Get to Know Your Leaders | ACC’s 73rd President: Cathleen Biga, MSN, FACC

 Many of you may not know my story or my professional journey. Yet like each of you, my unwavering commitment to optimal care for our patients has propelled me along a diverse and rewarding professional path. 

Cathleen (Cathie) Biga, MSN, FACC

Get to Know Your Leaders: ACC's 73rd President Cathleen Biga, MSN, FACC

Cathleen (Cathie) Biga, MSN, FACC, is making history as ACC's first nonphysician president. Within her 40 years of experience in health care, she spent 15 years in the critical care unit as a nurse and is a former hospital president, CEO and cardiovascular service line leader. A long-time leader at the ACC, she been active in the College for more than 25 years, including serving for six years on the Board of Trustees.

Cardiology spoke with Biga about the unique perspectives she brings to her presidency, what she is most excited about and what advice she has for future ACC leaders.

You're making history as the ACC's first nonphysician president. What does this mean to you?

This historic event is not about me – rather it exemplifies the College's commitment to diversity and inclusion in all aspects – including leadership. The concept of "standing on the shoulders of giants" is often referenced when talking about leadership changes and transformation over time. This concept is certainly true for me. There have been incredible leaders throughout the College's 75-year history and it's a true privilege to follow in their footsteps.

What unique skills and perspectives do you bring to your role?

Over the next year, I'm excited to bring my own set of leadership skills and perspectives to the ACC as we kick off the first year of our new Strategic Plan and celebrate the College's 75th anniversary.

I have led throughout my career as a dyad and my year as president will be no different. I bring extensive experience in cardiovascular health care delivery, innovation, quality and economic sustainability that I believe offers fresh perspectives and complements the competencies of my physician colleagues on the Board of Trustees (BOT). As a team, the BOT is charged with strategically managing the College and I'm excited to collaborate with and lead this incredible group of people during this historic time in our journey of improving heart health for all.

While my leadership in cardiology is on the administrative side, the end goals of optimizing patient care and outcomes are the same. I love to encourage and engage – I want us all to push our individual limits and challenge each other to deliver the best care we can for our patients – I want to remove barriers (legal, regulatory and operational) to ensure our physicians and care team members can practice cardiovascular medicine and find the joy and the reason why they went into medicine in the first place. Putting the joy back in our daily lives is a critical goal for me as your ACC President.

Get to Know Your Leaders: ACC's 73rd President Cathleen Biga, MSN, FACC

What are some of your biggest professional accomplishments to date?

I am so fortunate to have had an amazing and incredibly varied career; however, I would say one of the biggest accomplishments is being able to support the ACC as it evolved and embraced the culture of team-based care. Changing culture doesn't happen overnight and it has truly been a privilege to learn from and work side-by-side with so many other talented individuals to overcome challenges, identify solutions and help create a College that is the professional home for all cardiovascular professionals. My journey to president has been humbling, invigorating and amazing, and is an accomplishment in and of itself.

I'm also proud of my work as a dyad partner to my cardiologists. Make no mistake, cardiovascular teams must be physician-led as we continue to fight heart disease as the #1 killer around the world. Cardiovascular care needs a team and I'm proud of the role I've played and continue to play in fostering collaboration and interdisciplinary cooperation with the shared goal of improving heart health for all.

What do you see are the College's greatest opportunities in the upcoming year?

We could write a book on this topic – but a few highlights include:

  • The launch of a new Strategic Plan is always invigorating, and we have an opportunity to deliver real improvements in the lives of clinicians and patients over the next five years and beyond.
  • The ability to engage our International Chapters, cardiovascular society partners and our members to develop on-the-ground solutions for addressing the global burden of cardiovascular disease is an incredible opportunity.
  • Getting our own Board of Cardiovascular Medicine approved is a real possibility and one of the biggest, most transformational things we can do for ACC members.
  • Continuing to move our digital transformation efforts forward and make it easier for members to engage and become involved with the College is Mission critical.
  • Inspiring a diverse and inclusive pipeline of new CV Team clinicians and leaders, as well as propelling our health equity strategy forward, will have profound impacts on ensuring all patients have access to cardiovascular care.
  • Watching MedAxiom continue to bring core competencies, leadership training and skills to our teams opens up new doors for everyone.

What advice do you have for ACC members, especially CV Team members, who want to become leaders?

Become involved – be engaged – find your local Chapter – offer to help – we need you!! Offer to mentor or sponsor some of our new team members. All cardiovascular care is local and we need you to meet with your lawmakers and educate them about what we do and the direct impacts of policies (or lack of them) on our ability to deliver optimal patient care. We need you to talk to high schoolers – and those in college – and encourage them to consider a career in cardiology. We need to make sure that the next generation of cardiologists and cardiovascular team members are representative of the very people and communities they serve. There are so many ways to get involved. If you get stuck, email me and I will help you get started!

Get to Know Your Leaders: ACC's 73rd President Cathleen Biga, MSN, FACC

Keywords: Cardiology Magazine, ACC Publications, Leadership, Patient Care Team, Goals, Patient Care, Health Equity, Mentors, ACC Annual Scientific Session, ACC24

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