Women Impacting Healthcare Conference


Dr. Fierke and I

Last weekend, I attended Women Impacting Health Care at McNamara Alumni Center in the Twin Cities campus. Speakers included Cindy Kant, 3M Vice President, Mary Brainerd, president and CEO of HealthPartners, Julie Johnson, an associate dean at the U of M College of Pharmacy, Dan Pesut, from the nursing education and public service sector, and Dr. Fierke, an assistant professor at U of M College of Pharmacy Duluth with over fifteen years of experience in teaching leadership and communication courses. Their presentations reflected on the outstanding impact of women in the society and the importance of having women leaders in minimizing the gender discrepancy in organizations. Overall, there were over 80 attendees from different health care professions including pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, veterinary, public health, and nursing.

The first speaker, Cindy Kant, talked about the importance of the presence of women on the top position as CEOs and managers to instill hope and inspire other women to take more proactive steps in becoming leaders. However, this is difficult because women are often, since young age, socialized to be agreeable, quiet, and “lady-like.” Cindy Kant gave an example of two resumes with the same content but with different names, one with a female name and another with a male name written on it. How were they perceived by the employers? The male in the resume received responses such as “a leader” and a “go-getter.” However, the one with the female’s name written on it was seen as “too aggressive.”


“Well, she is TOO aggressive and hard to work with.” -Patrick Bateman

I believe that trying new things, stepping outside of comfort zone are important to fuel my creativity and desire to learn. It’s an epiphany of how myself fits into the rest of the society. It’s an opportunity for personal development.

One of the women I sat with was a manager at Fairview and a leadership development planner. She mentioned the younger generation is overly confident and bold sometimes. I agree that our generation is perhaps more sheltered than any other previous generations. In order to grow empathy and capacity to work well with others, I think it is important to humble ourselves and respect others who may have years and years of experience at real-world problem solving. There were a lot of older audience who came to sit with me at the conference, and it was a good experience to hear about their work and what they do in healthcare to get some examples.

It also gave me a chance to speculate ways to improve and grow as a person and understand some of the personal struggles I am experiencing since moving to Minnesota. Cindy Kant, the first speaker, talked about how she was often asked if she was from East Coast because she was very outspoken, bold, and used a lot of dramatic hand gestures. She mentioned leaning in closely or using a lot of hand gestures could be interpreted as intimidation and intrusion. When I approached her about this issue after her speech, she gave me a few advice along the lines of : step back, listen first, and always stay true to yourself, don’t be someone else and don’t lose your core. She also advised me to keep meeting new people and getting myself involved, and attending meetings and conferences to acquire various social situations.

Other key highlights of the conference included : the importance of feedback,  having somebody tell you about your “blindspots”: things that are unknown to you but known to others then you can tailor your actions and be courteous to others, the importance of having a mentor to guide you and foster you, asking for help, and consistently reflecting on your limits and strengths to raise self-awareness. All in all, I really enjoyed today, even the 6 hour driving from Duluth (I actually very much enjoyed the night drive!), because I had time to reflect and get to know about myself and others around me, as well as many insights on becoming the leader of the healthcare system.

“Those who mind does not matter and those who matter does not mind” –Dr. Seuss

I would like to share this song as it was on repeat to accompany my drive back to Duluth. 🙂

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1 Comment

  1. Dustin

     /  November 16, 2013

    Catchy song! I had to shazam it so I can grab it later. Thanks for sharing =).


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