May 1, 2023

Our Favorite Quotes from AAWEP’s “Why Lead Now?” Panel

The ACEP AAWEP Power Up Workshop featured an inspiring discussion about the opportunities to engage, retain and empower women physicians in emergency medicine.

The women of the ACEP Board of Directors and Council were on hand for a roundtable discussion following conversations that spanned tips to leverage professional networks, insight on establishing professional boundaries, strategies for self-promotion, and the importance of coaching.   

Dr. Alison Haddock explained the connection between her core values and leadership opportunities.

“I want to make things better for anyone following behind me so that they don’t encounter the challenges that I’ve had,” she said.

Dr. Gillian Schmitz commented on the importance of rising to meet challenges head-on. “Real leaders are born in challenging times,” she said.

Dr. Melissa Costello noted that for the first 15 years of her career, she was the only woman physician in her group. “We have to identify and develop leaders,” she said.

Dr. Aisha Terry, ACEP president-elect, pointed to numerous policies that ACEP supports in order to emphasize gender equity and remove barriers to advancement for women in emergency medicine.

 “Go to the ACEP website, see what the policies say, show them to your bosses,” she said.

Each woman on the ACEP Board offered advice informed by their experience. Dr. Terry is especially passionate about developing a pipeline of women emergency physician leaders. She advised the audience, “You’re ready, put yourself out there.”

Dr. Kristen McCabe-Kline said, “Challenge norms. Bring a different perspective and ask difficult questions.”

Each board member spoke about unique obstacles that they conquered while rising to ACEP leadership.

Addressing the prevalence of imposter syndrome, Dr. Heidi Knowles said, “I had to change my way of thinking. I had to give more weight to my accomplishments, and I don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” To the attendees she advised, “Be confident. Don’t wait until you check every box.”

Dr. Kelly Gray-Eurom spoke of the inevitability of failure on the path to achievement. “Realize you are going to fail at some point,” she said. “But don’t shoulder 100% responsibility for things that fail around you. Step back, assess, move forward.”   

Dr. Terry concluded the conversation with perspective on burnout and overcoming professional hurdles.

“If you need a break, take some time,” she said. “But whatever you do, come back. We need you. Your patients need you.”

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