By Tiffany Hackett, MD, MBA, FACEP

While each of us has our own unique challenges working as physicians and advanced providers in the medical field, we all share the same basic struggles.

Many women I talk with find it difficult to advance in the medical field, where women hold only 20 percent of leadership positions. I have yet to meet the woman who has mastered the challenge of balancing her medical career and home life with complete confidence. And let’s have a raise of hands by providers who regularly carve out a block of personal time each week.

Rather than cope with these issues alone, in 2015, I got together with a small group of CEP America providers to discuss creating a collective voice for women at CEP that would:

  • Provide leadership and networking skills
  • Improve confidence in the workplace
  • Help climb the promotion ladder
  • Strengthen connections

Because CEP America is a fully democratic organization, we received enthusiastic support from executive leadership to create the CEP Women in Medicine (CWIM) Workgroup; within a year we hosted our first CWIM (pronounced “swim”) forum at our annual conference. Of the 120 participants, 12 of them were men. Not all women’s issues affect only women!

Growing the Community

The dynamic discussions we enjoyed at our CWIM forum pointed to the need for a tool to maintain connections and provide support between annual events. We found that tool in CEP Community, our online forum for CEP partners and employees. In April 2016, we launched a pilot CWIM web page within CEP Community. Within four months, the number of users had more than doubled.

Over the past year, we have regularly posted new content to the CWIM page that addresses key issues and fosters conversation. Examples include:

  • Posts that share best practices and provide life hacks, such as how to be the best CEO of your household and what calendar apps to use to keep organized.
  • Our most popular editorial post to date, “A Day Without Women Would Have Been Tough In The ED ..,” by Patricia Kahn, DO, which referenced the “A Day Without a Woman” campaign.
  • A white paper, soon to be published, titled “Having a Baby in CEP America,” designed to make it easier for medical directors, site leads, pregnant providers, and future co-parents (including dads and non-pregnant moms) to have early and open conversations about the challenges during this exciting time.

We now have an audience of 2,743 users with access to our cause.

The Future of CWIM

Today, our work group meets quarterly to develop programs that engage and support women throughout the organization. This year, the focus of both our content and events will be on leveraging technological resources to connect with others and building communities.

Coming up at our 2017 CWIM Partnership Forum on Thursday, October 5, we are excited to be featuring CEP’s own Hala Sabry, DO who founded the vastly popular online community, Physician Moms Group, which currently has over 65,000 members. Her presentation will highlight how online platforms provide women with a place to share information, exchange expertise, and provide resources.

We will also be hosting our second annual CWIM Leadership Development Seminar in March 2018, targeting women who are looking to climb aboard or ascend our leadership ladder. We hope that as more women become involved with CWIM and new providers join CEP America, they will find a welcome place in our CWIM community to share information, exchange expertise, and provide resources.

We feel fortunate that we are part of an organization that actively promotes professional growth. CWIM is just one of a range of leadership development programs, including Administrative Fellowships in emergency medicine, hospital medicine and anesthesiology, and our PA Fellowship in Emergency Medicine, that gives providers the tools they need to advance professionally.