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Dr Johnathon White

Jonathon's Heart Foundation fellowship took him to Columbia University Medical Centre which is an international leader in advanced structural heart interventions, particularly in transcatheter valve implantation.

Dr Johnathon White

After earning his medical degree from the University of Otago, Dr Jonathon White completed four years of subspecialty training before heading to New York in 2014 with a Heart Foundation Overseas Training Fellowship.

"My earlier training had focused on intervention in the coronary arteries, whereas the training in New York focused more on valve and other types of structural heart interventions."

"I was able to gain a very concentrated experience and was exposed to a very high volume of procedures in a short period of time," explains Dr White.

He says that New Zealand is often an early adopter of new technologies but doesn't always have the same volumes of work to give physicians the experience to provide superior healthcare.

"To provide world-class healthcare, New Zealand doctors need the opportunity to work with a high volume of patients and work in larger teams so they can see different styles and different techniques. That's what Heart Foundation fellowships can do.

Dr Johnathon White

He says Heart Foundation overseas fellowships like his give physicians access to a very condensed and enriched clinical experience that could otherwise take years to develop.

"We have vastly experienced physicians in New Zealand. But with respect to highly specialised problems, it's not actually so much about the physicians – it's about the patients and the number of patients that we are able to treat."

Dr White credits the Heart Foundation fellowship for gaining valuable experience at a world-leading medical centre like Columbia University.

"At the stage that I left New Zealand, I don't think I could have received the training that I did, there just wasn't the volume of work at that time.

"To look after so many patients with valvular heart disease at that stage of my career allowed me to develop my skills quickly and increase the range of treatment options that I could offer back home.

"When one is training, it's very hard to go past the sheer volume of experience. I mean these are things that can't be learned from books. You must be mentored, and you must be trained in those techniques. That takes time and it takes deep immersion and those are the greatest experiences I took from my time at Columbia."

– Jonathon White, interventional cardiologist and Heart Foundation fellowship recipient