Meet the Women in Medicine group
Alumni Leaders: Women in Medicine group offers discussion and solutions
Burnout, gender bias, pay gaps, career advancement, work-life balance—vital issues like these are at the heart of the Women in Medicine group. Formed in 2017, the group provides resources and fosters community among students, residents, fellows, alumnae, clinicians, and faculty members affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). It also serves to inspire women to thrive and succeed in medicine, providing a platform to discuss common challenges and solutions around topics such as mentorship, leadership, and career pathways.
Heidi Schwarz ’83M (MD), ’89M (Res) and Allison Ramsey ’05M (MD), ’08M (Res)—the group’s founding cochairs—meet quarterly with seven School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) alumnae committee members to plan programming. Before the pandemic, the group offered in-person lectures and networking events several times each year. When COVID hit, the committee kept its momentum with virtual programming.
“During the pandemic, many women, including those of us in medicine, took on an overwhelming amount of responsibility,” says Heidi Schwarz, a professor of Clinical Neurology at URMC. “Our careers have always required us to be productive, work long hours, and provide exemplary patient care. With COVID, we found that we had to do all of that while doing more at home and in support of our families, including our aging parents and children.”
Ramsey, an allergy, immunology, and rheumatology clinical assistant professor within URMC’s Department of Medicine, says this has taken a toll on many women regardless of whether they’re in medical school or work in education, industry, a clinical environment, or at a not-for-profit organization. “COVID has certainly reinforced how important it is to offer programs that focus on supporting women in medicine, expanding and diversifying perspectives, and informing and encouraging all who participate,” she says.
Career and work-wellness issues have prompted the group to develop a four-part discussion series for 2022 and 2023 around the theme of self-advocacy. The first two virtual events featured alumnae moderators and panelists from industry, health care, and education. The third session, scheduled for July, will explore empowerment.
“Although we may come from different places, be in different stages of our careers, and serve in different roles, we are all in medicine,” says Ramsey. “We face a landscape of similar and relatable issues and benefit from drawing on each other’s wisdom and experiences.”
“We encourage all women to join our programs and community,“ adds Schwarz. “There is a powerful, shared experience around which our group coalesces, and we know that the work we are doing helps so many women in our field.”
Learn more and engage with the Women in Medicine group on The Meliora Collective, an online platform that fosters personal and professional exploration among University alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students.
—Kristine Kappel Thompson, spring 2023