My Experience as a First-Time Attendee of the WIC Leadership Workshop

October 19, 2016 | Deepika Narasimha, MD
Career Development

ACC's 2016 Legislative Conference held in Washington, DC, marked the 25th anniversary of the event. This annual session brings together various cardiovascular professionals from all over the country to advocate for patients and the cardiovascular team on Capitol Hill. On the first day of the conference various section and council meetings were held at the Heart House and the Fairmont hotel in D.C, including the Women in Cardiology (WIC) Leadership Workshop. As an FIT, this was my first time attending a WIC workshop and I was excited to meet other female cardiologists and FITs from various parts of the country. Multiple different issues pertinent to women in cardiology were addressed in this highly interactive workshop.

The session started off with a fantastic talk on gender disparity in medicine by Reshma Jagsi, MD, highlighting the salary gap between male and female physicians. Dr. Jagsi, an associate professor in the department of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, is also a well acclaimed research investigator in social policy. Her work has focused on studying female representation in senior positions in academics and research, barriers to their advancement, and measures that can help resolve this disparity.

Following her talk, Robert Harrington, MD, MACC, the chair of the department of medicine at Stanford, discussed issues with current compensation plans in academic medicine. He pointed out that while assessing productivity on the basis of RVUs might be pretty straightforward, assessing compensation for other roles including medical leadership and directorship can be challenging. He also described a recent exercise carried out at Stanford under his leadership where they looked at compensation plans across the department of Medicine paying particular attention to groups of people who have often been treated differently in terms of compensation, such as women and minorities. He stressed that both men and women, particularly people in leadership positions should recognize and address these disparities in order to help level the playing field. After this we had an informative session on managing taxes, and retirement planning. Lesson learned – no better time to start planning for retirement than now!

In the later part of the workshop, we had a panel discussion on challenges faced by women cardiologists interested in private practice by a group of fantastic female cardiologists lead by Toniya Singh, MD, FACC. They offered great insight into the world of private practice, contract negotiations and the ever elusive work-family balance. Having been in training at academic centers for the past several years, this session was very informative for me as a cardiology fellow and provided an introduction to the different models of private practice, the changes anticipated with MACRA, and highlighted the importance of negotiating your contract upfront to ensure your needs are addressed.

Following this, we had a great session on navigating crucial conversations by C. Michael Valentine, MD, FACC, vice president of the ACC. He gave us excellent pointers on how to have that 'tough' conversation, be it with a co-worker or a boss. The difference between the 'intent' and the 'impact' of your conversation, exploring the other person's story, and mutual problem solving were some of the important concepts he illustrated.

There were ample opportunities for Q&A throughout the workshop. The best part for me really was getting to meet and speak with female cardiologists and FITs from all over the country. The WIC committee is passionate about encouraging more female medical students and residents to pursue cardiology as a career choice and offers support and guidance to female FITs to help enhance their careers. This was an intimate and highly interactive session, and the level of support and camaraderie I experienced at this meeting was unlike any other.

There is a strong need for female mentorship and leadership in cardiology, and WIC workshops like the one in DC provide a great opportunity to interact with potential mentors. I can't wait to participate in similar WIC meetings in my state and at the annual scientific meetings. Looking forward to the next WIC workshop!

This article was authored by Deepika Narasimha, MD, a Fellow in Training (FIT) at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, CA.