By Caroline Molins, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

Assistant Recruiting Director, Florida Emergency Physicians

Curriculum Director, Florida Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency

More than 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface, intense heat and crushing pressure forms carbon molecules into the hardest gemstone on the planet. To make it to the surface, the crystals must survive a massive volcanic eruption — the likes of which this planet has not seen in millions of years.

Any woman making her place in the world of emergency medicine knows about pressure. She’ll understand what it means to survive a trial by fire. A woman working in emergency medicine needs to be a diamond; made unbreakable by every tough call, long shift and challenging critical patient she faces. Don’t forget the challenges of being a daughter, mother, wife and best friend.

Within our group, Florida Emergency Physicians, to be a GEM, or part of the group Girls of Emergency Medicine, is a sparkling badge of honor. The name may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but for Dr. Amabel Cabatu, bringing the women of one of the largest emergency medicine groups in the Southeast together was important.

“For a long time I felt very alone as a female physician. It was very important to me to see women in medicine become friends and create a culture of encouragement,” said Dr. Cabatu. “We should inspire, support, mentor and lift each other up. Together we can evolve the role of women in medicine.”

The GEMs meet every four to six weeks outside of clinical work. Frequent topics of discussion include wellness and workplace matters. It’s a great chance to socialize with women who understand each other. The GEMs of FEP are as bright, bold and beautiful as the gemstones of the world. Women in the group come from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities, combining their diverse experiences for the betterment of the entire group and every patient they treat.

Florida Emergency Physicians has a long history of inclusive hiring. Founded in 1969 by Dr. Rodney Kang, FEP currently staffs emergency departments for 11 Florida Hospital locations, including two freestanding EDs in Orlando and Central Florida.

Dr. Mark Kruger, the first board-certified Emergency Physician hired by FEP in 1984, looks back on the early years and said FEP always looked for the “best people to work for us, and that will never change.”

For Dr. Patricia Nichols, FEP was her first job after her residency 12 years ago. She said her career here has been filled with opportunities for professional growth and leadership within the organization. “I have had tremendous growth with FEP, and have seen more female physicians have the same growth. I envision that we will continue to support our women in leadership and foster their professional growth,” said Dr. Nichols.

From the early beginnings, FEP has had multiple women on the physician team with pivotal roles in making FEP the successful practice it is today.

Dr. Cheryl Reynolds, now retired, is recognized as a pioneer within FEP. She helped develop one of the strongest Risk Committees in Florida, and she was an intricate part of FEP’s powerful administrative and entrepreneurial business model.

Dr. Martiza Rodriguez, ED Medical Director of Florida Hospital Apopka, and Dr. Lisa O’Grady, ED Assistant Medical Director of Florida Hospital East, showed leadership through their strong clinical work, balancing their work while having young families over the courses of their more than 15 years with the group.

The ED Medical Director of Florida Hospital Celebration, Dr. Vanessa Peluso, another groundbreaker, helped lead the Emergency Department at Florida Hospital Celebration Health and turn it into a world-renowned hospital, trusted by the many tourists traveling to Orlando for their holidays.

In 2013, the AAMC reported woman comprise just 25.5% of all active emergency physicians in the U.S. FEP’s current roster of physicians is 35.5% female, employing 53 women out of a total of 149 physicians. When it comes to leadership, about 25% of the partners are women, four campuses have women as part of their emergency department medical directorship, and many women have served as hospital Chief-of-Staff. Even on the academic front, three out of the nine physicians comprising FEP’s core faculty are women.

One of FEP’s more recent hires, Dr. Omayra Mansfield, is part of the GEM group. She said she decided to accept a position with FEP in part because she saw opportunities for leadership were open to anyone who worked hard enough. “Opportunities await those who seek them,” she said.

In an article for Forbes Magazine, “The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits Of Women,” Glenn Llopis wrote that he felt most women leaders were opportunity-driven, strategic, passionate, entrepreneurial, purposeful-meaningful and highly valued their traditions and family. I believe the women who join FEP embody these principles. Over the years, their influence and leadership have helped diversify this group and make FEP unique and successful.

I want work with people who help those around them to succeed. I want to be inspired by their fire-strengthened characters to work hard, give great patient-centered care, and to better serve my community. For me, knowing the many facets of what makes a woman shine as a leader are not only valued, but sought after by this group, tells me this is a place I want to build my career and make a difference. I am proud to be a part of FEP and one of their GEMs.