A View from the Chair

September is Women in Medicine Month and this year’s Give Her A Reason To Stay In Healthcare campaign is a call to action for businesses, organizations, healthcare institutions, and individuals to find and act on specific ways to support women in medicine at this critical time.

The campaign has a list of actions for leaders, and I wanted to update you on what we are currently working on, and committed to achieving in each of these areas in the Department of Medicine.

Pay her fairly

The Department of Medicine Gender Equity Council is augmenting the system-wide work led by Dr. Trish Kritek regarding salary equity.

Promote her now

Our Gender Equity Council has also been analyzing data on the numbers of women in acting positions, at assistant, associate and full professor by division, and have talked to faculty at other institutions who have had success in increasing the promotion rate of women and URM faculty. They are in the process of developing a number of proposals to help increase our promotion rates for women.

Equity in Faculty Promotions

GEC lunch series logoWe are proud to present the inaugural Gender Equity Lunch Series on “Equity in faculty promotions” on September 30, moderated by Drs. Leah Marcotte and Rashmi Sharma.

Led by guest moderators, and hosted by the Gender Equity Council, the lunch series will focus on topics related to gender equity and leadership development.

Highlighting achievements

The Gender Equity Council is also charged to work on four new awards – the Women of Excellence Awards – to honor women and gender minorities in the Department of Medicine. Four awards will be presented each year (one faculty or trainee and one staff award) in two categories: Mentorship and Trailblazer. Stay tuned for more details!

In addition, I am also personally committed to nominating women for awards (UW, regional, national), and we are currently working on a more formalized process for this within the DOM.

Give her a grant or other funds to support her work

It is with great excitement that I highlight here that the three recipients of the 2021 Chair of Medicine Scholars Awards are women: Drs. McKenna Eastment, Leah Marcotte, and Ana Weil.Chair of Medicine Scholars Award recipients 2021

The Chair of Medicine Scholars Awards, initiated in 2013, are awarded annually to meritorious University of Washington Department of Medicine trainees to foster their transition to the roles of physician-scientist and principal investigator. Each award offers $50K per year for two years in salary support to facilitate transition to appointment as a junior faculty member.DADSA recipients 2021

Additionally, 2/5 of our inaugural Diversity Scholar Award recipients are women (Drs. Crystal Brown and Helen Stankiewicz Karita). 

Established in 2020, the Department of Medicine Diversity Academic Development Scholar Awards (DADSA) were developed to promote and foster the transition of meritorious trainees to the roles of junior faculty and principal investigator. 

We promote these and other grants received by women via our public website, social media, our weekly newsletter, and our new Gender Equity Ambassador program.

Sponsor her for a specific career opportunity

Division Head recruitments

Dr. Rotonya CarrWe are in the process of recruiting four new Division Heads (Gastroenterology, General Internal Medicine, Nephrology, and Rheumatology). Our search committees selected 7/9 female candidates to advance to the final stages in the first three searches (we just launched the Rheumatology search).

While we have not made a final decision on General Internal Medicine or Nephrology, we have selected Dr. Rotonya Carr as our new Division Head in Gastroenterology. Dr. Carr starts on October 1.

Dr. Carr joins five other female division heads (out of 13) in the department.

Dean’s Committee on Women in Science

Our faculty make up more than one-third of the members of the Dean’s Standing Committee on Women in Science: Nisha Bansal, Jennifer Best, Katherine DeNiro, Roxanne Kerani, Trish Kritek, Nina Lamble, Kari Nelson, Maryann Overland, Stephanie Page, and Leah Yoke.

This committee’s mission is to foster career development and wellness as well as address gender inequities in hiring, compensation, and advancement among women faculty members for the benefit of all members of the School of Medicine.

Residency Program

In our IM residency program, 60% of our associate program directors are women, 75% of our assistant program directors and 86% of our pathway directors. Female residents have made up 52-64% of our program every year for the past 12+ years.

Ensure she has appropriate time off to care for herself and her loved ones

During the pandemic, we have provided opportunities for employees to work from home whenever possible, and have offered flexibility around return to work during this latest surge.

We created the Care and Share interactive platform to connect people offering and seeking support (childcare, carpooling, pet care, and other needs) during the pandemic.

We just learned about other innovative and exciting options to support working women further and will share shortly.

Telehealth

During the pandemic, our telehealth increased to 62,667 visits compared to 34 annual visits in FY19. We now have a taskforce working on program infrastructure to support a coordinated, robust Digital Health Program. 

Knowing firsthand the added stresses of homelife in the pandemic, I have been particularly sensitive to the addition of any extra work. While so much needs to be done, we need to be careful with our internal resources during these challenging times.

Offer childcare

I realize this is a complex issue and an ongoing concern. Early in the pandemic, I held a townhall on childcare, which created a much-needed dialogue on finding creative solutions for families with children to help support a stable home environment. At that time, we sent out a survey and subsequently matched families into neighborhood pods. We also worked with the new KinderCare daycare facility in Wallingford to hold spots for family planning.

Drs. Trish Kritek and Anne Browning are leading a UW Medicine wide charge to look at how the pandemic has impacted women, particularly those with children. We will continue to advocate for onsite child care and other means to support caregivers.

Parental leaveDrs. Lia Barros and Lauren Feld

An upcoming Gender Equity Lunch Series (Oct. 25) will be on the topic of parental leave, moderated by Drs. Lia Barros and Lauren Feld. I encourage you to join the discussion as we work on broadening options.

Provide a safe and harassment-free workplace

I am committed to creating a workplace and clinical environment that focuses on gender equity and the prevention of sexual and gender harassment.

Our new councils on gender equity and LGBTQ+, along with our diversity councils, are also working on improving the culture and climate in the department, as well as helping find ways to provide a safe space to work.

Bias Incident Reporting Tool

Our commitment to a culture of inclusivity is shaped by the actions we take to recognize injustice and address and correct it where it occurs. One such measure is the Bias Incident Reporting Tool, created and maintained by the UW Medicine Bias Response Team.

This tool offers a mechanism for all community members to safely report incidences of bias and misconduct, and to receive a clear and streamlined response.

Strategic plan

We conducted a survey before we started work on the Department of Medicine strategic plan. Based on the survey results, the most important key area for us to focus our efforts was to foster a culture that is supportive, diverse and inclusive.

This strategic plan will direct the future of our department for many years to come, and will be rolled out soon. I thank everyone who participated in these efforts.

We have a long way to go, but I wanted make sure you know that we are working on inequities, and will continue our work. I am the first female chair of this department in its over 70-year history. I am thrilled to be here, and my goal is to provide all of you with many reasons to stay in healthcare, and in this department.

Thank you all for being an integral part of this department, and for all that you do. You are valued, and I am happy to be on this journey together with all of you.

What can you do?

Please join me in supporting women in medicine! Here are some ways to help:

  • Nominate her for an award
  • Invite her to be a co-author or speaker
  • Cite and disseminate her research
  • Thank her for her commitment to excellent patient care
  • Write a positive online review or send a note to her boss
  • Find thoughtful ways to tell her the work she does is important
  • Spread the word!
    • On social media use the hashtags #GiveHerAReasonToStay and #WomenInMedicine