“It’s really positive that there are now more opportunities in this area that allow you to work more closely with patients, and it’s an industry and profession that needs to be promoted more”.
Cardiac Physiologist and scholarship recipient Kojo Kyereme is in the second year of his two-year Masters in Sports Cardiology. His scholarship and previous role at the Cardiology clinic at St George’s hospital have allowed him to gain valuable experience in this field of work, leading to a role in Aspetar Hospital in Doha, Qatar – which he started at the beginning of this year. In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, his degree has been extended to December 2021, so he continues to fit his studies around his new role. We caught up with Kojo to talk about careers in sports cardiology and how his degree at St George’s has helped him develop key skills for a career as a Cardiac Physiologist.
Tell us a bit about your role
“I have been working at Aspetar Hospital, Qatar as a Cardiac Physiologist in the Sports Medicine department since the beginning of this year. I really enjoy the patient contact involved in this type of role. Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine hospital is on the same site as the venue of the 2019 World Athletics Championships, which boasts a sports academy for aspiring youngsters so it allows me to work closely with the athletes who train there.
“My new job title is Cardiac Physiologist (which falls under Healthcare Science). My role involves undertaking sports screening on professional and recreational athletes at Aspetar. Our primary clients are professional athletes from Qatar’s Domestic and National Teams across Football, Handball, Athletics and Volleyball to name a few. Athletes have an initial screening with a Sports Screening nurse who reviews a prefilled questionnaire and undertakes a small number of tests such as height, weight, and a resting ECG (Electrocardiogram).
“Following this, depending on the requirements of the sports team, the athlete may have a dental check and chest x-ray before having a Echocardiogram with myself. Depending on the outcome of what I find, the age of the athlete plus any presenting symptoms revealed on the questionnaire further testing maybe undertaken. I would typically proceed to perform an exercise stress test and fit the athlete with an Ambulatory BP (blood pressure) and ECG monitoring to check for arrhythmias for 24hrs which I would analyse upon return. Once all the results have been collated the athlete would have a consultation with a Sports Medicine Doctor. For some athletes this process may be an annual screen as per the requirements of their sporting organization or it may be prior to a signing of a new contract.
“In addition to my role and completing my MSc I am actively involved in other research projects with others in my hospital. My MSc thesis incidentally is about the Prevalence of myocarditis affecting Athletes’ hearts post- Covid-19".
What drew you to a career in sports cardiology?
“I was always interested in Science and anatomy, and always followed what I was interested in. In the 90s, this field of work was not well-known. It’s really positive that there are now more opportunities in this area that allow you to work more closely with patients, and it’s an industry and profession that needs to be promoted more. My Undergraduate degree at Roehampton was in sports cardiology and prior to this I’d also studied on a scholarship in the US. Outside of work, I am also a semi-professional long-distance runner, so have always been interested in sports”.
What made you choose St George’s for your Postgraduate degree?
“I currently work as the lead Cardiac Physiologist (Echo Cardiography) at St George’s. A few of the consultants I work with also lecture in sports cardiology. Several of my colleagues are also alumni, so there’s a lot of crossover. I already had a background in sports cardiology, and following a conversation with one of the course lecturers I decided to look further into it. I was really interested to find out what sort of opportunities the course could lead to”.
What do you like the most about studying at St George’s?
“I really like the friendly atmosphere at St George’s, and the cohesion of students. I have found staff at St George’s to be really supportive of my learning needs. As I also work full-time, it’s really helpful to be able to access library materials to work remotely, and being next door to the hospital has allowed me to access some really valuable resources”.
How did your degree at St George’s help you get into your current role?
“Sports Cardiology is a specialized area within Cardiology. Athletes hearts remodel in such a way that a misdiagnosis of a condition can be made, as the character of some athlete adaptations can mimic that of something pathological when it could be innocent. Therefore, the skill to differentially diagnose is key to stratifying the risk of sudden death. The Sports Cardiology MSc has given me extra tools to adapt my existing qualifications to be able to practice proficiently and competently.
“My experience of working and studying at St George’s has given me a greater understanding of congenital heart diseases. Working at the clinic at St George’s hospital has helped me to relate to patients who have inherited heart diseases. My background in sports research, as well as my own passion for sport and my sporting attributes, also helped lead to a positive interview for the new role.
“If you are interested in a career in cardiac physiology, you can find out more by taking the opportunity to contact an NHS Cardiac Investigation department to arrange a visit and to shadow a cardiac physiologist and see the various pathways/specialist areas a career in cardiac physiology has to offer. Cardiac Physiology encompasses specialist areas of Pacing, Cath Lab, Echocardiography and Non Invasive Cardiology”.
More information on courses:
Practitioner Training Program (PTP) (BSc, undergraduate)
Scientist Training Programme (STP) (MSc, postgraduate)