Seven Lessons from Women in Leadership at NYU Langone

More women are entering the medical field than ever before. In 2017, for the first time, the number of women enrolled in US medical schools exceeded the number of men. And this wasn’t a one-time fluke—that trend has continued. Changes are in motion.

At NYU Langone one outcome of these changes is that as of 2022, the NYU Langone medical board is led by three women: Joan F. Cangiarella, MD, vice chair of clinical operations in the Department of Pathology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and chair of the medical board; Tessa (Kate) Huncke, MD, vice chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Care, and Pain Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, chief of service for anesthesiology at NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital, and vice chair of the board; and Katherine Hochman, MD, director of the Hospitalist Program at Tisch Hospital and board secretary.

The medical board is key to NYU Langone’s success, the business staff of the medical and dental supervising the conduct of clinical sites, implementing policies, and recommending actions on medical matters. As leaders of this vital group, Dr. Cangiarella, Dr. Huncke, and Dr. Hochman offer guidance for other aspiring leaders.

Speak Up

While roles in leadership may seem a logical outcome when examining the careers of these women, none of them remembers making the conscious decision to pursue that particular goal.

“A lot of my career has been about being at the right place at the right time,” says Dr. Cangiarella. “But of course, there are ways to increase the odds of that happening. When you put yourself out there, say ‘yes,’ or even volunteer without anyone asking, opportunities grow from that.”

True. I also said ‘yes’ a lot,’ says Dr. Hochman. “And sometimes I went for things I didn’t get. It stings when that happens, but you get up and get back out there. For me, becoming a leader was a result of—not a prerequisite for—hard, meaningful work. Leadership is all about the team and working together to make meaningful change for our hospital system and for our patients.”

Find a Mentor

While she too has a history of stepping up, Dr. Huncke points to another career driver that’s crucial to the creation of new opportunities: mentors.

“I am so grateful for my mentors. Even when feedback is a little harsh, it’s so valuable. And you need that just like you need encouragement,” she says. “My mentors have been instrumental. They’ve promoted my progression, and in some ways they’ve made my career.”

“Absolutely,” affirms Dr. Cangiarella. “To have someone to support and guide you or who is able to actively advocate for bringing you into a certain program or position is absolutely invaluable.”

Support Your Colleagues

When asked about the importance of women in medical leadership, again there’s agreement. They highlight mutual support as a value they see women actively bringing to the mix.

“We all love our work. We live our lives here—caring for our patients and being around our colleagues,” says Dr. Hunck. “But a lot of us also have families, so it’s just very natural for us to strive for a work–life balance by working together and helping each other out.”

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