Celebrating Women in Medicine: Challenges and Inspiration from Women Physicians

Posted by Doximity TF Team

Celebrating Women in MedicineEach September, the American Medical Association (AMA) honors physicians who have offered their time, wisdom and support to advance women in medicine. The celebration, Women in Medicine Month, also recognizes the growing number of women in the profession.  

Women physicians are making great strides and there’s much to celebrate this month. AAMC reports that more women than men are now enrolled in medical schools. The AMA’s Women Physicians Section (WPS) was also created to influence and contribute to AMA policy and program development on issues of importance to women physicians – and to increase the number and influence of women physicians in leadership. 

What’s truly worth celebrating are the many women physicians who are playing important roles today. Following are five inspiring women physicians.

  1. Charlene Blake, MD, a cardiac anesthesiologist, was on the team at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) that made history last year when it became what is believed to be the first all-female heart transplant team. "I had to look around the room," Dr. Blake said. "I was like, 'Oh, we're all women here. This is incredible. I haven't seen this before.'”

  2. Amy Fiedler, MD, a cardiac surgeon specializing in caring for heart failure patients, is one of few women in her specialty. She was also part of the UCSF heart transplant team with Dr. Blake. "Every single person in that room that day that we did that heart transplant deserved to be there and is a high performer and was providing the absolute best care to that patient," Dr. Fiedler added. "And I think that's really inspiring."

  3. Dr. Patrice Harris, MD, MA, an American psychiatrist, made history when she was the first African-American woman to be elected president of the AMA (in June 2019). As president, she spearheaded the AMA’s efforts to end the opioid epidemic and acted as chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. During her presidency, Dr. Harris worked across every state to eliminate barriers to treatment, provide patients with access to affordable, non-opioid pain care, and fight the stigma faced by those with substance use disorders. What’s most inspiring, though, is her background. Growing up in the small town of Bluefield, West Virginia—the daughter of a railroad worker and a teacher—she never imagined that she would someday serve as president of the AMA. 
  4. Rose Mustafa, MD, is a Breast Surgical Oncology Specialist at Capital Health who says she chose breast surgery because she wanted to impact women’s lives significantly. “We need to take care of each other,” says Dr. Mustafa. “I cherish the strong bonds that I am able to form with my patients and their families while taking them through their diagnosis and treatment.”

    About breaking barriers, Dr. Mustafa says: “I think females make phenomenal surgeons, and nothing should stand in our way. We are astute physicians, compassionate caregivers, selfless mothers, wives, daughters, partners, and friends. The ability to incorporate all of who we are every day and deliver that to our patients is a gift. I encourage, and will continue to encourage young, capable females to challenge themselves, break through barriers and make a difference.” 

  5. Dr. Toyin Ajayi, MD, is the Founder and CEO of Cityblock Health, whose model of care meets individuals where they are, delivering highly personalized medical care, behavioral health care, and social services to members in neighborhoods where it’s needed most.

    Dr. Ajayi says of her role at Cityblock, “I come to this work as a physician.  I’m deeply passionate about caring for underserved communities. I come to this work from a place of real heart. This is my life’s work and my mission. I’m also a deep pragmatist, and I recognize that there are real economic forces that drive most of the decisions that people make in our healthcare system, certainly in the for-profit space, but even as we learn and read more about it, even in the not-for-profit space.”

According to an article from Giving Compass, if more women held leadership roles, they could have an empowering ripple effect on the health care workforce. As leaders, women are better able to lift one another up. Women in leadership positions are more likely to recognize the potential of and hire other women. That means better patient health, more opportunities for women in the health care industry, and even stronger economies.

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Topics: women in medicine

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