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Strength in Numbers: 9 Ways Women in Medicine Can Build Community, Grow Influence

September 19, 2017

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1. Create a support system for other women in medicine.

 “No man is an island ...,” wrote John Donne. No woman is, either. Being an independent trailblazer may have helped you at other times in your career, but to make a lasting impact, you need to create connections with others and advocate for women at your institution and beyond.

2. Facilitate meetings for women in medicine.

Once you have the connections, bring your brain trust together. Holding regular gatherings encourages diversity of thought, which yields the best ideas for solving problems. Be inclusive when inviting colleagues to these gatherings. Work together to identify and address specific challenges facing women in medicine.

“Experience has taught me that nothing is impossible if a group of talented women work toward a common goal.”

Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS
Dean and Vice President for Health Affairs
University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine

3. Hold networking events for women in medicine.

Invite a woman leader to speak to your group or feature her at a brown bag lunch session. She can be someone at your institution or someone in the field who is affiliated with an outside institution. You may even want to consider a woman leader from another field. Her background and professional experiences may offer fresh insight and inspiration.

4. Connect with local women’s groups and the community.

Reach out to other organized women’s groups in your specialty. Developing relationships with partner organizations that share some of the same goals and ideals can help you develop best practices and inspire new ideas.

5. Encourage mentorship to help women in medicine to succeed.

Create a group composed of women you’ve encountered during your education and career. Recruit these women to serve as mentors—to share the skills and knowledge they have acquired with the house staff, post docs, junior faculty, and emerging leaders at your organization.

“Women in medicine and science are inspired by the success of other women. Institutions can promote growth of women faculty by actively encouraging and protecting time for mentoring relationships that develop leadership skills.”

Evelyn Y. Anthony, MD
Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

6. Nominate women for awards and leadership positions.

Do you know a woman leader who has been influential in promoting women, minorities, or initiatives? The AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award recognizes both individuals and organizations. If you know other women doing outstanding work in medical education, research, teaching, institutional service, or other areas, consider nominating them for one of the AAMC Awards.

7. Create a virtual community where women in medicine can exchange ideas.

Develop a forum for women from your home institution and neighboring institutions to communicate or connect with each other, such as a listserve or a social media group. Compare notes on how your institutions handle issues pertinent to women in medicine and science.

8. Recommend women to be invited speakers at your institution.

How many times do you walk into a seminar or conference and find few women speakers? Seek out distinguished women in your specialty or research area and invite them to speak at your next event.

9. Use benchmarking data to determine how much progress women in medicine have made at your institution.

Look up your institution’s statistics on women students and residents, faculty ranks, promotions, departures and hires, and leadership positions. Compare your numbers with other schools. If you are lagging, make a presentation to your faculty or leadership group about how you can do more to advance, support, and promote women.

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