Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Balancing Elder and Family Care and a Faculty Career

Posted on January 28th, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Balancing Elder and Family Care and a Faculty Career

Mother and daughterDid you know that 86% of women over age 50 think that they may need to use family-friendly policies?  Are you one of these women?  While many family friendly policies are used by young women for child-bearing or child-rearing, there is a growing need to provide support for family care responsibilities involving the other end of the lifespan – our aging parents.  A recent NIH-funded study of UCDHS faculty UC Davis study led by your colleagues Amparo Villablanca and Lydia Howell has found that 43% of UCDMC faculty members report family care responsibilities that are not related to child care.

“My daughters are grown, but my need to provide care to my family continues,” says Lydia Howell.  “My father is very disabled with Parkinson disease and dementia, and my mother is the primary caregiver.  I’m not nearby to help, so I fly to visit them almost once a month.   The more I talk to my faculty colleagues, I realize that there are many like me – trying to balance career obligations and find time to support loved ones both near and far.  This is a national dilemma, and hardest on women since women are traditionally the caregivers in our culture.” 

WIMHS recently hosted a lunch workshop “Balancing Elder and Family Care and a Faculty Career: Work-Life Integration is Not Just About Childcare” in order to explore these unique issues and to provide an opportunity to develop support systems among faculty colleagues.  The panel discussion facilitated by Amparo Villablanca, M.D. included several faculty members who shared their experiences and insights from caring for aging parents.

Esther Lara, who serves as a Clinical Social Worker and Research Administrator at the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, was also on the panel.  She provided the following specific suggestions for individuals caring for their parents:

  • Address legal issues (power of attorney, advance care directives etc.) with your family members ahead of time.  The ARAG legal insurance offered to UC employees can often be helpful in these efforts.
  • Develop a support system.  In addition to siblings, friends and family, there are many other resources available.  See the links below to locate certified senior care advisors, in-home health and companion care, or simply help with housekeeping and other domestic duties.
  • Take care of yourself too.  Make time to continue the activities that you enjoy, so that you can balance care for your parents with your own needs.

As one attendee put it, “there seem to be as many solutions as there are problems”, but the spirited and honest discussion made it clear that the attendees appreciated the opportunity to connect and share with others experiencing similar dilemmas.   The group wants to meet again, and WIMHS will be working with Faculty Development to create quarterly workshops and faculty support groups to address specific elder care related issues.

What do you think — are you experiencing work-life challenges related to elder care?  Do you have advice to share, questions to pose, or ideas for future workshops or meetings?  Post a comment below to help us shape our activities on this important topic…


Select Plus (formerly Sittercity) – The cost of membership is paid by the University of California and is completely free to you. You pay only for the services of the caregivers your hire. Activate your membership:


Eldercare Locater – A public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging connecting you to services for older adults and their families:


National Institute on Aging – Provides a wide variety of research-based information and resources related to health and aging:


National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers-Can make home visit suggest needed services and help get the services:


You can find more information about what is covered by Medicare Part A, B, and D:


Medicaid, also known as Medi-Cal in California, is a combined Federal and State program for low-income people and families.  Medical will pay the cost of some types of long-term care for some people and their families. You must meet certain financial requirements.


The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may provide long-term care for some veterans.  Services could have a waiting list for VA nursing homes.  The VA also provides some at-home care:


For information on older drivers, how to start a conversation and how to analyze an driver safety:





Make WIMHS and Mentorship a Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions!

Posted on January 2nd, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Make WIMHS and Mentorship a Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions!


Guest Blog by Dr. Lydia Pleotis Howell

The new year is approaching – always a time to reflect on the past and make a resolution for the year to come.  This year, in addition to the usual resolutions about exercise, flossing more, and calling your mother, how about a resolution about mentorship?

Mentorship may not sound like an exciting or unusual resolution — we hear about its importance so often, maybe its becoming a bit ho-hum.  Just in the past two years, for example, Academic Medicine has published articles on “Characteristics of Successful and Failed Mentoring Relationships”, “Policies, Activities, and Structures Supporting Research Mentoring”,“Difficult Issues in Mentoring”, “The Junior Faculty Laboratory: An Innovative Model of Peer Mentoring”.  The faculty professional development programs offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges include sessions on mentoring, and likewise, many specialty societies include mentoring programs in their meetings, too.  Our school has recently started a mentoring academy to help mentors develop better skills and to better link junior faculty to senior mentors.   So it seems like the mentorship-thing might be well-covered – why make it a resolution??

Despite all this press, I’m still struck by what a hunger there is for mentorship.  In early December, I attended the mentorship evening sponsored by our student AMWA chapter and our WIMS group.  The students arranged roundtable discussions with women faculty on a variety of topics pertinent to their careers.   Each table had a topic like “Why did you choose a career in academic medicine?” or “How do you balance your work and family life”.   A few faculty members were assigned to be discussion leaders at each table, and the students rotated among the tables, speed-dating style.  The evening was a big success – lots of students and faculty attended, and the room was bright and buzzing with conversation.  Afterward, the women students all commented on how inspired they were after meeting and talking with the women faculty.   The faculty really enjoyed the event, too.  They enjoyed sharing their experiences, and several even commented that they had wished that they could have rotated among the roundtables, like the students did, and met more or their faculty colleagues and heard what they had to say about the challenges of being in academic medicine.

