How a program to support women in medicine performed

A report offers insight into how the Women’s Wellness through Equity and Leadership program performed during its pilot phase.

Although the number of women becoming physicians continues to grow, women in the medical field still face disparities in leadership positions, compensation, and advancement as well as discrimination, gender-based harassment. In an attempt to improve the environment for women, 6 organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics created the Women’s Wellness through Equity and Leadership program. The results of the pilot implementation of the program were recently published.1

The pilot group a diverse group of 18 female physicians who were either early or midcareer from a variety of medical specialties. Each participant was enrolled in an 18-month program that included 3 tracks: wellness, equity, and leadership. Sessions were held either in-person or virtually. Topics covered included gender-based differences in burnout and wellness; common workplace inequities; finding your voice; understanding leadership disparities for women in medicine; and organizational strategic planning. Participants filled out evaluations of the program to identify strengths and areas of improvement.

Some of the strengths included appreciation for the deliberate diversity of the pilot group, inclusion of different specialties that allowed for interdisciplinary relationship development; and the integration of all 3 topics in ways that showed how they all connected. Potential areas to improve the program included connecting participants to speakers more and encouraging check-in group that would promoted connection outside of the program. One of the most noted rooms for improvement was creating a structured mentorship program. Many of the participants went into the program anticipating a more formal program and found either informal opportunities and some found none at all.

As a result of the program, participants reported proposing a new position in their organization to advance equitable care, examining gender balance in residency and fellowship programs, and becoming advocates for women who are struggling with issues of inequality.

The investigators of the pilot program concluded that the initiative provided female physicians a chance to connect with others and provide a potential support structure. Furthermore, it offered an excellent opportunity to increase knowledge and skills to promote wellness, equity, and leadership.

Reference

1. Kelly EH, Miskimen T, Rivera F, Peterson LE, Hingle ST. Women’s wellness through equity and leadership (WEL): a program evaluation. Pediatrics. 2021;148(Supplement 2). doi:10.1542/peds.2021-051440i