Career Tips From Female Physician Leaders

Stephanie Cajigal; Nancy W. Dickey, MD; Gail L. Rosseau, MD; Helena W. Rodbard, MD; Kimberly A. Skelding, MD


November 18, 2014

Medscape: What inspired your interest in medicine and in cardiology in particular?

Dr Skelding: Similar to many medical students, I found a lot of things that I liked, but nothing with a perfect fit. It wasn't until I actually did a cardiology rotation as a resident that I decided that this was the perfect match for me. And I think in making these decisions, you have to really come to terms with what you are good at. If you find something that you enjoy and you find something that you're good at, you will make it a perfect match.

Medscape: At 36, you became a principal investigator in the CardioGene study, a project supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that is examining how a person's genes may affect their development of in-stent restenosis. Did you know early in your career that this was the type of work you wanted to do?

Dr Skelding: I didn't have much exposure to research in high school or college. It wasn't until I was learning about research in medical school, and then of course having opportunities to get involved in research in my training, that it really sparked my interest. It just became intriguing to be able to answer questions that no one knew the answer to, and the thrill of discovery.

Medscape: You're one of only a handful of women in the United States doing transcatheter aortic valve implantation, and the only female principal investigator in the transcatheter valve trials. Can you talk about what that work involves, and what is it like to work in a male-dominated field?

Dr Skelding: It's challenging. You have to be on your toes all the time. I think sometimes you have to work above and beyond.

When I started the transcatheter valve program at Geisinger in 2011, I was 5 months pregnant. And I knew that it was important to my patients and to the program to be very involved, but I knew that I also had to spend some time at home with my son. You have to make some time and small sacrifices in order to accomplish things. People will not necessarily remember that I was pregnant when I started the program, but they certainly would have remembered that when I had a son, the program just went away.


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