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UNC Department of Anesthesiology is pleased to recognize Professor of Anesthesiology Lavinia Kolarczyk, MD, FASA, for being spotlighted as the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists (SCA) newsletter “AWEsome Woman Interview” in its May 2023 issue. Across the institution (UNC Medical Center/UNC Health), Dr. Kolarczyk is a well-regarded quality improvement expert and leader in design, implementation, and strategic spread of evidence-based clinical care pathways. She currently serves as UNC’s Division Chief of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology, UNC Health Perioperative Care Redesign Medical Director, and Associate Director of the UNC Institute for Healthcare Quality Improvement.

Within SCA, Dr. Kolarczyk is highly involved in committee service and leadership. She leads the SCA’s Women in Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology (WICTA) special interest group and has recently overseen the development of a WICTA national speaker database of women and under-represented minorities. In May 2023, she transitioned to serving as Chair of the SPA’s Enhanced Recovery After Thoracic Surgery (ERATS) committee. 

In her spring 2023 interview, Dr. Kolarczyk described how she was drawn to subspecialize in cardiothoracic anesthesiology during her medical training.

“I had tremendous exposure to cardiac and thoracic anesthesia during residency. I loved the challenge of these medically and surgically complex cases. I was fortunate to have incredible mentors … who helped guide me throughout residency and fellowship, teaching me the skills to manage the sickest of the sick. I am truly grateful for how they influenced my clinical practice and my career.”

Drawing from personal experiences to address the challenges faced by women in medicine, Dr. Kolarczyk noted:

“Simple, sage advice: Be balanced, poised, and confident.  Gender and age discrimination continue to be a problem for women in medicine. Discrimination comes from all sides — surgeons, patients, nurses, and even colleagues within our own field. I was told once during training that someone with my personality type would not fare well in cardiac anesthesia. That comment has stuck with me for years, and I sometimes think to myself, ‘I wish he could see me now.’”

Sharing insights with peers from her own approach to balancing work and personal life as a highly involved, high-achieving physician, Dr. Kolarczyk noted:

“Balance is important to my overall well-being. After a long workday, I make a conscientious effort at home to disengage and be ever-present. This takes effort because evening ‘work creep’ is tempting. I have made a personal decision to not install work email on my personal phone because it is a distraction. On my non-clinical days, I set small goals for my administrative work. For me, small goals that are crossed off my to-do list make me feel accomplished.”


To read the complete interview with Dr. Kolarczyk in the May 2023 SCA News, click here.