Highlights From the 2017 Women in Cardiology Leadership Workshop

November 22, 2017 | Emily Lau, MD and Nidhi Madan, MD
Career Development

Last month, hundreds of members of the ACC – cardiologists, allied health professionals and FITs – headed to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders to discuss the work that the ACC community has been doing to improve cardiovascular care for their patients. In between meetings with congressmen and congresswomen, the Women in Cardiology (WIC) Section hosted a leadership workshop, aimed at empowering female physicians to lead effectively, negotiate, advocate and network for success. Since most of the members could not make the trip to Washington, DC, it is important to share a few highlights from the workshop.

Pre-Workshop Homework:

Even before the workshop started, keynote speaker Sharonne N. Hayes, MD, FACC, assigned a bit of "homework" to prepare for the session. Take a moment to peruse these quick reads:

The "Crazy/Bitch" Narrative About Senior Academic Women

Balancing Motherhood, Career and Medicine

Project Implicit Website

It was also recommended to complete at least three Implicit Association Tests: (1) Gender-Career, (2) Gender-Science and (3) one or more of your choosing.

Highlights From the Workshop:

Keynote – Advancing Women in Cardiology: Addressing Biases and Barriers Head On
Sharonne N. Hayes, MD, FACC

Sharonne N. Hayes, MD, FACC, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic and expert on cardiovascular disease and prevention in women, discussed the concept of implicit bias and how it impacts patient care and career advancement.

Bias in clinical care:

  • Implicit bias affects the way that we care for our patients. Sometimes we often don't even realize our own biases, but research has shown that bias leads to worse outcomes.
  • For example, a female patient repeatedly comes to your clinic with symptoms of chest tightness. Implicit bias may overlook her symptoms as anxiety or nerves, but she is diagnosed with spontaneous coronary dissection, a rare and frequently undiagnosed condition that affects women out of proportion to men.

Bias in career advancement:

  • Implicit bias is particularly germane in the workforce.
  • When reviewing letters of recommendations for men and women seeking advancement, men were more often described as independent actors or change agents, whereas women were called contributors and team players.

How to address implicit bias:

  • Bias should be framed as a problem and not a moral failing, as bias impairs decision-making.
  • Be mindful of language when giving feedback and writing letters of recommendation.

Secrets to Securing Grant Funding: Tips, Insights and More
Kristin M. Burns, MD; Rachel Lampert, MD, FACC; Ada Stefanescu, MD, MSc

Grant Types in a Nutshell:

  • Fellow Training Grants: T32 (institutional), F31 (individual)
  • Career Development Grants: K awards
  • Research Development Grants: R series (R01, NIH Research Project Grant)
  • Other grant types (less well known): VA Career Development Award, VA Merit Awards and Foundation grants

Tips as you prepare to write your grant application:

  • Talk to the grant program officer as early as possible. They can help guide you through the process and alert you to common pitfalls.
  • Check out the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool, a repository of NIH-funded research projects.
  • Have multiple people read through your application, including individuals who are not in your field of work.

Leadership and Mentoring in Medicine
Eliza Lo Chin, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCSF and executive director of the American Medical Women's Association.

President Eisenhower developed a simple decision-making tool to increase his productivity, now known as the Eisenhower Box.

Separate your actions based on four possibilities

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later)
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate)

Example Eisenhower Box





Do it now.
Patient care.

Schedule a time to do it.
Call family/friends.
Long-term career plan.


Cleaning your house.

Checking social media.
Busy work.

Dancing Your Way to Your Dream Job: Steps Every Woman Cardiologist Needs to Know Claire Duvernoy, MD, FACC; Sandra Lewis, MD, FACC; Poonam Velagapdui, MD, MS; Annabelle Volgman, MD, FACC

  • Negotiate to have at least one administrative day a week.
  • Inquire about the institution's maternity leave policies.
  • Be flexible with work hours. Balance home and work life by working "off" hours (before or after the work day).
  • Engage with male colleagues. It is important to have male "allies" in helping to address gender bias.
  • Practice negotiation discussions and interviews with senior mentors.

This year's WIC workshop was just the beginning of the conversation and journey. It is encouraged that FITs, both men and women, stay engaged with the WIC section.

This article was authored by Emily Lau, MD, Fellow in Training (FIT) at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Nidhi Madan, MD, FIT at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL (guest contributor).