Celebrating 10 Years of Member Sections

ACC’s Member Sections were born from a need for more specialized, topic-focused communities. Members wanted an opportunity to identify and develop initiatives to facilitate their career advancement and professional development with other like-minded professionals. Ten years ago, the pioneers of the Women in Cardiology (WIC) and Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology (ACPC) sections never imagined that their contributions to the member sections would transform the ACC. Now, with 16 member sections and over 22,000 active members in those sections, the voices of the entire cardiovascular care team are being heard even louder than before. Member sections not only provide a space for collaboration and development within a specialization or sub-section of cardiology, they also ensure that each of these specializations or sub-sections assist in improving the ACC. With the help of sections and working groups, the ACC has been able to grow into an association of nearly 50,000 members – domestic and international – who contribute to life-changing guidelines, innovative studies and clinical trials, advocacy changes and medical conferences around the world.

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the member sections, the ACC looks back at the two groups that laid the groundwork for future member sections: WIC and ACPC.

Women in Cardiology

Mary Norine Walsh, MD, FACC, the first chair of the WIC Member Section in 2005, defines the first members as pioneers, converting the standing committee into a member section. These pioneers envisioned that a member section would generate more participation in WIC activities. After a hugely successful two year pilot phase, the section was granted permanent status, along with ACPC. “Our pioneering idea led to the current structure of many member councils and sections, and has positively changed the interaction of all members with the College,” explains Walsh. Soon after the WIC and ACPC Member sections became permanent fixtures of the ACC, the rest followed.

Over the past 10 years as a member section, WIC has been able to positively impact the work environment for women through their member activities and initiatives. WIC member and former ACC President Pamela Douglas, MD, MACC, remarks that “although WIC was intended to provide a richer and more personal experience for a small group of underrepresented members – just 9 percent of FACCs are female – these founders’ example has changed the way many members relate.” Topics of discussion and interest have been job negotiations, pregnancy timing and leave, and workplace mentoring to encourage more women toward leadership positions. Walsh notes that many members express the feeling that the section truly supports their interests and ambitions.

In keeping with the continued support, Walsh encourages other women in the cardiology field to mentor the women around them. Whether they are nurses, administrators, medical students or residents, mentoring helps the entire cardiovascular team achieve success. As for fellows in training and early career professionals at the start of their cardiology career, Walsh has a simple message: “Do what you love and what you are good at. Figure out what fulfills you professionally and pursue it.”

As the WIC Member Section looks ahead to the next 10 years, members can expect to see more professional development on the horizon, as well as more emphasis on encouraging women to consider careers in cardiovascular medicine and pursue higher positions. “Going forward, I envision a more finely honed focus on encouraging women to move forward into leadership positions, both at their home institutions and within the ACC,” Walsh says. “As the membership demographics of the ACC change, the leadership should reflect that.”


The WIC Section holds its first section meeting on Nov. 8 in New Orleans

The ACC officially launches the WIC Section and launches the WIC virtual mentorship program on the ACC’s website

The WIC Section creates and meets the following goals:

  • Identify and develop initiatives to promote the career development of women cardiologists and to address workforce issues so that more women choose careers in cardiology
  • Increase the involvement of women cardiologists in ACC activities and leadership
  • Increase and improve networking and mentoring opportunities

The WIC visiting professor program launches with visits at six internal medicine programs in its first year; the first WIC global women’s breakfast is held at ACC.06; the WIC Section’s first working groups launch: professional life survey, visiting professor and professional development seminar

The WIC Professional Life Survey is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology; the WIC Chapter Networking Grant Program launches; The Bright Futures Program and mentorship program for fellows in training and medical residents is a great success at ACC.08

The WIC Section Quarterly eNewsletter starts in January 2009

The WIC Chapter Network working group is created

First WIC Section Advocacy workshop at the 2013 Legislative Conference

First WIC Section Community Lounge at ACC.14

First WIC Section Leadership Workshop during the 2015 Leadership Forum

Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology

From the start, the ACPC Member Section has been a grassroots effort, maximizing on the engagement and support of its members. Gerard R. Martin, MD, FACC, the first chair of the section, explains that the ACPC Section has provided “a single group in which the whole community of congenital heart disease (CHD) experts [can] come together to work on improving the care of patients.” Pulling from professionals in different cardiology backgrounds – including chiefs of pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery, as well as administrators to both – ACC members created the ACPC Member Section with a strategic direction that focused on activities and initiatives that mattered to leadership and members.

In the first ACPC Member Section meeting, it became clear that quality was a top priority among members. By engaging in dialogues with members across different cardiology functions, the Section has been able to imagine and create programs like the IMPACT Registry and the ACPC Quality Network. As Martin says, “this forum has allowed [the Section and] the College to address CHD as the lifetime issue that it is, and ensure all relevant participants are contributing to the discussion.” Since the start of the ACPC Member Section, lifelong specialty care has become more prominent and members continue to work together to address these critical issues in the ACPC work environment.

Looking forward, Martin sees the ACC becoming the “central depository of CHD data for quality improvements efforts,” originating from the ACPC Member Section’s initiatives, like the ACPC Quality Network. Further coordination between the network and the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) will make “the ACC the home of MOC for CHD professionals, and facilitate collaborative quality improvement across the [entire] CHD care team.”

Looking forward, Martin also encourages fellows in training and early career members to get involved early in the Section. “The insights that younger members can provide offer valuable information to innovative sections like ACPC. Continuing to collaborate across different levels of experience, as well as incorporating voices from the whole cardiovascular care team, will allow the ACPC Member Section to continue their advanced, life-changing developments in CHD and pediatric cardiology for years to come,” notes Martin.


The ACC launches the ACPC Member Section

The first National Congenital Heart Lobby Day is held

The ACPC Section’s Work Groups are established, and the ACC/American Heart Association Management of the Adult with Congenital Heart Disease Guidelines are published

The inaugural McNamara lecture by Charles Mullins, MD, FACC, takes place; The ACC’s IMPACT Registry launches

The first ACPC quality metrics are approved

PATCH, the joint initiative between the ACPC Section, ACC Chapters and the Adult Congenital Heart Association, launches to educate general cardiologists about care of adults with congenital heart disease; the American Board of Medical Specialties approves the adult CHD exam

First American Board of Pediatrics MOC Part IV initiative launches – Reducing Radiation Risk

First pediatric appropriate use criteria document is published on echocardiography

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, ACC Annual Scientific Session

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