Celebrating Women in Cardiology: A FIT Perspective on the ACC Midwest WIC Symposium

When I started my cardiology fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, I was lucky to connect with Mahi Lakshmi Ashwath, MBBS, FACC, president of ACC's Iowa Chapter and chair of the Iowa ACC Women in Cardiology (WIC) Council. Dr. Ashwath encouraged me to become involved with ACC's Iowa Chapter, which was a great way to learn from and connect with some very inspiring cardiologists. Little did I know that my involvement in the Iowa Chapter would culminate in my nomination as chair of the Chapter's Women in Cardiology Fellows in Training (FIT) Council.

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As chair, I was tasked with helping to organize the 4th Annual Midwest WIC Symposium. Iowa was taking the baton over from Nebraska as the host and we had big shoes to fill. We started planning for the Symposium with virtual planning committee meetings that included chapter representatives from the Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and Indiana Chapters.

We started off by brainstorming a skeleton structure for the meeting, with one of the biggest questions being whether we should host the meeting in-person or virtually given the COVID-19 pandemic. With cautious optimism, we started to plan for an in-person meeting. The next step was deciding on the topics for talks and an invited speaker. We opted to keep the talks short with more "soft," non-academic topics and agreed to allow more time for discussions. We received an overwhelmingly positive response on inviting speakers.

Next came the step of inviting participants. The chapter representatives from participating states were pivotal in spreading the word in their respective chapters. Email invitations were sent with the meeting brochure to fellows and faculty all over the U.S. in addition to reaching out via Twitter. Unfortunately, due to the evolving pandemic, we had to switch to a virtual format. Once the main meeting agenda was chalked out, we started working on the finer details like obtaining CME accreditation, creating specific Zoom links for speakers and moderators, brushing up the webpage, etc. Finally, after months of meticulous planning, the meeting day arrived.

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On the morning of the meeting, Toniya Singh, MBSS, FACC, chair of ACC's WIC Section asked me how I was doing. I told her I was very excited and also quite nervous. She responded by saying "You have no reason to be nervous. Everyone wants you to succeed. You may be inclined to think people are judging you but the truth is that all the women here today are rooting for you." Her words reflected the true essence of the Symposium that day. All the speakers, moderators and participants were celebrating each other's achievements and success.

The day kicked off with keynote addresses by Subha V. Raman, MD, FACC, and Vera H. Rigolin, MD, FACC, followed by enriching live talks on addressing barriers in the cardiology workplace, the business of medicine, Fellows in Training case presentations, book discussions, and advice about family and finances.

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It was very humbling to have been a part of this meeting with this group of wonderful women cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. I would like to thank Dr. Ashwath and all the WIC members for involving me in this very vibrant section. I am very excited for this tradition to be continued by ACC's Illinois Chapter next year. Until then, here is the link to the invigorating talks at the 4th Annual Midwest WIC Symposium: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTphR_F5BPo.



Arooj R. Khan, MD

This article was authored by Arooj R. Khan, MD, general cardiology FIT at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

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