From WPS Chair Aleesha Shaik, MD, MPH
September is Women in Medicine Month (WIMM)! This year’s theme is Women in Medicine: Moving Forward Together. We are excited for you to join us through various activities we have planned throughout the month. Remember to use #WomenofAMA in your social media posts.
“It is literally impossible to be a woman.” In one of the most talked-about and resonant scenes in Barbie, America Ferrera delivers a formidable speech on the double standards of being a woman. Around the world, women watching the movie nodded in agreement as she described the contradictory and unrealistic expectations we face in every aspect of our personal and professional lives.
This extends to life in medicine. Like women in other careers, women physicians are paid less than our male counterparts, but if we ask for pay equity, we’re accused of complaining or not being team players. We have to be leaders, but not be bossy. We have to be mothers, but we are made to feel guilty when others are covering our shifts while we are on maternity leave. We wear the same scrubs as male doctors, but are considered less professional and are less likely to be recognized as doctors by patients, as noted by a study in JAMA. We have to advocate for ourselves, but still be graceful and grateful. The paradoxes are endless and exhausting.
“We have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong… It’s too hard!”
We need designated times like WIMM to collectively reflect on the issues women physicians face so we can change the culture of medicine and advance gender equity in medicine to Move Forward Together.
Webinar: Women Physician Leaders and Balance
The WIMM webinar, “Women Physician Leaders and Balance,” will be held on Sept. 28 at noon Central. The focus of the webinar is women physician leaders and work-life integration. Panelists will discuss the role of gender bias in professional and personal responsibilities, how organizational changes can promote wellbeing, and suggestions for improving wellness and balance. We are thrilled to be joined by three incredible women who are leaders in their fields and in this space.
- Angela Chaudhari, MD, OBGYN at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the P2P Network, a physician peer support program
- Jill Jin, MD, MPH, internist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine with expertise in burnout and physician parenting
- Roxana Mehran, MD, internationally recognized interventional cardiologist and clinical trial specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital, and co-founder of Women as One, an organization dedicated to helping women succeed in medicine
In harmony with this year's webinar, our WPS Governing Council shared how they achieve work-life integration:
“During my work commute, I love listening to audiobooks. When I get home, I take a break to spend time with family and friends by playing tennis, watching TV or trying new restaurants, before wrapping up the day with any remaining work.”―Aleesha Shaik, MD, MPH, WPS chair
"Work-life integration is challenging and requires daily effort. Scheduling time blocks allows me to focus on a specific task at a specific time, improve efficiency and prevent procrastination."―Siri Holton, MD, WPS vice chair and Young Physicians Section representative
“I achieve work-life balance by learning to prioritize my life and saying ‘no’ to things that are not on the priority list. Instead of trying to do everything, I try to empower others to take the lead more, allowing me more time to focus on things on my ‘to do’ list instead of taking on more.”―Nicole Plenty, MD, MPH, MS, WPS delegate
"My work-life ‘integration’ consists of finishing time-sensitive clinical work prior to evenings and weekends so that I can adequately rest and recharge. I also enjoy exercise and cat cuddles!"―Anna Brown, MD, MPhil, WPS alternate delegate
“My work-life integration means that I use tech aids to streamline my EHR and then after work, I play tennis. Exercise clears my mind and energizes me for patient care and surgery.”―Gloria Wu, MD, member at-large
“I achieve work-life integration by scheduling my academic or professional obligations earlier in the day or week such that I can spend the remainder of my time with my friends.”―Minali Prasad, Medical Student Section representative
“I make sure to ‘schedule’ time for ‘life’ activities―recreation, hobbies and ‘personal time’―to ensure that they receive the same priority as work activities.”―Elisa Choi, MD, member at-large
“I achieve work-life integration by frequently reevaluating my priorities and focusing on doing what is necessary at this moment―one day at a time, one decision at a time. Always headed towards my ultimate goal. I always make time for family and a little fun, too!”―Tiffani Bell-Washington, MD, American Medical Women’s Association representative
Check out our AMA social media channels all month to see WPS Governing Council members discuss various issues affecting women physicians and professional development.
We want to hear how our members achieve wellness or balance in their lives. Let us know by taking the survey. Responses will be compiled and shared in an upcoming edition of the “WPS members and news highlights.”
Last month we launched our new WPS Book Club and will be discussing our first selection, "Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men," by Caroline Criado Perez in the WPS GroupMe the last week of September. Please email us at [email protected] if you have book or podcast recommendations or if you would like to be added to the GroupMe.
Siri’s Book Club selection
We’re changing it up for our next discussion with a podcast episode, "How to Get Out of Survival Mode." The Happy Gynecologist, Amanda Miles, MD, discusses the Window of Tolerance, how to process stress and common factors that cause burnout in women physicians.
Last year, President Biden officially proclaimed that September would also be designated as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In the U.S., ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women. Since these cancers may not cause symptoms until advanced stages, it is important for patients to know their risk factors and see a gynecologist regularly. More information can be found at this CDC webpage.
For this month, we would like to recognize Susan Thompson Hingle, MD. Dr. Hingle is the president-elect of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and was our amazing vice chair for the WPS last year. She has previously served as chair of the American College of Physicians Board of Regents and Board of Governors.
Dr. Hingle has dedicated her career to being a champion for gender equity and supporting the advancement of women in medicine. She was a senior author on the ACP policy paper on gender equity in physician compensation and career advancement and is a prior recipient of the Giambalvo and Inspiration Awards. I can personally attest that Dr. Hingle is an incredible and inspiring mentor who epitomizes the idea of women empowering women. Be sure to check out her fantastic episode on the Curbsiders podcast on Work-Life Fit: Women in Medicine. We are so grateful to have Dr. Hingle as an active AMA member and look forward to seeing how she continues to change the culture of medicine for the better as president of AMWA.
Have information about WPS members doing great work? Email us at [email protected].