One aspect that surprised me was how many of the women students commented that the event made them feel more confident that “we can do this” (i.e, have a career in medicine) – I didn’t appreciate that there were such significant worries that they couldn’t.  Maybe I have just forgotten my own student days or maybe our career path has just gotten so much harder and complex.   This reminded me of the importance of serving as role models so that the younger generation can have a chance to see themselves in what we do.  But I wasn’t surprised to see how renewed and energized our faculty were by these brief encounters.  We have all chosen to pursue careers in academia because we particularly enjoy the role of teacher and mentor  – this is why we work at UCDMC, rather than elsewhere in Sacramento.   But we can get so busy with the important work of patient care, and with the requirements and details associated with modern practice, like compliance and regulatory issues, and the challenges associated with building research programs in a tough funding environment, and all the other details associated with what we do, that we can sometimes forget how rewarding and inspiring it is to share our knowledge and experiences with learners or other faculty, even in simple ways like a roundtable discussion.  Its worth renewing your commitment to take  time for these interactions.

In January, WIMS has two excellent opportunities for you to begin to fulfill a new year’s resolution on mentorship, in addition to gaining some personal benefit, too.    On January 7 at 5 pm in Educ. Bldg 1222, WIMS is once again partnering with AMWA to bring faculty and students together.  This event will be a panel discussion on “Inspiring Paths to Leadership in Medicine” .  Several women physician leaders will share their stories about their road to career success which is sure to have meaningful insights for students as well as faculty at all career stages.  Later that week on January 9 at noon in Education Bldg, Rm 2206, WIMS and Faculty Development are co-hosting a panel discussion on “Balancing Elder and Family Care and a Faculty Career:  Work-Life Integration is Not Just About Childcare.”   Elder care is a growing responsibility for faculty, and presents unique work-life challenges, especially for women who provide the majority of elder care-giving nationally.  Faculty panelists will share their experiences, and so can you – we can all learn from each other, and provide ideas on how our UC Davis Health System can better support faculty so that we can all meet better meet our work as well as our family responsibilities.   And of course, food and conversation is part of each of these events, too – always a good excuse to get together with your colleagues , get to know each better, share experiences, and gain ideas.   Start your new year right — we look forward to seeing you!

Lydia Pleotis Howell MD  – UCDHS representative to the AAMC’s Group on Women in Medicine & Science

November WIMHS Events

Posted on November 28th, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on November WIMHS Events

In case you missed it… In November WIMHS sponsored a panel discussion on “The Nuts and Bolts of Academic Careers for Women Faculty”. Participants included Drs. Lydia Howell, Diana Farmer, Martha O’Donnell & Jill Joseph (left to right).

Dr. Lydia Howell provided an overview of the 5 academic series (Ladder-Rank, In-Residence, Adjunct, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical) currently used by the UC Davis School of Medicine and advised the participants to “align yourself with the track that best fits your interests and needs”.  Here are some links if you want to learn more about your series or compare definitions of academic series:

Advice from the panelists focused on identifying opportunities to accelerate your accomplishments, being an advocate for yourself, making sure that others understand what you contribute and developing a team of mentors to provide honest feedback.

WIMHS events provide an opportunity to connect with potential mentors and to learn more about the accomplishments of UCD scientists and physician researchers.  Check out the links below to learn more about the panel and their roles as a fetal and neonatal surgeon, ischemic stroke researcher and pediatric health disparities advocate. I am continuously impressed by our female faculty members here at UC Davis School of Medicine!

Upcoming events… WIMHS will be offering workshops on work/life balance – please pass this information along to any colleagues that may benefit from the following.  You can register online at:

  • Working Dads Need Career Flexibility Too:  How To Integrate Work, Life and Family Thursday, November 29th 12:00 – 1:00 PM – Education Building, Room 2205 (4610 X Street, Sacramento)
  • Balancing Elder and Family Care and a Faculty Career: Work-Life Integration is Not Just About Childcare Wednesday, January 9, 2013 – 12:00 – 2:00 pm – Education Building, Room TBD (4610 X Street, Sacramento)

October WIMHS Events

Posted on November 9th, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on October WIMHS Events

In case you missed it…  In October WIMHS co-sponsored a three hour interactive “Speaking for Success” workshop presented by Susan Miller, PhD (left) and Julie Barkmeier-Kramer, PhD, UC Davis Dept of ENT (right).  Dr. Miller has over 26 years of experience improving public speaking skills for her clients, including techniques for effective communication, vocal power, vocal health, refining an accent, presenting your best self, assertiveness for women, and challenges in the workplace.  If you want to learn more – here’s a link to Dr. Miller’s company web site:

Dr. Miller also recommended the new book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.  I’m reading it now, and highly recommend it for both introverts and extroverts!  Check out the Ted Talk by author Susan Cain on the link below… it is only 20 minutes long and perfect for a lunch break:

What’s coming up… In November WIMHS is sponsoring a career development panel “The Nuts and Bolts of Academic Careers for Women Faculty”.  Come and join us for lunch, while we discuss key strategies for managing busy academic careers, getting things done, learning the rules, and more.

