Meetings and Events | Highlights From the ACC WIC Section Leadership Workshop

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Last year, the ACC Women in Cardiology (WIC) Leadership Workshop took place preceding ACC’s Legislative Conference. The ACC WIC Section is an exceptional forum that brings female cardiologists together and advocates for their career advancement and professional growth. An astounding number of female cardiologists and Fellows in Training from across the country attended the workshop, making it a huge success!

The workshop began with a warm welcome note from ACC WIC Leadership Council Chair Claire S. Duvernoy, MD, FACC, and ACC President C. Michael Valentine, MD, FACC. This introduction was followed by an exceptional talk on radiation safety by Melissa R. Robinson, MD, FACC, cardiac electrophysiologist in Seattle, WA, and Sheila Sahni, MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist in Clark, NJ. Both women cardiologists specialize in cardiac procedures requiring radiation exposure. They explained that radiation safety is an important concern and is often times a reason for women to not pursue these specialties. While there have been significant advancements in the equipment used in these fields, there remains risk for the proceduralists. Robinson and Sahni highlighted important preventive strategies and specific approaches for operators to minimize radiation risk.

Following the talk on radiation safety, Kathryn L. Berlacher, MD, FACC, from the University of Pittsburgh, and Melanie S. Sulistio, MD, FACC, from the University of Texas at Southwestern, discussed microaggressions. They explained what microaggressions are, how they cause harm and difficulties in our work environment, and ways to identify and resolve them. Berlacher and Sulistio also emphasized strategies that women, in particular, could use. One pearl of this discussion was how the use of the word “but” in conversation can be perceived as dismissal of everything said before, leading to microaggressions. They emphasized a simple strategy of replacing “but” with “and” to make conversations smoother and avoid conflict.

Rachel Levine, MD, MPH, from the Johns Hopkins University, spoke next about sponsorship. She explained the similarities and differences between sponsorship and mentorship in academic medicine. Additionally, Levine highlighted how a mentor helps with career development while a sponsor helps with career advancement, and how both are key professional relationships built on the foundations of trust, loyalty and respect. 

Sarah Gualano, MD, FACC, from the University of Texas at Southwestern; Laxmi S. Mehta, MD, FACC, from the Ohio State University; and Poonam Velagapudi, MD, MS, FACC, from the University of Nebraska, discussed a key topic of physician burnout. They explained how to recognize burnout and discussed ways to beat it. Furthermore, they described a “3R approach” to dealing with burnout. This approach includes: recognize – watch for the signs of burnout; reverse – undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support; and resilience – build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health. Mehta further emphasized the need for shifting to a “Quadruple Aim,” with adding clinical wellness to our “Triple Aim” of improving patient care, lowering costs and better outcomes.

The ACC WIC Section leadership workshop was a wonderful opportunity for all female cardiologists to network, collaborate and foster mentoring relationships. The passion these women have for the field of cardiology is beyond words. A big thank you to Olivia Kranz who was instrumental in organizing this event and making sure that the day goes smoothly. The workshop concluded with a group photograph of all the participating members and our wonderful female leaders. A memory to treasure forever!

The enthusiasm of all participants and organizers was awe-inspiring. After such a motivational day, everyone was eagerly anticipating more similar events in the future. We hope that those who were able to join us learned something that they can put to use at their career stage. We encourage more women to attend future workshops and events, keeping up with the ACC WIC Section’s mission to continue strengthening the next generations of female cardiologists to lead effectively.

This article was authored by Nidhi Madan, MD, MPH, Fellow in Training (FIT) at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.