ACC meeting offers female cardiologists chance to connect with their ‘community’
The American College of Cardiology Scientific Session, held in March in New Orleans, brought together thousands of CV providers from around the country and the world. Having attended the ACC Scientific Session many times throughout my fellowship, I was excited to return. As each ACC Scientific Session has evolved, I have found my experience to be more and more engaging as I have progressed through each step of my training and beyond. That is the beauty of medical meetings: the breadth of knowledge available to many different levels, from trainee to experienced provider.
ACC has greatly expanded the last few years in offering not only the latest cutting-edge knowledge and clinical trial updates, but also serving as a backdrop for tremendous networking opportunities and support for building communities within the larger world of cardiology.
Interacting with the “community” of women in cardiology is what I look forward to the most.
Cardiology remains particularly male-dominated, and this is especially true in the electrophysiology and interventional subspecialties. In a recent study published in JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, researchers noted that the number of female trainees has more than doubled in traditionally male-dominated fields like cardiothoracic surgery, urology and neurosurgery in the last decade; however, the same rise has not been observed in interventional cardiology. Estimates from 2017 show that only 9% of U.S. interventional cardiology fellows were women.
As a female interventional cardiologist, medical meetings like the ACC Scientific Session offer a rare opportunity not to feel “rare” — a place where one can connect with others in the field who share common issues including work-life balance and shared career and procedural interests.
Female-oriented sessions at ACC
Such open environments were supported by several excellent sessions at the ACC Scientific Session, including talks addressing diversity in cardiology and specific details of how to recruit more women into the field. It is important to note that these efforts must start early — at the high school level — and that role models are key in showing young women that cardiology can be a real career option for them. The mentor element is crucial. I was lucky to have two female interventional cardiology attendings when I was in training. They were not in the same stage of life I was in at that time, but having a strong influence from women in different stages of life was helpful. Awareness of mentorship and women in cardiology — and interventional cardiology — is increasing, thanks in part to female-oriented forums like the ACC’s Women in Cardiology Member Section and Leadership Council and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions’ Women in Innovation.
Other issues addressed at this year’s meeting included how to approach gender-based pay gaps and recruiting more women into leadership positions within cardiology. Of note, several male cardiologists who have been outspoken in their support for women in cardiology, including Quinn Capers IV, MD, director of interventional cardiology and associate dean of admissions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Robert Harrington, MD, Arthur L. Bloomfield Professor of Medicine and chairman of the department of medicine at Stanford University, participated in diversity panels.
The Women in Cardiology — also known as WIC — lounge served as a central hub at the ACC Scientific Session and a central place for female cardiologists to congregate and network. Also, as an active Twitter user, it demonstrated the power of social media, as the strong community of women in cardiology on social media were able to connect in person, often spontaneously.
An additional impressive element at ACC WIC events was the presence of many female residents and fellows at the WIC-sponsored programs. Many of these women spoke up about the challenges they have faced in voicing their desire to enter into cardiology or associated subspecialties.
Seeing these trainees at these sessions showed that although there are challenges in our field, the future is promising and we have even more to look forward to for women in cardiology at the ACC Scientific Session in Chicago in March 2020.
- American Board of Internal Medicine Resident and Fellow Workforce Data. www.abim.org/about/statistics-data/resident-fellow-workforce-data. Accessed May 1, 2019.
- Yong CM, et al. JACC Cardiovasc Interv. 2019;doi:10.1016/j.jcin.2018.09.036.
- For more information:
- Ki Park, MD, MS, FSCAI, is an assistant professor in interventional cardiology at University of Florida and Malcom Randall VA Medical Center, Gainesville, Florida. Park is also a Cardiology Today Next Gen Innovator. She can be reached at email@example.com; Twitter: @cardioPCImom.
Disclosure: Park reports no relevant financial disclosures.