ACC NY WIC Meeting Recap

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How do women in cardiology "meet and greet" during a pandemic? Virtually, of course.

On May 27, in the midst of the pandemic in New York City, we gathered to support each other and share our stories. Our stories were oddly similar: witnessing so many patients die, feeling helpless, powerless the loneliness faced to this disease. We all felt pretty isolated – with travel bans in place, no outings and no socializations. Just like our patients, we felt the same. It was a challenging time for clinicians and patients.

We also discussed our stressors, like worrying about childcare and infecting our loved ones. We discussed how exhausting it is "donning and doffing" the PPE, the new way of "seeing" patients, and the pros and cons telemedicine.

The COVID-19 pandemic had disrupted our routine, and its impact will be long lasting even after it is gone. Telemedicine had allowed doctors to talk to patients beyond the scope of just their physical symptoms; more often than not, we would have long conversations with them about their stressors and their fears. We stressed the importance of directing some of our patients to psychiatry.

One limitation with telemedicine that we discussed is patients' access to a computer and a good internet connection. Not all patients have the proper amenities to participate. On the bright side, we have seen different disciplines come together. It has been exhilarating to see all institutions share data and work together, as well.

We also discussed our slow transitioning from a "COVID-only" hospital to having other diseases, to treat and segregating our patients based on COVID-19 status to avoid cross contamination. We talked about how we progressively reopened our clinics and patients felt safer coming to clinic compared to hospitals. We talked about how being a woman in a male-dominated field had its own challenges, especially in the research and publications world, and how there is a big gender disparity in publications.

Overall, the positive energy in "the room" was palpable. Each of us wanting to help, sharing tips on how to succeed in medicine and in cardiology. One key point was to "ask people for help, to reach out." We are here to help and support each other.

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This article was authored by Sarah Rosanel, MD, Fellow in Training (FIT) at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.