This award goes to the Emergency Medicine Department that has shown support of women in academic EM through organizational initiatives that address the recruitment, development and advancement of its women physicians, promoting gender equality, diversity, opportunity and inclusion.
Elizabeth Nestor, MD, Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brown University shares her experience at Brown.
I did my EM training in Delaware and my residency class was 4 women and 8 men. The EM faculty at Christiana was also 30% female, so I’d assumed my first job at the Brown Residency, would be roughly analogous. After all, I’d been interviewed by another woman, the redoubtable Angela Anderson, well-known lecturer in Peds EM, Toxicology and now Palliative Care. The RIH/Hasbro Children’s Hospital group was 25 full and part-timers; that much I knew.
So, at the end of my first month at the RI Hospital ED (I rotated between there and Miriam Hospital, part of the same hospital system which eventually merged with the RIH group and became fully integrated; they had a group of 11, one other of whom, part-time and IM trained, was a woman), I mentioned that I hadn’t signed out to any of the other EM women. Stunned silence on the part of the person I was signing out to: “well – there ARE no other women here.” Oh. Guess that’s why?
Some years intervened, and we can cut to where the Brown Department of EM, now over 110 physicians, doctors at the combined RIH/Hasbro, Miriam and Newport Hospitals serving over 260,000 patient visits yearly with 50 EM resident physicians, wins the AWAEM 2017 Outstanding Department Award at SAEM 2017 in Orlando. Accepting the award was the Chair of EM at Brown, Dr.Brian Zink, Professor of EM and Physician in Chief of the Department, who has brought the faculty to 42% women, in a specialty where the national average is 26% according to 2016 data.
Numbers do not tell the whole story, however, as women have achieved leadership roles in this department. From a Vice Chair of Faculty Development, through three assistant department directors, five division chairs (Sex and Gender, Simulation, Sports Medicine, Wellness and Emergency Neurosciences), two Directors of Special Projects (on the Adult and Pediatric sides), as well as the Program Director of the Residency, with 2 female APDs, Director of the PEM Fellowship, Director and Assistant Director of Medical Student Education: almost a clean sweep of Medical Education. Women’s hard work and leadership skills have been recognized, encouraged and developed at Brown.
Our women faculty are promoted to leadership roles, are encouraged in their academic journeys and are supported in their research. We have family-friendly policies and a good parental leave policy which is the best among Brown’s academic medical departments. Given that in the first 20 years as a Division of Emergency Medicine within the Department of Medicine there were no women at all, and given that promotion reflects length of tenure, the proportion of women in senior ranks is strikingly high: we currently have one Professor out of eleven at that rank, and 19 women associate professors out of 54, or 35%. The women in line for promotion currently in this year and the next will go far towards erasing that discrepancy, and I expect we will be at parity on the Associate Professor level within three years.
We have a clear path to promotion, and while salary data is not published, the behaviors and practices which are rewarded are published on accessible sites, as are the yearly citizenship requirements, so that they are transparent to all. The promotions committee is aggressive, encouraging people to stand for promotion in a timely fashion, and the yearly evaluation committee also publishes its metrics as well as the range of salary increases. We have external auditors who assure us that women are dealt with equally in terms of salary.
In short, over the 23 years of my career a revolution has occurred: there’s a lot of good news about women at Brown EM, and we are delighted and honored to have that recognized by AWAEM with this award. Thank you!