Interview with Melissa Morello, MD
What Fellowship Program are you currently enrolled in?
I am currently in my third year of fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
What sets this Program apart? Why do you enjoy it?
Cincinnati Children's is a moderate-sized program in terms of volume (though this has grown since I started) and accepts five fellows per year. This program invests a great deal in their fellows and was the only program with a fully-funded research support team. They will also pay for you to complete a Master of Science in Biostatistics if you choose to do so. They also have two to three hours of dedicated conference learning daily, including a weekly pathology conference with human heart specimens that we can examine and review with expert anatomists and pathologists.
How did the Med-Peds Pathway position you to be a successful candidate for the Fellowship?
Med-Peds at UH/Case Western Reserve University was absolutely instrumental in my success as a fellow in pediatric cardiology. Though all of our patients have congenital heart disease, we have a growing adult population who we care for here at Children's and in combination with their congenital heart disease, they are often complex patients that require diligent care. We also have the highest acuity of patients in the hospital within our cardiac intensive care unit and cardiac step down unit, and because of my significant residency experience with critically ill patients (mostly on the adult side), I was able to dive right in and perform procedures and manage multiple complex patients in the cardiac ICU. Notably, I recently led a three-hour code situation in the middle of the night on an adult Fontan patient with severe left ventricular dysfunction who had PEA arrest and ultimately was placed on ECMO, during which I also placed central lines, an IO line and needle decompressed his lung. After a three-month hospital stay, he suffered no neurological sequelae and had a left ventricular assist device placed which allowed him to be discharged home. I fully credit my residency experience in learning how to calmly and systematically run an adult code on a critically ill patient with allowing me to quite naturally step into that role despite my exhaustion and save that young man's life.
What do you plan to do after finishing the Fellowship Program?
After my core fellowship, I plan to complete a second two-year fellowship in Adult Congenital Heart Disease.
What would you advise current Med-Peds Residents to focus on to maximize their chances of matching at competitive institutions?
I would advise current med-peds residents to try to go above and beyond with their research efforts in order to have publications and research ideas coming into fellowship, apply for research grants during fellowship that they can transfer to their new institution, and really use your mentors and faculty in the subspecialty to which you are applying to vouch for you, make calls and emails on your behalf. The other strategy I had was to systematically look up every person I was interviewing with at an institution, read through their CV on the hospital website, look over some of their research publications and make notes on them the night before my interview. Then, the day of the interview, faculty are very impressed when you know about THEM, and you can also use questions or similarities in your training (they went to some university that you or faculty at your current institution went to) or research to fill in those awkward lulls that inevitably happen. Your interviews should be as much about you interviewing the program as it is about them interviewing you. Be confident. Be passionate. Be on time.