Improving the diversity of the medical work force. Why is it So important?

Diversity & Inclusion in Cardiovascular Medicine

According to current estimates, diversity in the workforce in cardiovascular medicine is severely lacking with 3.6% of academic cardiologists identifying from the African American community, 3.2% from Hispanic/Latinx community and other traditionally underrepresented groups (Native Americans, Alaskan and native Hawaiian ancestry, URM) consisting of approximately less than 1%. The case is equally problematic when we look at the diversity among the private practice physicians in cardiovascular medicine. Although current estimates have women making up 51% of the US medical school graduates, they are less likely to achieve academic achievement as faculty, with women being less likely to achieve the rank of full Professor in the US medical schools. The loss to society is significant with several studies showing that diversity in medicine in fact matters. The impact of diversity has been felt in the quality of care delivered to patients. It has also been seen in the breath of clinical investigations undertaken to solve problems for a greater proportion of the population. Efforts are needed to diversify the pipeline of future physicians, especially in the specialty of cardiovascular medicine.

Success Stories

Nanette Wenger, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Emory University

The field of medicine owes a great debt to Dr. Wenger. She is one of the pioneers who drew attention to the sex-specific differences in coronary disease outcomes in women and has been the catalyst for change and promoting greater attention to heart disease in women as a clinical issue, public health problem and area of much needed research. She has served as a role model for countless women who choose to pursue a career in cardiovascular medicine. She has received countless accolades and awards, such as the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Scientific Councils and Physician of the Year award from the American Heart Association. In 2015, she was awarded the Bernadine Healy Leadership in Women’s Cardiovascular Disease Distinguished Awards from the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Wenger is a national treasure. Click to read the full bio.

Ann Taylor, MD, Professor of Medicine,
Senior Vice-President for Faculty Affairs and Career Development for Columbia University Medical Center, NY

Her achievement in medicine includes being the lead author and chair for the first ever major clinical trial, the African Heart Failure Trial (AHEFT) to test the effectiveness of a heart failure medication, BIDIL, in African Americans. This study was a landmark study and led to the discovery that this medication decreased the death rates by 43% in African Americans with advanced heart failure when used in combination with background heart failure therapy at the time. The findings of this study led to the inclusion of fixed dose BIDIL to the national guideline recommendations for heart failure treatment. Click to read the full bio.

Edward S. Cooper, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine,
Past President of the American Heart Association

Dr. Cooper achieved many firsts in his long career. He was the first tenured academic African American physician at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the first African American physician to become the President of the American Heart Association. His work focused on stroke and cardiovascular disease prevention and he chaired several committees within the American Heart Association, including the Stroke council. He has paved the way for many under-represented students to pursue a career in medicine. Click to read the full bio.

How can we support the goal of increasing diversity in Cardiovascular Medicine?

The road to becoming a cardiologist is a long one and requires support and help along the way. Often candidates from under-represented groups do not have any mentors who have taken the journey themselves to speak with or to get career development advice or guidance.  Thanks to a generous award from the Edna Kynett Foundation, our Collaborative for Cardiovascular Equity in North Philadelphia will sponsor a pilot program FOR TRAINEES FROM UNDER-REPRESENTED MINORITY GROUPS to bridge some of the gap, by sponsoring 4th year medical students and 2nd or 3rd year medical residents interested in pursuing a career in cardiovascular medicine in our Collaboration for Cardiovascular Equity in Research Award.

Women in Cardiology

Overall, the representation of Women in Cardiology according to the Association of American Medical Colleges is 12.6%

Despite a high percentage of female internal medicine residents (42.6%), female physicians are under-represented in Cardiology Fellowships:

  • 21% in General Cardiology Fellowships
  • 9.8% in Procedural Fellowships
  • 13.7% in Electrophysiology Fellowships

Special efforts are needed to increase the representation of women in cardiovascular medicine. In addition, female cardiology fellows are in need of mentorship and guidance in the development of their individual careers. Our Women in Cardiology group supports these efforts by connecting our female cardiology fellows and interested medical residents with women faculty in cardiovascular medicine. The group meets quarterly to discuss topics of interest related to career development and special problems experienced by female cardiologists.

Temple Women in Cardiology Group

The Temple Heart and Vascular Institute Women in Cardiology group focuses on supporting the career development needs of female trainees who are pursuing a career in cardiovascular medicine. The goals of the group include:

  1. Providing education and advice regarding various aspects of career development to female fellows and medicine trainees interested in pursuing a career in cardiovascular medicine.
  2. Provide opportunities for leadership for female fellows pursuing a career in cardiovascular medicine.

Our activities include:

  • Networking opportunities and mentorship for female fellows and medicine trainees interested in pursuing a career in cardiovascular medicine.
  • Educational programs focused on various topics of interest which support the career development of female fellows and medical trainees interested in pursuing a career in cardiovascular medicine.