The Society of Critical Care Anesthesiologists

Women in Critical Care

February 3rd marks Elizabeth Blackwell’s birthday. Dr. Blackwell (3 February 1821 – 31 May 1910) was a British physician, notable as the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, and the first woman on the Medical Register of the UK. In addition to being an academic infectious disease specialist, she was an advocate for social justice and equity for women. She founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857 along with her sister Emily, and she played a significant role in the American Civil War by organizing nurses and educating women and girls. It is important when looking at history to include the contributions of Black women physicians who have equally contributed in the struggle to achieve the successes of today. In the book ‘Twice as Hard: The Stories of Black Women Who Fought to Become Physicians, from the Civil War to the 21st Century’, Jasmine Brown (Beacon Press, January 24, 2023) shares the incredible stories of nine pioneering Black women physicians beginning in 1860, when a Black woman first entered medical school. The stories of Dr. Rebecca Crumpler, Dr. Edith Jones, and Dr. Joycelyn Elders inspire and serve as a source of motivation to many young physicians on this Women Physician’s Day, when we celebrate the accomplishments of women doctors before us, and their struggles. We have come a long way since the days of these pioneering women physicians. However, much work remains to be done, and WICC and SOCCA hope to play an essential role in closing this gap.

Within WICC, we are dedicated to providing a community of mentorship, sponsorship and support that promotes the recruitment, development, advancement, and well-being of women in Critical Care Anesthesiology. In our first year, we have made substantial strides towards these goals. We have hosted a wellness webinar and several Fireside Chats with inspirational women leaders and academics, published a survey of our members exploring what women intensivists value and find a source of motivation, and published a white paper with holistic recommendations for organizations and societies on supporting our community. We have also submitted several abstracts and panel proposals to major meetings in Anesthesiology and Critical Care in the country and are also embarking on a systematic review on Women leadership in critical care across the world.

Our December Fireside Chat featured Professor Natalia Ivascu Girardi, who related a personal journey through academic achievement and tips on promotions and how to navigate the demands of personal life with a busy career. Dr. Girardi’s talk, like all other Fireside Chats, remains available as a recording on the WICC website. For 2023 programming, we have planned talks from inspirational women leaders including Drs. Margaret Wood, Rebecca Aslakson, Laureen Hill, and a panel on “Tackling Challenges in a Career in CCM” at different stages of a career, with Drs. Emily Vail, Brigid Flynn, and Sheela Pai Cole. We also held a Webinar on February 15 on the pressing topic of “Enhancing Women Applicants for Fellowships: Strategies for Success” ( featuring leading program directors from across the country (Drs. Hennessy, Sreedharan, Moitra and Williams). We also are hosting a networking event at the Annual Meeting in Denver (SOCCA Women in Critical Care and SOCCA Early Career group meet-up 7:00-9:00 PM on Thursday, April 13).

In summer 2023, we plan to launch a Podcast miniseries in collaboration with Stanford Medcast, a brainchild of our own Vice Chair, Dr. Kirsten Steffner and steering committee member, Dr. Amanda Kore Schilling. These podcasts will focus on non-clinical aspects of life in critical care medicine which may be particularly pertinent to women intensivists. Stay tuned for further announcements.

We hope you can join WICC and further our mission and vision by helping us contribute towards community, clinical science, mentorship and academia. We are always looking for energetic and committed members who will help carry the mantle of Drs. Blackwell, Crumpler, Jones and Elders.


Shahla Siddiqui, MD, MBBS, MSc, FCCM
Co-Chair, SOCCA Women in Critical Care Working Group
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, Massachusetts