The Ten-Minute Interview with Cary Lunsford,RCIS, FSICP

Whittier, California
Whittier, California
Why did you choose to work in the invasive cardiology field? I love invasive cardiology because the work is never routine. It’s direct contact with the patients that depend on your skills and knowledge. I love the fact that interventional cardiology is constantly changing. The progress is incredible. We now have an arsenal of balloons, wires, stents, thrombectomy and debulking devices for almost any kind of challenge. You really have to have real interest in intervention in order to keep up with the progress in technology and help the physician to make the best decision. Intervention can be so subjective at times. It really helps to attend courses to learn statistics, equipment, and techniques. What was the most bizarre case you have ever been involved in? The most bizarre case I can think of offhand is the time I received a phone call in the middle of the night for an acute MI. When I arrived in the hospital, I was informed that the patient was brain dead. They needed to harvest his organs, including his heart. Since the patient was in his forties, they needed to make sure his coronaries checked out okay and that the heart would be a good one for a heart transplant. It was strange not to even worry about using Lidocaine for the arterial stick. I told the doctor that it was the first time I didn’t hear the patient complain about him or our dumb jokes. Where do you see yourself professionally when it is time to retire? Retire? Are you kidding? With the recent stock market decline?! I think it’s the first time people have been upside-down on their 401(k)s! Kidding aside, my retirement date is 2016. By then, from what I recently witnessed in Paris, at the PCR world conference, the multi-spliced spiral CT scans on the heart will be primary diagnostic way of doing coronary angiograms. As a matter of fact, within three years, the technology will be available. Fortunately, I am not worried about my job. Interventional work will only get even busier. With drug-eluting stents (D.E.S.), we will be doing more multi-vessel interventions, including left main stenting. At the PCR conference, I witnessed percutaneous valve repair and replacement. All done through a catheter! The only thing that we have to worry about is when a pharmaceutical company comes up with the pill and knocks out CAD! That’s the good news and bad news article someone will no doubt be writing someday. Why did you choose to get involved with SICP? I sat on the Board of Directors of CCI (Cardiovascular Credentialing International) for approximately ten years. I actually started serving on the CCI Board as a representative of National Society of Pulmonary Technologists/ National Society of Cardiovascular Technologists (NSPT/NSCT). During this time, the NSCPT/NSCT developed the first scope of practice and standard of care for cardiovascular technologists. The NSPT/NSCT is now known as the Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals (ACVP). I learned quite a lot about what society expects of a credentialing agency and vice-versa, thanks to Julia Hillier. Julia is the Executive Director of CCI. In my opinion, she has a lot to do with the growth and respect we deserve in this field. Also at this time, another professional society of invasive technologists was emerging at a rapid pace. I joined the Society of Invasive Cardiovascular Professionals (SICP) and was later recommended to serve as the SICP representative to CCI’s board. I served in that position from 1998“2000. It was during that period that we, as the Board of CCI, determined that the RCVT credential should have its own specialty designation within cardiovascular technology. The RCVT credential with a specialty in invasive technology was redesignated as the Registered Invasive Cardiovascular Specialist (RCIS). I give Julia credit for keeping her eye on legislative issues and being one step ahead. Christopher Nelson (Past President of the SICP), Julia and I worked with the Board of Directors of CCI to split the three titles of RCVT into the RCIS, RCS (Registered Cardiac Sonographer) and RVS (Registered Vascular Specialist. This was done so insurance carriers could identify the three specialities within cardiovascular technology for reimbursement purposes. What a milestone! How did you become a fellow of the SICP? I applied last year and became a fellow of the SICP. The SICP board reviews all applications and makes the decision on who is qualified enough to receive this honor. To me, it is a validation of the work I did for CCI, ASCP, and SICP as a volunteer, and recognition for the various articles I authored for such publications as Cath Lab Digest, Cath Lab Today, and Advance for Imaging and Oncology. When I see a member with the title FSICP after their name, I know that person has accomplished a lot,and put forth a lot of hard work, and made some considerable contributions to our profession. Your work for SICP is volunteer. What motivates you to continue? My motivation to work and write for SICP is the satisfaction I get by: 1. Being in touch with a group of people who are in the same field and encounter the same problems I do; 2. Staying abreast of current technology and techniques by reading other publications and attending the educational courses offered; 3. Learning even more by doing research and writing articles to be published in Cath Lab Digest. The greatest satisfaction I get is the chance to apply the knowledge I gain for the benefit of the patient and the physician. If you could send a message back to yourself at the beginning of your cath lab career, what advice would you give? My advice would be not to just assume that because someone is a cardiologist or any kind of physician, that they are current in knowledge and techniques. Years ago, we all relied on the doctor to get us through the case if it was complicated and not routine. Today, our whole team is responsible and we all make contributions for the best outcome of the procedure. What changes do you think will occur in the field of cardiology in the coming decades? As I mentioned before, less invasive diagnostic work, and more invasive interventions. Advances in brachytherapy are going to simplify the techniques that establish the best effective treatment in tackling in-stent restenosis. Drug-coated/eluting stents will allow more of a preventative rather than a therapeutic method in dealing with in-stent restenosis, as well as the front-line method of defense against smooth muscle cell and neointimal proliferation. Angiogenesis will someday help those with ischemic myopathies. We are going to have a number of distal protection devices available to help us deal with SVG intervention. Pharmaceutical companies are developing oral strategies that might put us all out of work someday!