WIC International Perspective: A Canadian Cardiologist Who Has Stuck to Her Roots
I am a Canadian cardiologist who has stuck to her roots. I was born and raised in Toronto, did most of my medical training at the University of Toronto, completed cardiology training in Ottawa, and returned to Toronto for fellowship training in Women's Heart Health. For the last 20 years I have practiced as an academic cardiologist with an interest in cardiovascular prevention and women's health. I am in a group of 28 cardiologists (large for Canadian standards), and until recently I was one of only two women.
Female cardiologists face the same challenges and obstacles internationally. We juggle personal and professional needs, and do not want to be "dismissed" for having roles outside of our professional careers. "Fitting in" with the group can be difficult. My non-academic interests are different than my male colleagues. I never was part of the hockey team (a Canadian reference, but true), nor do I share tickets to the local sports games with my male colleagues. Despite this lack of networking out of work, we are collegial. However, it does create unseen boundaries. Not being seen as "similar" to male colleagues can make a difference in opportunities afforded women, academically and otherwise.
These hidden boundaries can be overcome. Being a part of a subspeciality group tends to help. However, for many who are generalists, there are challenges in finding that "connection." I am in an academic institution and enjoy working with trainees, but I think it can be even more isolating out in community practice. Over my career, I have reached out to colleagues beyond my own institution. I became involved in the Canadian Cardiovascular Society early on. However, in my era, I was one of only a few women on any committee. This has changed to some degree.
The Canadian Cardiovascular Society is a great opportunity for networking regardless of the type of cardiac practice one is in. Recently formed, the Canadian Women's Heart Health Alliance also provides a good opportunity for networking and becoming engaged with colleagues.
WIC is a great way to connect with, support and promote other women in cardiology. We need to create something similar in Canada. I have organized networking sessions for women in cardiology at our Canadian heart meetings, as well as journal clubs over the years to connect female cardiologists.
Understanding that you are not alone as a woman in cardiology and reaching out to colleagues is a good first step in overcoming the obstacles that many of us face!
This article was authored by Beth Abramson, MD, FACC.
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