivered. We also talked about the need to increase the number of underrepresented minority students in medicine in addition to the importance of removing barriers to improve education. By providing appropriate resources as well as early mentorship and exposure to the medical field, we can address the “leaky pipeline,” or as Dr. Saldana reframed it, “the clogged pipeline.”  Then, we dove into Dr. Saldana’s experiences in medical school, the barriers he overcame, and how his parents’ hard work and generosity motivated him to become the cardiologist he is now. This event hosted the ACC Massachusetts Chapter. Stay tuned for a message by chapter Governor Dr. Malissa Wood.

The PA-ACC & CardioNerds Narratives in Cardiology is a multimedia educational series jointly developed by the Pennsylvania Chapter ACC, the ACC Fellows in Training Section, and the CardioNerds Platform with the goal to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in cardiology. In this series, we host inspiring faculty and fellows from various ACC chapters to discuss their areas of expertise and their individual narratives. Join us for these captivating conversations as we celebrate our differences and share our joy for practicing cardiovascular medicine. We thank our project mentors Dr. Katie Berlacher and Dr. Nosheen Reza.

Audio editing by CardioNerds Academy InternDr. Gurleen Kaur.

Video Version • Quotables • Notes • References • Production Team

Video version


We strive to ensure that we have a diverse set of college students and a diverse set of medical students and residents and fellows. But I think it’s also just as important to ensure that we have the resources to ensure that those individuals that we’ve recruited and have done so hard to recruit, continue to succeed.

I’ve realized that you can teach mentoring, you can teach advising. And I think it’s important to be able to create that culture and expectation. Some people may be a little bit better at it than others, but I think it’s important to place an emphasis on that at each level of training, so that you can train to be a better mentor and a better advisor.

Show Notes

1. How is the LatinX representation in medicine compared to in the general population?

  • Based on the most recent data from the US census Bureau, as of 2019, the Hispanic proportion of the US population is about 18.5%.
  • A recent report by the AAMC showed that for the academic year 2020-21, of around 22,000 medical school matriculants, only 11% were from LatinX background, although this number was higher compared to 2017 where only 9.8% of the matriculants were of LatinX origin.  

2. How does increasing workforce diversity improve quality of care?

  • Cultural competency forms an important cornerstone of high-quality and equitable care for a diverse population, and it is learned not by lecture but by exposure, experience, and atmosphere.
  • Medicine involves not only knowledge but meaningful connection and having a physician with a common background enhances the patient-doctor interaction by a spectrum of constructive effects.
  • Inasmuch as research questions are guided by interests of investigators, the inclusion of underrepresented minorities among the pool of investigators stands to better delineate problems and articulate solutions. Actuating the gears of change at state/local governments and health systems to solve issues of access and quality of care will be only benefited by inclusion of medical-trained underrepresented minorities at the table. 

3. How do can we promote diversity in fellowship programs?

  • Participate in and support efforts to promote recruitment of underrepresented minorities for residency and fellowship programs as well as retention at the faculty level.
  • Participate in initiatives focused on mentoring underrepresented minorities early on (high school or college students).
  • Educate ourselves and others about the barriers that underrepresented minorities must overcome such as inadequate housing, food insecurity, and/or financial support.

4. What is the role of mentorship in diversity and inclusion?

  • Mentorship is one of the pillars to diversify our health care workforce. Mentoring one single medical student will translate into exponential beneficial effects for patients.
  • Mentors can help to overcome internal and systemic barriers that students may encounter during their path as early as during high school and college education.
  • Mentorship does not stop after training is complete and should continue at the faculty level.
  • Mentorship and advising can be taught and should be an expectation during training. 


Weinstein DF, Saldana F. DACA and the Dream of Becoming a Physician. N Engl J Med. 2017 Nov 16;377(20):1913-1915. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1713102. Epub 2017 Oct 25. PMID: 29068757.

Cohen JJ, Gabriel BA, Terrell C. The case for diversity in the health care workforce. Health Aff (Millwood). 2002 Sep-Oct;21(5):90-102. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.21.5.90. PMID: 12224912.

AAMC, Matriculants to US medical schools by race. 10/26/2020.    https://www.aamc.org/media/6031/download

Production Team

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