I am honored and humbled to be the third WIMHS Mentee at UC Davis. This is such a unique and valuable opportunity–when I tell others in or out of academia about it, they are amazed at the chance that I have to be mentored and work on a project related to the advancement and benefit of women in academic medicine. I have a team of mentors of women from across the health system–a cross-disciplinary group whose purpose is to foster my projects and assist in my growth and development as a leader. It’s a gratifying experience to be recognized for the work that I’ve done so far in my career and the potential that I have for future endeavors. One of the most exciting aspects of being the WIMHS Mentee is the chance to work on a product that I expect to benefit women throughout UC Davis Health.
My 18 month experience as the WIMHS Mentee will focus on working with departments in our schools of health at UCD to explore the need and opportunity to develop programs based on the work of WIMHS and what we have done in the Psychiatry Department’s Society for Women in Academic Psychiatry (SWAP). My WIMHS project aims to implement similar endeavors at the school wide level. SWAP started in 2005 by Andreea Seritan and Robinder Banghoo, two psychiatrists in the department who felt that a women’s faculty development group would be helpful in supporting the women of the department as well as addressing curricular issues related to gender in patient care for trainees. In 2010, Tara Niendam (a psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry) and I took over as co-chairs of SWAP. Given the differential needs and issues of psychologists/researchers vs. physicians/clinicians in our department, Tara and I bring different skill sets to SWAP leadership that have made our partnership very successful. To our knowledge, there are no other women faculty development groups in any department.
My WIMHS Institutional Action Project is to engage interested pilot departments throughout the health system/schools to assess needs, resources, and aims of the different groups so that we can institute department-level and systemic changes that will improve the climate for women and all faculty at UCD schools of health. I will be working with the department chairs and/or their selected liaisons to develop strategies that will enhance the recruitment, retention, and development of leadership and scholarship of women faculty, individualized to the needs of the specific department. For example, in psychiatry, we found that providing individualized mentorship and education about academic careers was crucial in the recruitment of women from our residency and MSP track.
I appreciate the support of WIMHS, the schools of medicine and nursing, and the health system in this endeavor! I welcome any suggestions that anyone has for my project and invite you to email me with your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org.