On the evening of August 10, about 40 women faculty, residents and fellows from the Department of Medicine gathered at Saint Joseph’s Public House in Indianapolis to socialize, share experiences, and identify new ways to support and encourage one another.
The event, titled "Prescription for Change: Amplifying Women in Medicine and Science," was hosted by Francesca Duncan, MD, of the Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS) group.
“As a junior faculty member, I believe it is so important to bridge the gap between trainees and faculty in medicine and science,” said Duncan, who is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
This open forum was the first WIMS event targeted specifically to women-identified residents and fellows in the Department of Medicine. It was “a resounding success,” according to Cindy Brown, MD, who is WIMS co-chair.“I was so excited to see the enthusiasm of this group,” she said.
Sarah Seyffert, MD, a fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care, said that she initially attended the event with the mindset that it was a social gathering.
"However, it was empowering to see women of all backgrounds and at different stages in their careers come together to discuss both our struggles and our triumphs as women in medicine," she said.
During the gathering, the attendees shared both the good and the bad experiences that have shaped them into the clinicians and researchers they are today, Duncan said. They also discussed ways to encourage, support, and amplify each other as women in their respective fields.
“Being a woman in medicine poses certain challenges, and sometimes we feel that our voices go unheard,” said Katie Partyka, MD, a PGY-3 resident in the Internal Medicine/Pediatrics program. “This event created a space for women at all different stages of training to share their stories, support each other and collaborate.”
Kassy Kneen, MD, a PGY-1 intern in the Internal Medicine residency, said she attended the event to learn about mentorship opportunities from other female physicians, and, being new to both IU and Indianapolis, make connections.
“I had a great experience hearing about all the different ways the group is involved with Graduate Medical Education, and hearing advice about intern year,” she said.
Duncan said she hoped the event helped trainees recognize themselves in the stories and experiences of the faculty members. Additionally, she hopes that the event created opportunities for mentorship and collaboration.
Ideally, many of these new connections will continue to be fostered via WIMS. Brown says she is inspired to see the women who will be the future of the department–and of medicine more broadly.
"By attending this event, I realized that there is a community of women at IU who are eager to support me not only in medicine, but also willing to help me navigate life as a woman in general," said Seyffert. "I couldn’t ask for a better environment to train in or community to be a part of.”