April 14, 2024

LAC Kicks Off with Personalized Leadership Training for Women, Young Physicians

Today’s post covers some of the highlights from Day One of the 2024 ACEP Leadership & Advocacy Conference. Check back each day of the conference in real time for more updates.

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Many emergency physicians want to be an advocate for emergency medicine, but it is not always clear where to begin.

Sophia Spadafore, MD, health policy fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, spoke Sunday at the EMRA/Young Physician Section Health Policy Primer. She suggested residents start broad then find a niche.

The process can start with a question: What problem do you want to solve?

Then ask, How will you change the world?

“And, Who do you want to do it with?”   

Dr. Spadafore points out that mentorship is invaluable.

“One of the best things you can do is find a mentor,” she said. “But it goes two ways - find a mentor, be a mentor.”

“Look around, everyone in this room wants to make emergency medicine better,” Dr. Spadafore said to the full room of attendees.  

“Once you find a niche, there’s a group like EMRA or ACEP to help you find a pathway and move forward.”

The annual EMRA/Young Physician Section Health Policy Primer is a fantastic way for residents, young physicians, and first-time attendees to start their advocacy journey.

Part of the afternoon’s program this year was dedicated to a Drop the Mic, a competition where the speaker has 10 minutes to teach any emergency medicine-related topic to a national audience of peers and an expert panel of ACEP Education Committee members.

Attendees also heard from elected officials, Rep. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA-06), Internist, and State Rep. Timothy Reeder, MD, FACEP, Incumbent, an ACEP member and member of the North Carolina General Assembly.

Ashley Tarchione, MD, ACEP member and former EMRA leader, led a discussion about how to write resolutions and succinctly captured the reason why attending LAC is so important. "We all have a chance to change the world and it starts at a conference like this,” she said.

Women Leaders Give Advice to the Next Generation of Leaders

Sometimes leadership finds you.

ACEP Board Member Heidi C. Knowles, MD, FACEP, said she was goal directed through medical school and into her first attending position. But once she found she had met all her pre-determined goals, she needed a new challenge to keep her motivated.

“I didn’t even know what Council was. But once I started going, I was hooked,” Dr. Knowles said. “I knew this was really something I wanted to be part of.”

Dr. Knowles joined ACEP President Aisha T. Terry, MD, MPH, FACEP and ACEP President-Elect Alison J. Haddock, MD, FACEP on a panel discussion Sunday during the AAWEP Section’s Women in Emergency Medicine Leadership Workshop.

The second annual event was part of the ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference in DC, which kicked off Sunday. During the panel discussion, the leaders were asked about they have learned as a leader, how they are able to juggle their time management, and what advantages they have as women leaders.

With the conditions of scarcity that emergency physicians are currently facing, Dr. Haddock said she thought it might be a time for women leaders to turn it into an improvement opportunity.

“We can’t work under these conditions, and so the question of ‘how can we use this to get physician autonomy back to the forefront?’ is coming into play,” she said. “This might be a way to make the practice more pleasant for ourselves.” 

Dr. Terry said for many in leadership – and especially for women in leadership who tend to do more with less and “just make it work” – it is important to discover what truly brings you joy and then decide what you can give up to make space for that joy.

She also said that it is easy to see the many challenges facing emergency medicine, and health care in general, and get discouraged, but that events like ACEP’s LAC and the AAWEP workshop can be reinvigorating. 

“It can feel very challenging. It may seem slow, but there is progress being made,” Dr. Terry said. “Our voices do matter. ACEP does a tremendous amount of work … (successful advocacy) does not just happen. We are moving the needle together.”

AAWEP Keynote Addresses Getting Started in Advocacy

In her keynote address, “Making the Shoe Fit,” Jordan M. Warchol, MD, MPH, FACEP, explained that emergency physicians can feel a lot like the Cinderella of medicine, taking on the “dirty work” that often goes unseen. But “advocacy gives us the opportunity to be the belle of the ball,” she explained, as she outlined tips for getting and staying engaged. 

“Slogans are for t-shirts.” Advocacy requires a plan and “changing hearts and minds requires persistence and patience,” she said.  

Listen to understand. Advocacy also requires listening to understand, not to argue. It’s important to be curious and assume positive intent. 

Find common ground. Keep advocacy wins in perspective. “Moving toward compromise doesn’t mean losing your core values,” she said. “Play the long game.”

To help newer physicians channel their passions toward advocacy efforts, “it’s really important to understand what fuels them,” she said.

Today, Dr. Warchol focuses on using her platform with ACEP to be a changemaker and educate policymakers. She emphasizes that there is space in advocacy work for everyone, regardless of experience level.

Her best suggestion for newer advocates is to start with the community where you live and work.

“Look locally,” she said. “And get involved with groups like ACEP.” 

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