VIDEO: Women leaders key to evading crisis during pandemic
In this video exclusive, Sunanda V. Kane, MD and Uzma D. Siddiqui, MD, FASGE, highlighted their experiences as women in leadership roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Siddiqui, from the University of Chicago, won the Women of the Year award in 2019, one of several Disruptive Innovator awards given by Healio Gastroenterology to physicians pushing the status quo toward the betterment of gastroenterology and liver diseases. Kane, from Mayo Clinic, won the award in 2018.
“Ensuring that female physician leaders’ voices are heard, especially in times of crisis such as the covid-19 pandemic, is essential to providing a more diverse perspective when considering changes to normal workflows, addressing safety concerns and considering overall staff wellbeing,” Siddiqui told Healio Gastroenterology. “Hopefully, the contributions from female leaders during the pandemic will be acknowledged as we start to emerge from it and the lessons learned can help all of us better prepare for any future crises.”
Siddiqui said when the pandemic first hit, many physicians whether — male or female — asked themselves how they would care for their patients, families, and themselves. She noted some female physicians felt anonymous before the pandemic and even more so during the pandemic.
“There’s more chance they are not able to lead the way that they want, especially if you are not seeing people in person, you’re covered up so people may not know who you are — you are kind of deidentified,” she said. “This anonymity definitely plays a role.”
To fix that, many female physicians wore different masks, made sure they were heard at meetings, put names on personal protective equipment gowns.
“Just try to keep your identity during the crisis so that people recognize you, people look to you for input and people can’t ignore you,” Siddiqui said.
Kane said she has the ability to speak her mind and helping others by being so open. When pandemic hit, Kane, the immediate past president of ACG, and the current president Mark B. Pochapin, MD, co-programmed webcasts and webinars to get the word out that they were thinking of other physicians.
“Sometimes that’s just enough, letting people know that we were going through what they were going through, that we were there for them and we knew new how they felt and open to hearing how they were doing,” Kane said. “Sometimes all you need is a shoulder or an ear and that’s really what leaders do — they lead by example but also lead by knowing what their constituents want and need.”