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Health system creates cardiovascular fellowship program

December 14, 2015
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Richard McNamara
Richard McNamara. Photo via

A health system is looking to train the next generation of cardiovascular physicians, while honoring one of its own.

Spectrum Health said last week that it will begin a cardiovascular fellowship program in 2017.

"Next logical step"

The program will be named The Richard McNamara Cardiovascular Fellowship Program, after the system's “highly respected” cardiologist Dr. Richard McNamara, who has spent nearly 30 years practicing in West Michigan.

The program is being funded in part through a $5-million endowment created by donors.

Richard Breon, president and CEO, Spectrum Health, said a fellowship program providing “the most comprehensive training possible to the next generation of cardiovascular physicians” is “the next logical step” for the system, which he described as having “a fully integrated heart and vascular program with high volumes.”

Spectrum has selected Dr. Nagib Chalfoun to lead the fellowship program. He is a board-certified cardiologist and electrophysiologist and fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society, who completed his cardiology fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and a clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Fellowship program

The Richard McNamara Cardiovascular Fellowship Program will initially serve three new cardiology fellows a year, with the first cohort expected to start in 2017.

Over time, the program is expected to grow to serve more physician residents looking to specialize in cardiology and cardiovascular medicine.

Cardiology fellowships consist of three years of training in cardiovascular medicine, according to Spectrum.

Spectrum said fellowship programs are considered a necessary component of comprehensive specialty programs and "a key to attracting and recruiting talented physicians."

Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, division chief, cardiovascular medicine, Spectrum Health Medical Group, said the cardiovascular fellowship will be the bedrock for future training programs in cardiothoracic surgery and sub-specialty training, including interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, advanced heart failure and transplant.

He said the program also has important implications for developing additional fellowships in other medical fields and, most importantly, improving patient care.

Elmouchi said an “active fellowship program” is a strong draw for talented residents, particularly internal medicine residents.

“It also raises the level of patient care in other areas, including internal medicine and its sub-specialties,” he said.


McNamara joined Spectrum Health as a staff physician in 1987.

From 2000 to 2011, he held the title of chief of the division of cardiology.

Since 2002, he has also served as Spectrum Health’s medical director of cardiology services.

Since 2010, he has served as one of the founding co-directors of Spectrum Health’s Frederik Meijer Heart & Vascular Institute.

“Rick McNamara is a visionary who put his heart and soul and countless hours into building the extraordinary heart and vascular program we have today,” Elmouchi said.

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