March 8, 2015 is International Women’s Day. The theme is “Make It Happen.” The women I have had the pleasure to know have always made it happen. I want to highlight my many female physician colleagues. They are from every medical specialty. We all went to very different medical schools but our paths were similar. They are in leadership positions or just stepping down and entering into a new career phase. They are finally enjoying grandchildren, caring for aged parents or just taking the time to enjoy life. It is hard to believe I have known them all for over 25 years. Over this year, I will profile some of these remarkable female physicians,
They have been role models for a generation of women. Dr. M, a pediatrician, who I have known since I was a resident, is now caring for the children and even grandchildren of many of her patients in a practice that is still in her home. Her place in the community has allowed her to be a physician, mother, friend, and teacher.
Dr. P, I met when I was rotating at the now closed children’s hospital. It was an inner city hospital that was on the forefront in the care of children life-threatening illnesses and the pediatric AIDS epidemic. She is an Adolescent Medicine Specialist and book author. The Adolescent Clinic provided primary care for teens specializing in AIDS care. She was a successful grant writer and many times was juggling multiple budgets successfully and writing research papers to keep the funding stream coming.
Dr. D was the first person to make sure I was welcomed when I joined my residency. She also stood up for me. She is the smartest person I know. She went back to medical school at age 40. Her father was the first African-American physician allowed on staff at the hospital where we were training. He was so proud the day she joined his practice. It was a solo –practice in the home she grew up in. She still has a practice there. I have such pride in her resiliency.
Another colleague, Dr. C, from our residency just sold her practice to a large group. Her practice was the first practice owned by an African-American female acquired by this large group. Her goal was to have a successful practice and she wanted to integrate other like practices but many doctors did not share her vision. She has a holistic approach to patient care. She did not give up but held onto her goal when she was working long hours. Now her practice is expanding and not dying from the inability to recruit new physicians. She is planning to get an MBA and continue to be a force of change.
The first few days of medical school would have been overwhelming but I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. V. She has been my friend for over 30 years. She is a dynamic person and an excellent physician. She has a holistic approach to care and is fearless. She is now in transition by still fearless. I am in awe of her courage to take a new direction in medical care.
So many of the women physicians I know are caring physicians, mothers, and wives; make significant contributions to the medical field and their communities. We run and walk miles for all causes from breast cancer to heart disease. We lecture in the community at schools and churches and spend hours volunteering for our professional and social organizations.
One of my male colleagues once said “the best thing that happened to medicine was when we made it easier for women to join the profession.” Woman all over the world are making a difference and many at the risk of their lives. I am inspired by each one of them and honor their courage, persistence and dedication.