Harold on History | A History Built on Diversity of Inclusion
This month, Cardiology celebrates the many voices and many faces of ACC’s membership and provides a glimpse at the challenges and opportunities associated with creating a profession that supports diversity and inclusion. Looking back, I’m reminded that ACC was founded in part to be the professional home for those not welcome elsewhere — recognizing that an inclusive cardiovascular workforce best guarantees achieving the mission of transforming cardiovascular care and improving heart health.
Nearly 70 years ago, the ACC first became the professional home of cardiologists who had emigrated to the U.S. from Nazi Germany. Franz M. Groedel, MD, MACC, a founding trustee, was not accepted by many of New York’s elite medical institutions and professional societies, despite his distinguished record. Many others shared similar stories and envisioned the creation of an organization dedicated to providing “professional men and women actively engaged in practice or research relating to diseases of the heart and circulation” with education and other services to improve the quality of cardiovascular care.
"ACC was founded in part to be the professional home for those not welcome elsewhere — recognizing that an inclusive cardiovascular workforce best guarantees achieving the mission of transforming cardiovascular care and improving heart health."
Since then, the ACC has embraced and welcomed the volunteer efforts of a broad and increasingly diverse group of people to meet this vision. Although not in any way a full list of individuals, a few examples of ACC “firsts” include:
- Olga M. Haring, MD, FACC: The first woman to be elected as a Fellow of the ACC in 1956.
- Jacqueline Noonan, MD, FACC: The first woman to be elected as an ACC Chapter governor (Kentucky) in 1977.
- Susan B. Knoebel, MD, MACC, served in 1982-1983 as the first woman to be president of ACC, and then in 1986 she was the first woman to receive the ACC Distinguished Fellow Award.
- Pamela Douglas, MD, MACC, and Mary Norine Walsh, MD, MACC have since followed in her presidential footsteps.
- John Beauregard Johnson, MD, FACC: The first African American physician to be elected a Fellow of the ACC. (For more on his contributions and those of other prominent African Americans to the field of cardiology, read my column from the February 2018 issue of Cardiology).
- Kim Allan Williams Sr., MD, MACC: The first African American to serve as president of ACC (2015–2016).
- Eileen M. Handberg, PhD, ARNP-BC, FACC: The first nurse to achieve the FACC designation (2009).
- Ruth Collins-Nakai, MD, MACC: The first woman chair of the ACC’s Board of Governors. Since then three women have served as BOG Chair.
Looking ahead, the ACC is redoubling its efforts to ensure a future with an inclusive and diverse cardiovascular workforce and College membership. The ACC’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion is leading this charge with the goal of harnessing the power of the diversity of ACC members to advance patient care, spur innovation, and improve health equity among individual patients and populations. In doing so, the College will ensure opportunity for all cardiovascular providers by working towards a fully inclusive organization and profession.
We have come a long way, but much still needs to be done. Together we can build on the actions and enthusiasm that began 69 years ago with Groedel and have since grown the College into a more than 52,000-member global professional cardiovascular society, serving the entire cardiovascular team, including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers.
The success of the ACC and the profession as a whole is dependent on our ability to evolve, grow and INVOLVE men and women — from all walks of life. There is no better organization to be THE professional home for all cardiovascular professionals.
Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Pharmacists, Trustees, National Socialism, Goals, Physician Assistants, Emigration and Immigration, Volunteers, Nurse Practitioners, Patient Care, Awards and Prizes
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