Inspiring women in the field of cardiothoracic surgery

8 March 2020

We’re delighted to announce that Dr Jolanda Kluin has been appointed Chair of the EACTS Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery Committee. In this blog, Dr Kluin outlines her plans for the Committee and how it will help inspire and encourage women to fulfil their surgical career ambitions.

Dr Jolanda Kluin, Chair, EACTS Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery Committee

I was very pleased last year when seven women students from Edinburgh Medical School in Scotland, UK, received awards on behalf of the Edinburgh Seven, a group of women who enrolled to study medicine in 1869150 years ago those women faced substantial resistance and were ultimately prevented from graduating and qualifying as doctors. 

Today things are of course very different. It’s great news that in some countries the proportion of women medical students is now over 50% and in the cardiothoracic surgery field the number of women surgeons is increasing. But, the numbers don’t lie: there remains a gender imbalance among cardiothoracic surgeons. 

A new women’s committee 

That’s why I am delighted to have been appointed as Chair of the newly formed Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery Committee at EACTS. EACTS promotes diversity and equality, and has recognised that our Association can play a leading role to inspire more women to fulfil their surgical ambitions. am approaching this role with sense of pride, purpose and, above all, optimism. Our committee will be focused on what we can do, rather than talk about what we can’t 

Like so many women, I’ve faced gender bias: suggestions that my pregnancy might hinder my ability to head up a department and negative attitudes towards my personal career ambitions. But I’ve also seized fantastic opportunities, for example participating in the Steyn Parvé programme, a renowned leadership course for women with potential. 

Today, I am equally proud to call myself a cardiothoracic surgeon, a wife, a professor, a mother, a mentor, a researcher, an author…and there are many other hats that I wear. I’m as passionate about finding the best new technology and treatments for patients, as I am about paving the way for future surgeons through training or mentoring. 

Visible women leaders in surgery 

I’m a firm believer that you cannot be what you cannot seeSo, as Chair of this important new committee, my plan is to be a positive role model and work alongside my esteemed colleagues to ensure that more women surgeons become leaders in the field of cardiothoracic surgery. Our committee will be a source of leadership, help create valuable connections and provide visibility for women surgeons. 

I’m under no illusions – this is no easy task and there are no quick fixes. It will take time. We will actively encourage women in cardiothoracic surgery by enhancing the educational development opportunities through the EACTS Annual Meeting, Academy, research opportunities and fellowships. We will also identify professional opportunities for women in both training and leadership roles. We are planning the first meeting of the new committee for March 2020. If you’d like to know more about the committee or are interested in joining us or sharing new ideasplease contact stephanie.halksworth@eacts.co.uk 

For me, awarding the Edinburgh Seven posthumous medical degrees served a dual purpose. It was certainly right to recognise those incredible women and their struggle 150 years ago, but it also serves as a reminder that we must inspire the brightest and the best women to choose a career in cardiothoracic surgery. Our new EACTS committee will help inspire and encourage women to fulfil their surgical career ambitions. By addressing the gender gap for female surgeons today, just imagine what the women surgeons of tomorrow can achieve. 

#ILookLikeASurgeon #WomeninSurgery 

Coronavirus | COVID-19: Health and Safety Advice

Updated: 20th March 2020

In light of the spread of the coronavirus, EACTS is taking the following action.

• All courses are cancelled until the end of September 2020.
• The Francis Fontan Fund Fellowships are being paused until the end of September 2020.
• Staff will be working remotely. The Windsor office is closed to visitors and EACTS members until further notice.
• We continue to plan for the 34th EACTS Annual Meeting to take place in Barcelona from 8-10 October 2020. We expect EACTS Academy courses to resume from October 2020.

EACTS Academy courses

We have regrettably cancelled the following courses:

• Thoracic Surgery: Part I, 26-28 March, Windsor, UK
• Cell and secretome-based therapies: Translating science into clinical practice, 23-24 April,
Pavia, Italy
• Endovascular Skills Programme, Part I (8-9 May), Part II (3-4 July), Part III (11-12 December), Windsor, UK
• Endoscopic Port-Access Mitral Valve Repair Drylab Training, 18-19 May, Maastricht, the Netherlands
• Fundamentals in Cardiac Surgery: Part II, 1-5 June, Windsor, UK
• EACTS Aortic Valve Repair Summit, 8-9 June, Rome, Italy
• Minimally Invasive Techniques in Adult Cardiac Surgery (MITACS), 18-19 June, Leipzig, Germany
• Endoscopic Port-Access Mitral Valve Repair Drylab Training, 31 August – 1 September, Maastricht, The Netherlands
• Reconstruction of the Aortic Valve and Root: A practical approach, 16-18 September, Homburg Saar, Germany

If you have registered to attend one of the cancelled courses, a member of EACTS staff will be in contact with you. Refunds for registration fees for EACTS Academy courses will be provided.

We continue to plan for the 34th EACTS Annual Meeting to take place in Barcelona from 8-10 October 2020, providing a year’s worth of education in three days. Our EACTS Academy courses will also resume from October 2020.

Francis Fontan Fund Fellowships

With immediate effect we are temporarily pausing the Francis Fontan Fund Fellowships until 30 September 2020. Fellows will not be attending any EACTS related courses, surgical placements or other learning opportunities. We are in touch with fellows to discuss the implications and all Fellowships will be extended. For further information, please visit the Francis Fontan Fund Fellowships https://www.eacts.org/the-association/francisfontanfund/.

Warning: Marketing Scam

Please be aware of marketing scams linked to the coronavirus. We understand that a phishing email has been received by several people purporting to be from the EACTS President. The initial emails invite a response and a follow up email then requests money, citing travel issues due to the coronavirus.

EACTS has nothing to do with any such emails. The emails have not come from EACTS email accounts. We are alerting you to this marketing scam as the emails have been received by some people closely connected with EACTS.

Please refer to official advice in your country on reducing the risk of receiving marketing scams and how to report them.

Contacting EACTS

We have also taken action to support the health and safety of EACTS staff. We are encouraging colleagues to work from home. Our Windsor office in the UK is closed until further notice to EACTS members and visitors. You can continue to contact the office about EACTS related queries by emailing staff direct or using the generic email address: info@eacts.co.uk

Stay safe and follow official advice
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Melissa Allison joins EACTS

5 March 2020

After twenty years in the cardiovascular industry, today Melissa Allison joins the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS) as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. Melissa will take responsibility for the day to day management of EACTS, based in Windsor, UK, and will work with the Secretary General, Professor Domenico Pagano.

Melissa is re-locating from Amsterdam, Holland, where most recently she has been Vice President, Marketing and Education (Europe, Middle East and Africa), with AtriCure successfully spearheading new education programmes and reshaping the company’s brand presence. Melissa brings an excellent knowledge of the cardiothoracic sector and has a successful track record working with industry partners and clinicians across the heart team including cardiologists, electrophysiologists and surgeons.

EACTS Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Melissa Allison, said:

“I am thrilled to be joining EACTS and am looking forward to this exciting new challenge. I am looking forward to working with colleagues and international partners to deliver world class education programmes and other wide-ranging services for EACTS members.”

Professor Domenico Pagano, EACTS Secretary General, said:

“I am delighted that Melissa is joining our Association from industry and I am looking forward to working with her. Melissa has a strong commitment to education, and the dynamic education programmes she has developed are highly regarded. She has significant experience in the sector, has worked at international level and already knows many of the industry partners, surgeons, cardiologists and other members of the heart team with whom we work. Melissa will play a vital role supporting our staff, help deliver our strategic vision and ensure the Association goes from strength to strength.”

-ENDS-