This past December, I had the opportunity to attend the 18th Annual International PCICS meeting and immediately noticed two things. Similar to most of my fellow attendees, my first impression was how refreshing it was to see everyone in person and (re)connect with colleagues from around the world. It was nice, after the last few years of virtual meetings, to remember and see that people were not just floating heads in front of a beach background broken up by buffering and spotty internet connections.
However, what struck me the most was how different this conference felt compared to those from the pre-pandemic era. As always, the sessions were intellectually stimulating and the conference was well organized, but what was remarkable to see were the speakers and some of the topics discussed. Our meeting reflected the changes that were already occurring in our hospital: there was a great representation of speakers who are women, there was greater representation of non-cardiologist/non-intensivists, and there was greater representation of groups underrepresented in medicine. It was refreshing and exciting to see the steps that PCICS has taken to improve diversity in their programming.
Of the many insights I gathered over the few days, I would like to share one that was profoundly impactful: Dr. Keila Lopez, from Texas Children’s Hospital, gave an amazing talk about “DEI Through the Patient Lens versus Through the Staff Lens”. In her talk she talked about the importance of representation in medicine as well as moving from a place of cultural competence to cultural humility. What struck me the most about her talk was her comment that we all know the data and that disparities in healthcare exist, what we need to do is stop talking about that and start talking about what we are going to do to fix it. This is the mandate now facing all of us: We all know the data – how are we going to fix it?
The changes seen at the PCICS Annual International Meeting reflect the small steps that the society has taken toward improvement but we, as an organization, still have a long and challenging road ahead. Just seeing the changes in representation at the meeting has motivated me, and hopefully others, to continue to push for change within the society but also at our individual institutions to break down barriers and address the health inequities of our patients. I look forward to seeing what the society will do next – and I do not expect to need to wait till our next conference in Miami to appreciate it.
Children’s Hospital of Atlanta