Third year of residency, 2013; pre Me Too and Times Up. It had been a tough year for me. I felt like I was coming into my own as a clinician, but I began to recognize that things were different for me as a woman physician. I noticed how often I was assumed to be a nurse, how frequent my orders were questioned compared to my male co-residents, and all of this weighed on me. I was one of two women in my resident class of eight; there were only four female faculty at my program. I felt like I didn’t belong in medicine. Then I read Lean In. It was a watershed moment for me. The book provided the evidence and language for the gender bias I experienced and observed. It also provided a tangible path for gender equity on a personal and societal level. I began to rediscover the hope and optimism that drew me to medicine, and I felt an intense need to share this book with my colleagues.
I discussed the book with Dr. Nicole Hurst, one of my faculty advisors. We decided to host a book club to discuss Lean In. It was a safe space for us to share our struggles and our successes. Part of the power of the group came from having mid-senior level faculty at the meeting, as they provided perspective and practical solutions.
From this book club, Dr. Hurst and I formed San Diego Women in Medicine & Science (WIMS). We have quarterly meetings; every meeting has a theme and we discuss an article, book, podcast or videocast. Each meeting includes some unstructured social time as well. One of my favorite meetings was on the topic of Resilience. We discussed Dr. Gillian Schmitz’s FIX 17 talk on Getting Over It: Rejection to Resiliency. During the meeting, a senior physician shared her experience with a very challenging situation that she had encountered. As I looked around the room, the range of experience spanned from intern to physician in practice for nearly 30 years. I could almost palpate the connection and support in the room. A few years after our group had formed, Dr. Hurst left for the East Coast. She began to form a Women in Medicine group at her new institution. She asked for the list of materials we had used for WIMS meetings, and from there, it became clear that we needed to build a shared and enduring curriculum. We reached out to the FemInEM team and formed a working group to build the curriculum. We are excited to launch it on July 1, 2019, just in time for a new class of interns.
Our working group includes Dr. Francesca Cimino, Assistant Professor in Family Physician at the Uniformed Services University, Dr. Katrina Landa, Navy EM Physician in 29 Palms, CA, Dr. Nicole Hurst, Associate Professor in Emergency Medicine from Uniformed Services University, Dr. Maria Sturchler Chief Resident at Kaiser Permanente San Diego and Dr. Jenny Beck-Esmay, from FemInEM, along with myself.
Women in Medicine (WIM) and Groups on Women in Medicine (GWIMS) are an important component to promoting gender equity in medicine. These groups serve as a way for medical students, residents and junior staff to access tailored professional development for the challenges that women face. Along with professional development, the groups can also serve as a safe space for sharing struggles and success in a supported environment.
The FemInEM Women in Medicine (WIM) Curriculum is a free, open access curriculum that may be used by individuals and groups to promote understanding of gender bias in medicine and strategies for women to thrive personally and professionally. It can be used asynchronously for self-directed personal development. The curriculum is organized by modules. Resources can be used by the individual or to fuel discussion such as focus groups, local meetings, faculty development, residency or fellowship rotations, etc. Each module contains recommended resources for journal and book clubs as well as focused goals, objectives, and discussion prompts. Content is organized into modules, then organized by objectives and length of time for completion. The first module, Communication, is available now, and new modules will be released on a regular basis. Coming soon are modules on Leadership as well as Mentorship & Sponsorship. Modules in development include those on Gender Bias & Promoting Equity, Career Progression & Negotiation, Resiliency, Finances, Work-Life.
The curriculum will continue to be revised and improved, please send your ideas or suggestions to [email protected] We also want to see your WIM and GWIMS meetings; please post pictures and be sure to tag @feminemtweets and include the hashtag #WIMTime.