Date: November 14th, 2012, 12:00-1:00 pm in PathologyBuilding, Room 1002

Please RSVP to this event at:

Let us know if there are other topics you would like to see covered at upcoming WIMHS events.  Login and leave a comment on the blog or email us directly – we look forward to hearing from you! 

– Melissa


Communication Skills

Posted on October 15th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Anyone who watched the first presidential debate last week quickly realized what a difference effective communication skills can make!  We have all been there…  a presentation that didn’t go well, an interaction with a colleague where you felt you simply were not being heard, an interview where you struggled to explain your research in accessible language.  Often times HOW we communicate is just as important as the content of our message. 

With the years of training that go into our MD and PhD programs, it is surprising that we receive so little formal training on communication strategies.  Yet effective communication is an essential part of a career in academic medicine where we are expected to present at conferences, train students and residents, interact with donors and collaborate with colleagues from diverse areas of expertise.  As described on the AAMC Leadership Lesson –  Train a Powerful Voice:

 “One of the most powerful leadership tools you can have is effective communication skills. The most powerful communications connect with personal experience and deliver new information to change thinking and behavior.  The most powerful communications engage voice, body language and content. Which is the most important component in getting your message across?—Not content! Studies in media messaging show that body language contributes to over 50% of the message, voice tone to a little under 40%, and content of the message is attributed to less than 10% of what listeners remember about a presentation. Does that mean we should disregard the content?—Absolutely not! Our academic credibility relies on expert content. But if we want to get our messages across as leaders, we had better pay attention to the total package.”

The good news is that communication skills are something that can be acquired.  WIMHS and The Office of Student and Resident Diversity will be offering a workshop to improve communication skills on October 22nd.

Speaking for Success Workshop – Monday, October 22nd, 9:00am-noon (Marriott Camellia Room)

Presented by:  Susan Miller, PhD & Julie Barkmeier-Kraemer, PhD

Register online by October 16th at:

By the end of training, participants will be able to:           

  • Immediately gain their listener’s trust through honest, engaging body language.
  • Project their voices easily so that they are easily heard by audiences.
  • Alter pausing, inflection, emphasis, pitch, vocal intensity, and phrasing so that they can inspire, motivate, educate and persuade their listeners. 
  • Speak clearly and distinctly so that they are readily understood by listeners.
  • Present effective meaningful messages to individuals and groups.
  • Remain focused and relaxed when interruptions and errors occur. 

Who wouldn’t benefit from improving communication skills?  Please join us on the 22nd  or share some of your own tips for improving communication skills by posting comments below.

Welcome to the WIMHS blog!

Posted on October 1st, 2012 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Who are we? The UC Davis School of Medicine Women in Medicine and Health Sciences (WIMHS) was started 10 years ago and is co-directed by Drs. Amparo Villablanca and Lydia Howell, our School’s representatives to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS). WIMHS partners with the medical student group with a similar mission, the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), and our School’s Office of Diversity, Faculty Development, and Academic Affairs. Dr. Melissa Bauman is the 2012-2013 faculty mentee for the WIMHS Mentored Leadership position. We each bring diverse training, perspectives and life experiences to the discussion and encourage you to contact us directly if you have suggestions for topics you would like to see covered.

What’s new? All too often our days are filled with meetings, clinic duties, grant writing etc., leaving little time to interact with our colleagues. One of the goals of this blog is to strengthen the community of female faculty members by highlighting WIMHS events and providing a venue for open discussion of topics related to women’s careers in academic medicine. To kick off each year, we host a Fall Welcome event for new women faculty with other members of the WIMHS community and the school of medicine leadership. We met last night at Il Fornaio in Sacramento to welcome new faculty members (some had not even had their first official day at UC Davis!) and catch up with colleagues from other departments. WIMHS Co-Director, Lydia Howell, highlighted upcoming WIMHS events and our outreach efforts including an active Facebook page (see sidebar links). Dean Pomeroy reflected on the changes she has seen during her time at the UC Davis Health System, and encouraged the participants (and anyone reading the blog!) to provide feedback on the role WIMHS can play in supporting women’s careers here at UCD.

“WIMHS provides our female faculty and everyone else an opportunity to surface ideas and make the faculty experience better for all.” – Dean Pomeroy

If you were there, tell us: Did you meet someone that you didn’t know? What impressed you most about the other women there? What interesting topics did you discuss? And anything else you’d like to share! We were impressed by the talent of the women that attended and the camaraderie. What an awesome group!  Post your comments at the bottom of the page…