CHICAGO – Each September, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes influential female physician leaders as part of Women in Medicine Month. To showcase the accomplishments of these leaders, the AMA Women Physicians Section (WPS) and the AMA Foundation today announced the winners of the 2021 Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women research grants program.

The Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women Award is administered by the AMA Foundation on behalf of the AMA Women Physicians Section. The AMA-WPS and AMA Foundation awards scholarships of up to $10,000 to health care researchers to identity and address issues that affect women physicians and medical students. The AMA-WPS and AMA Foundation have granted 31 research awards since 2006 on topics such as flexible work options, gender differences in the practice patterns of obstetricians/gynecologists, and the promotion and retention of diversity in medical education. Additional information about the award and Joan F. Giambalvo can be found on the AMA Foundation website.

“As we celebrate Women in Medicine Month, the AMA is honored to recognize this year’s awardees for their exceptional work aimed at improving the well-being and retention of female physicians in the workforce amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring gender equity in medical education,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. “This annual grant program reaffirms AMA’s commitment to increasing the influence of women physicians and advocating for women’s health issues. We will continue to support efforts to shine a light on and help address the important issues facing women in medicine today.”

One of the winning 2021 projects focuses on evaluating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on female physicians with children, with the end goal of developing a framework for how institutions can best support and retain these physicians, particularly those physicians who are in the early stages of their careers. It will be led by two women from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, Huma Farid, M.D., Associate Program Director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency program, and K. Meredith Atkins, M.D., Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education.

“The pandemic has had an indelible impact on the nation, and most particularly for our frontline health care workers. As women in medicine, we have witnessed and experienced first-hand the challenges female physicians face: changing work schedules, remote learning, isolation from our families, and a lack of consistent, reliable childcare. The impossible task of balancing it all was made even more challenging during the pandemic, but there are ways to help support female physicians that we aim to explore and promote through our project. By receiving the Giambalvo Award, we feel heard and acknowledged. It has bolstered us to pursue this interest in the hope that we can use the lessons gained from the pandemic to promote physician well-being and retain female physicians in the workforce,” said Dr. Farid.

The second winning project is a multi-site longitudinal study aimed at understanding the combined impact of race, ethnicity and gender on women’s experiences in graduate medical education, also known as residency. The project will be led by Robin Klein, M.D., MEHP, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine. The team of co-investigators includes 14 physicians from hospitals and medical schools across the country, including Massachusetts General Hospital; Brigham and Women's Hospital; University of Louisville; University of Alabama Birmingham; University of Chicago; University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Diego and Veterans Administration San Diego; and University of Virginia.

“Inequities and bias in learner assessment are a critically important yet understudied problem in medicine. Disparities in assessments likely contribute to maintaining inequities and gaps in representation across the profession. While evidence suggests gender and race/ethnicity independently influence assessment, what remains unknown is how gender and race intersect in assessment in medical education. We are thankful for AMA’s support of our team’s work to examine bias in medical education assessment at the intersection of race, ethnicity and gender. We believe this work is important to achieving true gender equity in the physician workforce,” said Dr. Klein.

The AMA has adopted numerous policies aimed at encouraging medical associations and other relevant organizations to study gender difference in income and advancement trends, by specialty, experience, work hours and other practice characteristics, and develop programs to address disparities where they exist. The AMA will continue to strongly support equity and diversity across medicine and promote professional growth and development for physicians at every stage of their careers.

The AMA Women Physicians Section (WPS) consists of more than 100,000 members of the AMA and aims to increase the number and influence of women physicians in leadership roles and to advocate for and advance the understanding of women's health issues.

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.