#WomenInLeadership: Dr Gosia Wamil

Q&A - 8TH MARCH 2021

Dr Gosia Wamil, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare, on the value of collaboration, the importance of flexible working, and why she is so enthusiastic about AI

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, our #WomenInLeadership series celebrates the inspiring women here in the HSMA. Each day we will be publishing a Q&A with one of the remarkable women who make up our vibrant community of healthcare specialists.

Today, meet Gosia Wamil MD PhD, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London. Dr Wamil specialises in heart failure, cardiomyopathies and advanced cardiac imaging. An expert in heart diseases associated with diabetes, she is a member the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) committee and conducts research utilising randomised controlled trials, artificial intelligence and digital health technologies.

Tell us more about your job?
I am a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London specialising in cardiac imaging, heart failure and inherited cardiomyopathies. I see patients in inpatient and outpatient settings. I have expertise in using different imaging methods such as echocardiography, cardiac MRI and cardiac CT in non-invasive assessment of patients with various heart problems.

I work closely with interventional cardiologists, helping them to choose the most appropriate procedures for patients using imaging. I also have a particular interest in the management of heart disease in people with diabetes, and in that capacity, I work with NICE on national guidelines for new therapies and innovative clinical pathways to address these conditions.

I’m also a clinician-scientist working in deep medicine at the Nuffield Women’s Centre at the University of Oxford. I work with a group of data scientists focusing on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict patient outcomes. I also collaborate with the Diabetes Trial Unit at Oxford on projects exploring why people with diabetes develop heart disease.

There is synergy between my clinical and academic roles that helps me ground my research in everyday clinical problems and address challenges experienced by people with heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

What led you to a career in healthcare?
Medicine offers a clear career path that is demanding and highly practical – both characteristics that appealed to me at the start of my journey. What ultimately drew me to it, however, was medicine’s universality and societal impact.

I am competitive and inquisitive, and, searching for a way to make a significant impact, I gravitated toward medicine and research. My curiosity has grown over time as I seek to tackle scientific problems at the fundamental level in heart disease and diabetes. I take pleasure from witnessing and contributing to innovations in clinical practice. Nothing is more rewarding than taking part in ‘bench-to-bedside’ efforts that make a difference.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?
I appreciate and enjoy engaging in a mix of complementary roles. Being a hands-on clinician exposes me daily to the most pressing problems my patients encounter. On the other hand, continuing my academic career has made me a better doctor. For example, analysing the mechanisms of diseases and thinking through their fundamentals helps me to explain clinical problems clearly to patients. 

Working with a larger team of Mayo Clinic specialists is extremely rewarding. Being able to find a truly personalised treatment for each patient I see is a privilege. I can tap into Mayo US specialists, even from the narrowest of fields, to discuss the cases I see here in London. I compare my clinical assessment with that of my colleagues in Rochester and collectively we build a treatment plan that is second-to-none. I am very excited that we are able to practise a truly interdisciplinary and holistic approach to patient care. The way Mayo Clinic focuses on patients’ needs demonstrates how medicine should be practised in the third decade of the 21st century. Here, I have all the time I need to find the best possible care for my patients without having to worry about the clock. The patient’s needs come first in every circumstance.

What would you tell other women who are just starting a career in healthcare?
Firstly, apply to organisations that foster an environment that mentors and promotes advancement of women. Only about 5% percent of clinical cardiologist in the UK are women, and only a relative handful of those are academic cardiologists.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to use flexible working patterns to balance your career portfolio. I am raising two children and being able to use a flexible working pattern has allowed me to optimise the balance of being a mum while progressing in my clinical and scientific career. I am grateful for those options and would encourage all organisations to allow women a much more fluid working pattern to facilitate their contributions and wellbeing.

Thirdly, prepare to persevere and to treat obstacles along your path as opportunities for growth resilience training.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be so good that they can’t ignore you.

What is something that your colleagues might not necessarily know about you?
While some in medicine worry that artificial intelligence may upend an established healthcare system, I am enthusiastic about the prospects for change. In my academic work, I am already seeing how machine learning can help us choose the right treatment for a patient.

If AI can take care of many of the repetitive tasks in healthcare, I believe we will have more time to spend with our patients and will be able to make medicine truly human-centric again.