Feature | Insights Into the 2016 WIC Section Leadership Workshop

This article was authored by Gina Lundberg, MD, FACC, clinical director of the Emory Women's Heart Center and assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, GA.

Over 75 members of ACC’s Women in Cardiology (WIC) Section met in Washington, DC for the 3rd annual Leadership Workshop. The workshop had its highest attendance yet and met prior to the ACC Legislative Conference. The WIC Section Leadership Council Chair Claire Duvernoy, MD, FACC, served as the chair of the workshop, along with Co-Chairs Annabelle Volgman, MD, FACC, and Sandra Lewis, MD, FACC, immediate past chair of the WIC Section.

The WIC Leadership Workshop faculty were all outstanding speakers and highly informative. Reshma Jagsi, MD, PhD, showed statistics that confirm women are underrepresented in leadership roles in the medical profession and underpaid compared to men. She encouraged women to share information about disparities in research funding and salaries for women with our institutions. We must demand equal compensation for all women in private practice, academics, research and industry. We need to be good role models for women in training and encourage them to consider fields where women are underrepresented.

Despite women making up half of all medical school students, women make up only approximately 13 percent in cardiology. Dr. Jagsi has published multiple articles on gender and career outcomes of academic physicians and gender differences in salary for physicians. Dr. Jagsi, Pam Douglas, MD, MACC, and others published an article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2015 that highlighted a significant difference in work activities and compensation of male and female cardiologists. Female cardiologists make nearly $32,000 less than male cardiologist after adjusting for time, type of work and other factors.

Robert Harrington, MD, MACC spoke on “Balancing Missions in Academic Medicine: Principles of Compensation and Creation of a New Plan”. Dr. Harrington is the first male member of the WIC Leadership Council and a great supporter of women in cardiology. The WIC Section Leadership Council supports including men in our section in an effort to make changes to improve gender equality. His presentation focused on current payment models, barriers to change, speaking out for equal pay and narrowing the gender gap in cardiology. He said that making changes to the compensation formula can be very painful for physicians and administrators alike.

Financial advice was also a focus at this year’s event. Many strong, independent female cardiologists feel uninformed and out of their comfort zones when it comes to finances. Integer Wealth Advisors Group advisors Thomas A. Foglia, CPA, PFS, and Saverio N. Paglioni, CIMA, shared information on how to reduce taxable income, protect investments from taxes and retirement planning. When it comes to retirement savings, start early and save often. They gave advice for charitable contributions through stock options and gift funds. They encouraged us to get involved with our financial portfolios and plan for our financial futures.

A panel discussion on “Unique Challenges Facing Women in Private Practice” was led by Toniya Singh, MD, FACC. Panel members included Devyani Chowdhury, MD, FACC; Rachana Kulkarni, MD FACC; Dipti Itchhaporia, MD, FACC; and Kamala Tamirisa, MD, FACC. These women’s career choices ranged from group practice, solo practice, academic and hospital employee physicians. They each shared their hurdles and struggles to be successful cardiologists. They also shared words of encouragement and personal stories that motivated the attendees. We are all different and yet we all support personal growth, professional development and mentoring. We need to support all women in cardiology and medicine so that none of us faces discrimination or salary disparity.

Many women in cardiology hate to deal with conflict or difficult conversations. C. Michael Valentine, MD, FACC, shared successful ways to have a difficult or confrontational encounter with coworkers or staff. His presentation, “Navigating Crucial Conversations,” was intended to help us avoid sleepless nights and discomfort over conflict. Don’t approach any one publically or when you feel angry or frustrated. Stay calm and voice your concerns without getting emotional. Dr. Valentine explained the good “intent” of your conversation may have a negative “impact” on your coworker. He suggested finding the appropriate time to sit down and listen to the other side of the conversation. We should invite the other person to meet, ask for input, mutually work together to solve the issue, discuss possible solutions, and then focus on a plan to move forward.

This year’s WIC Section Leadership Workshop was outstanding in content and delivery. Drs. Duvernoy, Lewis, and Volgman did a fantastic job planning the event and bringing together an excellent program. Very special thanks to Olivia Kranz, ACC staff liaison to the WIC Section, who helped plan and organize the event. Thank you all for another workshop to improve our members’ leadership skills, reduce gender differences in leadership and salary, improve gender disparities and improve challenges in the work place. We all need insight on how we can be more successful personally and lead more effectively.