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An Impactful ACHD Journey

Friday, February 18, 2022

By Wayne Franklin, MD

To honor Black History Month, we asked Dr. Wayne Franklin – pioneering ACHD Cardiologist and ACHD Program Founder, ACHA Conference Honorary Co-Chair, and more! – to share his journey. What follows is a breakdown of the steps he took as he became an impactful figure in the CHD community.

College Graduation:

Williams College, where I majored in Chemistry (“because I liked all the lab experiments”) and Political Science (“because I became very interested in politics in college”).

Medical School Graduation:

UCLA. I was one of the few people to say that they had a “great time” in medical school. The TV show ER became a hit and I felt like I was like Noah Wyle’s character, the medical student. Smart and promising, but totally inexperienced.

Residency:

Duke, for Medicine-Pediatrics. I loved caring for children—but I really liked the complex nature of adult medicine. There at Duke, I saw world-class, evidence-based cardiology and I really got inspired. As a resident, one night on-call, I saw a cardiologist bring a patient to the ICU after he just saved his life, and I said, “Wow, I want to be that guy!”

Fellowships:

Texas Children’s/Texas Heart Institute/Baylor in Houston. This was where I really started to find my niche in ACHD. I learned from the best: Drs. Denton Cooley, Charles Mullins, Chuck Fraser, Nancy Ayres, Mike Nihill, Rich Friedman, and Robert Hall, to name a few. We had a long history of great pediatric cardiology and incredible heart surgery… but no ACHD program. So, I started to formulate the ACHD program during my cardiology fellowship.

Career Timeout:

I met the love of my life (my wife Rachel) in 2003 and then married her in 2004. Best decision that I’ve ever made! I’m glad that she said yes!

Career, Continued:

When I finished my fellowship in 2006, I joined the Baylor faculty and stepped right into an ACHD Program that I designed (with a lot of help in input from my mentors!).

Early Career:

I continued to build the first ACHD program in Texas (at Texas Children’s Hospital) and gain clinical experience.

Career timeout:

Rachel and I had our first child in 2008 and then a second in 2011, and so I adjusted to life as a father while still trying to be an academic cardiologist. That journey still continues today!

Career, continued:

While in Texas, I started our ACHD fellowship program in 2009 (and then hired my first three fellows!), became board certified in ACHD, and then obtained ACHA ACHD Accreditation for our program in 2017. What a busy 11 years!

Mid-career:

In 2018, I was recruited to be the Co-Director of the Heart Center and the Director of ACHD at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I was excited to have this opportunity to help lead a fantastic group at a hospital and heart center that was on the move. And the city of Phoenix offered great weather (with no natural disasters!) and tremendous outdoor activities (it seems like everyone hikes or plays golf!). I’m very proud that Phoenix Children’s was granted ACHA ACHD Accreditation in 2020, and we were the first (and still the ONLY) hospital in the state with this achievement.

Current State:

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the last three years have been difficult for everyone, and healthcare workers have been particularly challenged. On top of that, the racial unrest and protests of 2020 have again demonstrated the continued challenges that we face as a country. So, being a Black physician, I am constantly aware of my obligation to help my community but to also be a good role model and example for the future generations.

However, as the saying goes, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” That said, at Phoenix Children’s, we have been able to get some important things accomplished during this period: we firmly established our telehealth program, incorporated virtual stethoscopes into our telehealth visits, and established family advisory councils to help us hear and develop programs that our families want. And, at both Phoenix Children’s and UArizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, we also realize the importance of diversity and inclusiveness at all levels of healthcare and education.

Overall, it’s been an amazing, enjoyable, stimulating, and wonderful career. But I have so much more to do!

 

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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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