ACC WIC New England Chapter: A Successful Pivot From Inaugural Conference to Virtual Summer Series

Over this past winter, the ACC New England Chapter eagerly planned the inaugural ACC Women in Cardiology (WIC) conference in Boston for early April. Unfortunately, as the pandemic turned our world upside down, meeting in person was no longer an option, and our team quickly pivoted to come together through a Virtual Summer Series. Our priority was to maintain a sense of community and encourage one another during these challenging times.

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Our first meeting in June featured a round table discussion with the Chapter Leadership team – including the female Governors of Massachusetts and Northern New England ACC Chapters, Chapter WIC Champions, and Fellows in Training – that focused on both the professional and personal effects of the pandemic. After surviving the first wave in the Northeast, we discussed professional challenges, from volunteering for deployment to COVID-19 units and taking on additional shifts to pauses in clinical trials. Faculty noted significant impacts on promotion. Despite the obvious benefits of telehealth, it was feared that reimbursement would lead to further gender disparities. In addition, the glaring gender disparity in research productivity was highlighted. On a personal level, many highlighted new challenges of juggling aspects of personal life with partners and children, noting that the silver lining was being able to have additional family time.

July's meeting featured Sara Laschever, a renowned authority on the challenges that shape women's professional lives, and co-author of the books, Women Don't Ask and Ask for It. Her books highlight her ground-breaking study that first focused public attention on the forces preventing women from negotiating for themselves. She led an interactive session, challenging the participants to define their value propositions as well as their short and long terms goals. She described the common pitfall's women face professionally in negotiations and then presented concrete actionable strategies to effectively do so.

In August, we invited Christine Marsh, senior vice president of market access at Boehringer Ingelheim. She discussed her pivot from the finance industry to pharmaceutical industry, as well as her journey and development as a leader, while highlighting several key lessons. First, she advocated to challenge yourself by going outside your comfort zone, as it creates situations in which you grow the most. She stressed the importance of learning and adaptation in leadership abilities and style while promoting the development of your team simultaneously. Lastly, she advised us to think untraditionally when choosing mentors, finding those who encourage and promote you but are not afraid to be truthful.

To conclude our series, ACC's own Leadership Development Strategist, Kat Niewiadomska, PhD, discussed the ever-pervasive topic of Imposter Syndrome. It was a truly fascinating talk, as she described why women are particularly at risk, stemming from biologic drivers to how women are praised differently from a young age, setting up different gender performance expectations. She then described pragmatic strategies regarding emotional intelligence, failure response and self-concept to overcome the profound effects on one's mindset, self-image and performance.

In a time when we all are adapting in several spheres of our lives, we learned strategies to continue to strengthen our professional development, all while remembering to advocate and support one another and not allowing challenges to stand in our way.

Katherine Clark, MD

This article was authored by Katherine Clark, MD, Fellow in Training (FIT) at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.