Highly Attended ACC Iowa WIC Chapter Event Piques High School Student Curiosity in Cardiology Careers

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CHAPTER ENGAGEMENT | On Dec. 4, the ACC Iowa Women in Cardiology (WIC) Chapter held an event, Introduction to Women in Cardiology, for Quad-City area female high school students with interests in science and medicine.

Reception of the event was fantastic, with almost triple the anticipated attendance.

Beginning when I was a cardiology fellow in the 1990s, I have noticed the unfortunate rarity of female cardiologists (in those days, even rarer than today). Since that time, I have always held onto the dream of someday being able to introduce more women to the field.

This summer, I came up with a plan to enact that dream by introducing cardiology to high school students. Initially, my idea was simply to introduce them to female cardiologists.

Then I looked around me, and realized that each day I work with an entire cardiac team of nurses, nurse practitioners, cath lab staff (including radiation techs) and diagnostic staff (including Echo, Vascular, Nuclear and CT techs).

Together with these intelligent young ladies who have chosen various fields in cardiology, we form a team to provide the best care for our cardiac patients.

Just like my work, I understood that this event was not something I could undertake alone. So, for the event, we introduced the group of high schoolers to not only the cardiologist profession but also to the various spectrum of opportunities available in cardiology.

After the date was set, I began advertising by emailing the area's school principals with an open invitation to high school girls for the event, hosted by myself and the ACC Iowa Chapter.

I personally spread the word relentlessly through interviews with local newspapers and TV, alongside social media advertisement through Facebook and Twitter.

The event itself was held at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. The food was generously sponsored by Medtronic, the medical device company.

Aside from my introductory lecture to kick everything off, we avoided the typical lecture format in favor of informal round-table type discussions, in which girls could ask whatever questions they had and speak directly with women in many different cardiac professions.

Cardiac Cath Lab teams from the two hospital systems in the Quad Cities were invited to showcase their displays. The Diagnostics team from my private practice group, Cardiovascular Medicine PC, came in full force and introduced the young ladies to echo, vascular, nuclear, and CT technology and methods.

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I requested colorful displays, catheters, wires, devices and much more to make it hands-on and interactive for the young ladies. We also brought our portable echo machine, which many of the girls found captivating. Cardiologists, electrophysiologists, nurses, and nurse practitioners mingled with students and had casual discussions with them.

In addition, we set up sheets for the young ladies to sign up for shadowing opportunities in areas of interest.

It turned out to be an extremely interactive and unique opportunity for the students. Based on reactions and feedback, the team and I believe that we successfully opened up a field in which students may have had little to no background knowledge, piquing student curiosity into cardiology.

I have little doubt we planted seeds of interest of careers in the field in at least a few, if not many of these young ladies. This will certainly bear fruit someday in the future!

Overall, the event was very well received in our community, and we have had an overwhelmingly positive response from parents and teachers.

As such, we hope to be able to repeat this every couple of years to help open opportunities and foster knowledge of cardiology in the upcoming generation of girls in the Quad Cities!

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This article was authored by Rafat Padaria, MD, FACC, ACC Iowa Chapter WIC Representative.