Chapter Engagement | ACC Georgia Chapter WIC Meeting

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During the annual ACC Georgia Chapter meeting, which recently took place in Greensboro, GA, members from the ACC Women in Cardiology (WIC) Section gathered for a special event of their own. Female physicians at every career stage were present, including Fellows in Training (FITs), residents and late-career cardiologists such as renowned leader Nanette K. Wenger, MD, MACC. A large number of male colleagues from various areas of cardiology also attended, including John D. Cantwell, MD, FACC, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award and demonstrated that men support our efforts in advancing the roles of women in cardiology.

The event was moderated by Rachel Harris, MD, and the lead speaker was Sandra J. Lewis, MD, FACC. The focus of this meeting was to identify existing gender disparities and highlight the mission of the ACC WIC Section, as well as discuss its accomplishments and goals in the horizon. Lewis emphasized that diversity and inclusion is key to the success of any organization. She powerfully quoted the words of a Nigerian entrepreneur, “Do not call us underrepresented, but as untapped because of the mighty potential that we possess. Ignorance to our resourcefulness, our resilience and the wealth of innovation does not mean absence of talent.” Lewis also acknowledged the phenomenal role of Gina P. Lundberg, MD, FACC, a member of the ACC WIC Section Leadership Council, and someone who strives for women empowerment and advocates for diversity and inclusion.

Furthermore, Lewis provided valuable insight into the challenges of cardiology, starting from when she began fellowship with only three other females compared to now, when cardiology has become much more accessible for females due to the pioneering work done by some of these great women. She noted that mission and commitment of this group is to promote and foster successful clinical and research careers and encourage more participation of women in this field. Lewis also called for more women to participate in the cardiology community, as they are vital to shape experiences and opportunities across the field. It was encouraging to know that the ACC WIC Section has several future goals in the horizon advocating to include and empower women in our field.

Being a mother of a 6-year-old, I often find myself in the guilt of not being available enough for my son while also striving to be competitive as my male colleagues. I had an eye-opening moment when Lewis passionately shared her own experience in raising two successful daughters while maintaining a career. This communication is the best platform to bring female physicians together within the ACC – sharing our challenges and personal experiences, as well as advocating for our priorities of interest. Following Lewis’ speech, there were questions and discussions by many established women like Wenger, Lundberg and Pascha Schafer, MD. Everyone offered invaluable advice for FITs and early career cardiologists about challenges in the field, personal advocacy and managing work-life balance.

Despite of all the advances we have made in this field, we are still at a frontier in this male-dominated field. This event allowed us to strengthen our support system by networking with several other female cardiologists. It is crucial that more female cardiologists attend these events, as “we really are stronger together.”

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This article is authored by Kalaivani Sivakumar, MD, Fellow in Training (FIT) at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA.