The Women in AMIA Leadership Program: The Art of Self Reflection

Feb. 21, 2020 / By Rachael Howe, RN, MS, Tiffany Harman, RN, BSN

We introduced the Women in AMIA Leadership Program in an earlier blog, and would like to provide an update. We’ve worked hard preparing for the first face-to-face meeting, held in conjunction with AMIA’s annual symposium in November 2019, and are happy to report that it was a great success. This first phase of the program focused on learning about self-awareness and authenticity in leadership. Before the face-to-face meeting, we completed multiple assignments and readings to aid us in reflecting on our personal leadership and character traits. One reference we found particularly helpful was a book by Merida Johns titled “Leadership Development for Healthcare.” This book contained a pathway for leadership with activities to apply to our life and career. Each of us took the VIA character strengths survey (formerly known as the “Values in Action Inventory”) and used our personality profile in our face-to-face meeting to get to know our peer support group members, our mentors, our coaches and ourselves. This profile, consisting of 24 character strengths, was interesting and useful in our interactions with each other to see how we each approach different use cases or work experiences. We also spent time on a vision/action board. The vision/action board was a fun exercise, not just to create a vision for our lives, but also to include actions to move that vision forward towards a goal that can be accomplished. 

In preparation for the face-to-face meeting, we were placed into peer support groups of 4-5 fellow scholars. We had a great experience getting to know each other and were able to be vulnerable and honest by doing an exercise called the “soundtrack of your life.” We picked five songs, each representing an important time in our life, and then one final song representing where we see our future. We then explained to each other what each of the songs represented. Everyone was very open and freely shared their life stories. This really helped break the ice and we gained a ton of respect for each of the women in our groups. The strength and perseverance we saw in each of them was very humbling and we feel so blessed to have met such a wonderful group of women. 

Meeting face-to-face with all the women together brought an eye-opening perspective. The stories we heard made us realize that physically and emotionally, the women in the leadership group were experiencing similar struggles. Sharing stories, talking about experiences, providing advice and feedback to each other was liberating and intense – like feeling a tsunami of emotions from 50 close friends! 

Since the face-to-face meeting, we have had our one-on-one coaching session which was amazing. We love how our coach Clare Coonan got us to look back on our vision and goals and gave us great insight on “next steps” so we can achieve success. We will be working with our individual groups throughout the program, meeting once or twice a month and we will complete a capstone project together. We will continue our study and complete the required activities in preparation for the next stage of the program, culminating in the second face-to-face meeting. We’re excited to report that the Women in AMIA Leadership Program has certainly started with a bang – it’s created a platform for a community of women to support one another and give each other a safe place to belong, encouraging us to pursue our dreams and letting us watch, applaud and encourage each other’s achievements. Raising each other up, realizing our strengths, collaborating and fine tuning our skills will be how we change the conversation. Stay tuned for our next progress report!

Rachael Howe is a nurse informaticist with the Clinical Terminology group at 3M Health Information Systems, and is a member of the Healthcare Data Dictionary (HDD) team.

Tiffany Harman, RN, BSN is the project manager for the 3M Healthcare Data Dictionary (HDD) team.