The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) has inaugurated the Women in AMIA Leadership Program, kicking off the first face-to-face meeting in conjunction with this week’s 2019 AMIA Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C. 3M Health Information Systems (HIS) is proud to be a sponsor, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this training program with 22 other like-minded women, under the leadership of women pioneers in informatics who so generously contribute their time, expertise and experience as coaches and mentors *. To quote the program:
Women are extremely underrepresented in leadership roles in fields of health and IT. Leadership training gives women skills and confidence to apply for leadership positions. Moreover, leadership training is most successful in context of the participants’ careers.
There is no comprehensive leadership training for informatics, and we believe there is a dire need to increase the skills and confidence of women in informatics to increase representation in informatics leadership positions.
At 3M HIS, we’ve had and continue to have leadership opportunities in our daily work; so, why did we apply to this program?
Rachael: 3M is supportive of my efforts for leadership and growth, but I have faced some challenges within the informatics community, including some subtle remarks from a few individuals who may not even be aware of the impact. As with many male-dominated fields, women must counter negative assumptions and perceptions. For example, does having children influence perceptions about our ability to handle job requirements? Are we being “too vocal” or are we “not speaking up enough?” These are criticisms rarely made of our male colleagues in the informatics world. I want to learn how to navigate these challenges in a positive way so I can express confidence and advocate effectively for my team.
The Women in AMIA Leadership Program is exciting because it offers an opportunity to learn to become an effective leader in informatics and at 3M.
Tiffany: For the last decade, I have been immersed in helping our customers implement standard terminologies, often as the project manager for large and small, government and commercial, internal and external projects. Day-to-day pressures require a real commitment to finding time for self-development. Participating in this program is a gift to myself. I’m excited for the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors at 3M, from our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Hon Pak to colleagues I work with every day; people who believe in me and let me learn alongside them professionally. This has been critical to my career development and has helped me in all my leadership assignments at 3M. The Women in AMIA Leadership Program provides another avenue to develop professional connections. As a woman, it is vital to be part of a network of people fostering collaborative thinking, inspiring each other and benefiting all likeminded people on their professional journey.
The 2019 program started October 15 and will run to May 15, 2020. In addition to the three in-person, two-day meetings, there are webinars, assigned readings, monthly coaching, peer support network meetings, and lots of self-study and homework. It is intense – not a commitment to make lightly, but just three weeks in, we already feel we’ve learned so much and have noticed a difference in our thinking and self-awareness. We’d like to conclude by sharing our hopes in committing to the program:
Rachael: Since I would like to progress to a management position and lead an informatics team within 3M HIS, I want to learn more effective ways of communicating as a woman leader within the corporate culture. Also, more women are joining our team and I want to support their advancement. I would also like to participate more in the broader informatics community, expanding my involvement beyond nursing group activities. I am interested in learning if the challenges women face are widespread throughout the AMIA universe, and if the skills we learn in the program can be applied to overcome these challenges. In summary, I want to be comfortable in my own skin and would like to help other women be comfortable in theirs, and I think this program will be a key step in my learning process.
Tiffany: There are many different personalities and leadership styles within the workplace; I believe this program will help me understand my style and maximize my full potential. I want to increase my emotional intelligence and decision-making abilities, which will help me prepare to lead an entire team -- men and women -- toward efficiency and success. I would also like to learn how effective women leaders maintain work-life balance and combat stereotypes. How do successful women navigate perceptions that women lack mental toughness, or overreact? Finally, I want to help build a community of women leaders in health IT.
We’re very excited to team up for this program. It helps tremendously to have a friend and colleague to discuss ideas and share encouragement. Imagine multiplying this support by engaging the program’s cohort of fellow scholars, coaches and mentors! Stay tuned for additional reports from us as we progress on this wonderful journey.
* A big thank you to the leaders of this program (from the coaches and mentors pages of the program website, alphabetically by last name): Tiffani Bright, Wendy Chapman, Clare Coonan, Sabrina Hsueh, Rebecca Jacobson, Merida Johns, Kathryn Kuttler, Alexa McCray, Omolola Ogunyemi, Vimla Patel, Guergana Savova, Donghua Tao.