ACC’s WIC Section Celebrates Women’s History Month

Lewis headshotThis post was authored by Sandra Lewis, MD, FACC, chair of ACC’s Women in Cardiology (WIC) Section.

This March, ACC’s WIC Section is celebrating the achievements and history of female cardiologists. In a field typically dominated by men, pioneering women have brought diversity and innovation to cardiovascular medicine, enriching heart health and patient care.

Female cardiologists were once a rarity, with the first women physicians training during the 19th century. These early women physicians were determined to serve and broke down traditions and barriers to enter medical schools, crossing such hurdles as having their medical school admissions contingent on approval of their classmates. Their work created a strong model for us to build upon, setting the stage for the next generations to grow and thrive within the field. We continue to grow their accomplishments, and honor their contributions.

Leading women made seminal contributions in pediatrics from Maude Abbott, MD’s development of an international classification system for congenital heart disease, to Helen Taussig, MD, FACC’s innovative work on the “blue baby” syndrome, which essentially founded the field of pediatric cardiology. Nanette Kass Wenger, MD, MACC, is a pioneer scholar, teacher and caregiver. Her scholarship, mentorship, and patient care is exemplified in her advocacy for and recognition of gender-based differences in heart health, and has become the voice for recognition of women’s heart health by the cardiovascular community. Bernadine Healy, MD, FACC’s trailblazing career led her to prominent positions beyond cardiology, as director of the National Institutes of Health, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Policy, president of the American Red Cross, and president of the American Heart Association. More recently, leaders such as Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, a past president of the ACC, and Mary Norine Walsh, MD, FACC, vice president of the ACC, are leading the professional community within their institutions and the ACC, contributing to education, quality, and advocacy for our patients and care teams.

Although the field is not without gender-disparities today, we have made great strides. This month we celebrate the numerous achievements and contributions by women in our field. I hope you will all join me in celebrating yourselves, your female colleagues and the trailblazers who continue to make cardiology what it is today.

This post is part of a series on the ACC in Touch Blog from members of ACC’s WIC Section for Women’s History Month. Join the conversations on Twitter with the hashtag #ACCWIC.

ACC’s WIC Section is working to provide resources for women to help them steer successful careers and enjoy work/life balance. Efforts have included the professional life survey conducted every 10 years, the annual WIC Leadership Workshop and a new pregnancy survey. Learn more about the Section at ACC.org/WIC.

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