Feature | Empowering Mid-Career Women Through Leadership Development, Community Building
The women in this room are truly the face of cardiology," said ACC CEO Cathleen C. Gates in kicking off the most recent in-person meeting of the ACC's Sandra J. Lewis Mid-Career Women's Leadership Institute. The participants in the room, who are all part of the Leadership Institute's inaugural cohort, responded in resounding applause.
The Leadership Institute, launched in 2021, is built on a vision of providing empowerment, inclusion and community for women at a stage in their careers where support can help them achieve more and impact the future of cardiovascular care and delivery.
Born from the ACC's 2020 Campaign for the Future and made possible by a transformational gift from Sandra J. Lewis, MD, FACC, the Leadership Institute is a key part of the College's strategic priorities to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as foster the future of the cardiovascular profession.
I've never had a cohort of women who are of my age and my generation where we support each other and can reflect and share experiences about our career development.
– Min Hui Chen, MD, FACC
The latest meeting took place July 17-18 at Heart House, marking the halfway point of the inaugural cohort's first year in the two-year program. The theme for July's meeting was "Propelling Self While Leading Others," covering topics such as vulnerability, personal values, grounded confidence and skills/tools for navigating conflict.
"Watching the engagement and growth of this cohort over the course of this year has been inspiring and humbling," Lewis said. "I hope they will be able to take away valuable lessons and implement new skills to help in their career goals, as well as grow their involvement at the College."
For Min Hui Chen, MD, FACC, the Leadership Institute has already proved to be a transformative experience. The program does more than fill the niche of supporting mid-career women develop into the next stage of their careers, she said. It has also been inspiring her to operationalize her beliefs and values in new ways, such as applying for ACC's Cardio-Oncology Leadership Council.
"I've never had a cohort of women who are of my age and my generation where we support each other and can reflect and share experiences about our career development," Chen added. Margo Vassar, MD, FACC, echoed the value of the cohort experience and the power of building a community with other like-minded women, particularly when learning – and unlearning – concepts such as vulnerability in medicine.
As women in medicine, we're taught to completely squash [vulnerability], and now we're realizing it's a skill that's actually quite empowering.
– Margo Vassar, MD, FACC
"As women in medicine, we're taught to completely squash [vulnerability], and now we're realizing it's a skill that's actually quite empowering," she said. Vassar added that leadership is a learned skill that many women have not been taught before.
"Historically, women from a young age are not placed on tracks for leadership, but somehow once we're doctors it's assumed that we can be leaders," Vassar said. "But the assumption that just because you are smart means you can be a leader is completely false. So, it's great to be learning alongside other women with many of the same experiences up to this point." Vassar is also thinking ahead about how she can pass this knowledge along to the next generation of cardiologists.
"I'm looking forward to taking these lessons back to my own trainees so they don't have to deal with the hardship, confusion and loneliness that this career path can hold," she said. "I want to make others' paths easier, and everything I'm learning here is empowering me do so effectively."
The final in-person meeting of the Leadership Institute will take place Oct. 14-15, leading into ACC's Legislative Conference 2022.
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This leadership program is just one example of how the ACC is working to develop the workforce and the leaders for tomorrow. Click here to learn more and find the home that supports your journey.
Click here to learn more about this Leadership Institute and a list of the women in the inaugural cohort.
Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, ACC History
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