Dr. Anthony Tang



Mentor pictures Anthony

Anthony Tang, MD, FRCPC
Professor - Department of Medicine
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Western University
Today, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Trainee Committee had the opportunity to interview Dr. Anthony Tang and ask him to share some of his wisdom.

Dr. Anthony Tang is Professor of Medicine at Western University and Adjunct Professor of Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Tang is presently Staff Electrophysiologist at the London Health Science Centre and Chair of Cardiovascular Population Health. He graduated from medical school from the University of Toronto, completed his Internal Medicine and Cardiology training at the University of Ottawa, and completed his electrophysiology research training at Duke University Medical Centre. Dr. Tang is a clinician and internationally renowned researcher in arrhythmia. He has conducted multi-national, multicentre clinical trials, has been an invited speaker at national and international meetings, and has been widely published.

Trainee: Dr. Tang, would you be able to walk us through what led you to your current career?
Dr. Tang: It goes way back. Even as a teenager, what appealed to me about every aspect of life was trying to learn and understand things. I have always been interested in getting to the root cause and comprehending rather than memorizing. My undergraduate was in science, mostly mathematics. Preclerkship was tough because it was all about memory work, but eventually I found that some areas of medicine, especially cardiology, required logical and mechanistic thinking, which was appealing. In medical school, I started collecting ECGs and making slides, such that by the time I finished medical school, it was pretty evident that I wanted to become a cardiologist. Electrophysiology was an extension of that as a very logical subspecialty of cardiology. It also requires a combination of different skill sets: the cerebral aspect of considering mechanisms of disease processes and the tactile expertise.
Trainee: What is your current balance of clinical, teaching, and research duties?

Dr. Tang: I do a mixture of clinical practice, research, and education. Doing the same thing over and over again every day would be boring for me. This mixture makes work fun and exciting, but it also requires a lot of work. I enjoy clinical care for the patient engagement and making a meaningful difference on a day to day basis. I enjoy engaging the next generation of physicians through teaching. And I view research as an extension of everyday work, allowing me to impact the future of patient care, which you cannot do on a day to day basis at the bedside. What I find exciting is seeing medicine evolve.

Trainees: How do you balance your clinical and research duties?
Dr. Tang: The general rule of thumb for a person to be successful in the research is to spend at least 50% of your time on research. The percentage is traditionally higher for basic science compared to clinical research, because in clinical research, you can “double dip” with the time you spend on your clinical duties also contributing to your research – I use that to my advantage. I do quite a bit of clinical work, at least 50%, but when I perform procedures in the lab, I am also conducting research at the same time. 
Trainee: What advice do you have for future cardiologists?
Dr. Tang: Cardiology has evolved a lot in my career. You need to be able to adapt to changes in your specialty. Learning just one skill and staying with it is not enough; you must continually acquire knowledge to remain relevant. For example, in my career, I have had to retrain and take clinical trial design and statistics courses and learn new ablation techniques. I predict that the future of cardiology would involve epigenetics and individualized medicine and physicians need to remain abreast with new developments.
Trainee: How can trainees prepare themselves for the expectations and qualifications to become a researcher in this day and age?
Dr. Tang: A master’s degree such as in epidemiology would be very useful, if not essential, in the current climate. You also need to ensure that you ask clinically meaningful questions for the advancement of healthcare. It is difficult because you need to project your questions many years into the future because research takes time to consult.

Trainee: Thank you for your time, Dr. Tang. Any last pieces of advice for trainees?

Dr. Tang: First, continuously asking questions, learning, and evolving would be the most important lesson. Second, to be a good researcher, you need to be a good writer, and that takes commitment. There are tremendous researchers who were not good writers to start, but they committed themselves on paper, learnt, and improved over time. Third, you need to consider work life balance because you cannot do everything. I enjoy my job but it is a lot of work and the right balance is different for everyone.