Women face unique challenges when it comes to moving into leadership roles. While women represent almost one-third of practicing physicians, 70 percent of PAs, and 91 percent of nurses, women hold just 20 percent of leadership positions in healthcare.
We recognize the barriers women in medicine face and seek to break them down by sharing the tools that have helped our women leaders build meaningful careers.
In this video, Tiffany Hackett, MD, Vituity’s Director of Leadership Development, gathers several of our physicians and advanced providers to discuss their own paths to leadership, the mentorship they enjoyed from other women leaders, and their success in bringing their perspectives to the practice of medicine.
Tiffany Hackett: I'm really excited that we have the opportunity to really talk about women in healthcare. As you all know, being women in medicine, we have some unique challenges that we face and just really need to be able to have that dialogue today.
I know you, as a hospitalist leader, Mariam, really have an interesting story. Would you mind sharing that?
Mariam Hasan: Sure. My story is an immigrant story. I came from Pakistan. I did my med school there. Trying to find a job which was flexible and would accommodate me as a mom, which is very hard.
When I got an opportunity to be leader at my site and director at the hospital medicine practice, one of the biggest reason to say yes was to be able to create that flexible environment for other women.
I have two daughters. I want them to know that even if you're a woman of color, or you're a Muslim woman, or a woman who cannot even speak proper English when I came to this country, you can make anything possible.
Koneechia Edwards: That's really inspiring, Mariam. You know, when I started my career, just like you, my priority was flexibility in order to spend time with my family.
I've also worked towards being a leader. It's been a challenge for me, because I was under the notion that having a young family, there was no way I could be a leader. How was I going to juggle being a leader as a working mom, or even just read a book?
Hearing your story is really inspiring to know that it's possible to be a working mom and be a leader and really have that balance as well as that happiness and satisfaction.
Naomi Bjornstad: One of the big questions that we get from women in medicine is, "How do I start on this path to leadership?"
For myself, I would say I started to volunteer for projects. I started to make myself available to do extra work or take on extra roles that needed filled within my department, and that's led to other opportunities.
I think one of the most important messages to put out there is to volunteer and make yourself available, even if you're not 100 percent confident that you're the perfect person for the job. You probably are and just don't realize it.
There's a lot of opportunity for mentorship along the way. There's a lot of opportunity to learn as you go. But it's not a reason to turn down a position. Just to keep going.
Vanessa Calderón: I couldn't agree with you more, Naomi.
As a Medical Director and a department chair, I believe that these female qualities that we have of caring, of empathy, of compassion, have only served to make me a stronger leader. We should always really be true and hold true to our authentic self as women.
Something I wish someone had told me when I was starting off as a young female leader is as a woman leader in a hospital, you will often be the only woman at the table. You may feel like you don't belong.
That imposter syndrome is real. It exists. We should always remember that we're equally qualified to be in that room.
When you're looking for your first job, just look for those organizations that are going to be supportive to young families. Look for organizations that are going to be flexible with your schedule and do sorts of things like that. When you're out getting interviewed, ask those questions.
Tracy Robinson: For me, it's really about the support that's out there — not only within my own practice site but within the community.
When I first came out and was working with a lot of surgeons, there are a lot of male surgeons that I was working with. It was really intimidating. It sort of felt like an old boys club, and I wasn't part of the old boys club.
To be part of a group where women are mentoring each other is just such a privilege, and it's really a fantastic thing.
Tiffany Hackett: I totally agree, and I love the fact that we're able to sit here and have this conversation about being women in medicine.
One of the things that I recognized within our company that was missing: it was that we just didn't really have a way to bring us all together to have this community, if you will.
As a result of bringing that up to leadership and proposing a solution, we were able to create our Women in Medicine work group. We call it VWIM: Vituity Women in Medicine.
My recommendation, honestly, is if there's something that you're passionate about, to find those areas and maybe identify some gaps within wherever you're gonna be working and help to propose some solutions.
Because honestly, we can change how we're practicing, and we can change the future of our healthcare practices.
The time is now. It's our turn. Let's go do it.
First published at Vituity.com on August 23, 2018. Last updated July 9, 2019.