RISE’s Women in Health Care Leadership Summit will return for its sixth consecutive event Dec. 14-15 in San Diego to connect entry-level and top executives in health care, career coaches, and leadership gurus to share tools for women empowerment and leadership in the industry. Speaking with RISE ahead of the summit, keynote speaker Dr. Amy Nguyen, senior national physician executive, Optum, shared strategies she leveraged to position herself as a leader.

As a minority female physician, Dr. Amy Nguyen has faced her fair share of barriers throughout her career. Even after nearly two decades of experience in the industry, she continues to rely on her own strategies to empower herself as a leader in health care.

“Being a minority female physician, I encounter minor and major aggressions every day by those who are my counterparts—other physicians, other races, etcetera,” she said, sharing the example of people referring to her as “Dr. Amy” during a meeting but addressing other white male physicians as “Dr. Smith.”

“An example of clear blatant dismissal is stonewalling and gaslighting when they do not engage at all during a meeting,” she said. Her advice for similar situations: address the issue with the individual directly, after the meeting to avoid unnecessary conversation derailments, to prevent too much time passing or any miscommunications.

Dr. Nguyen will deliver a keynote address on leadership and strategy for women in medicine at The RISE Women in Health Care Leadership Summit on Dec. 14-15 in San Diego. Throughout her keynote, she’ll share tools to emerge and thrive as a leader in the health care industry, create a culture of diversity and inclusion when you’re a minority, manage care teams in the provider space, and establish relationships and collaboration across teams.

For other women striving to be a leader in the industry, a few of Dr. Nguyen’s recommended strategies include working with a mentor, either within or outside the industry, who you meet with regularly; creating a vast network; maintaining a sense of humor throughout the adventure; and setting a clear brand for yourself.

A critical component to cultivating female leadership in the health care industry is fostering an environment and culture of inclusion and diversity. “Everyone thrives in an environment where our inherent worth is recognized, we can be safe to express our authentic selves, and we know we belong to something bigger,” she said.

The RISE Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit

So how can leaders promote diversity and inclusion among their teams? It requires self-awareness, willingness, and commitment. An important starting point, Dr. Nguyen said, is for leaders to acknowledge their own gaps in understanding bias; learn from others within the community but without an expectation for others to teach them; practice what they preach; and find a place of commonality to build from to enrich their own community and network.

When an organization prioritizes diversity by embracing differences in areas such as ethnicity, race, age, gender, and sexual orientation, and ensures each person feels valued and connected, the extraordinary happens, according to Dr. Nguyen.

 “When we come together, the power of each one of us is magnified,” she said. “By including and appreciating diverse people, perspectives, and backgrounds, we generate stronger commitment, more creative solutions, and better results.”

Dr. Nguyen will deliver her keynote presentation, “Leadership and Strategy for Women in Medicine,” at 9:40 a.m. PST on Wednesday, Dec. 15 during the live, in-person event, The RISE National Women in Health Care Leadership Summit in San Diego. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to attend. Click here to see the full agenda, roster of speakers, how to register, and health and safety protocols.