Q&A: Women in Medicine Summit offers opportunities to network, cultivate change
This year’s Women in Medicine Summit will be held virtually on Sept. 24 to Sept. 25. The conference identifies barriers that women in medicine face and offers solutions to gender inequity.
Summit attendees will hear from a diverse group of speakers about disparities in compensation, promotion and other career advancement opportunities. The talks will explore the use of social media, financial health for women, tools for career advancement, how to change the culture within institutions, combat racism and online harassment, and much more. Attendees will also have opportunities to network and develop productive professional relationships.
The summit is planned and held by a steering committee of women from major academic institutions in Chicago and leaders from national organizations.
Shikha Jain, MD, FACP, is chair and founder of the summit and president of the nonprofit Women in Medicine. We asked Jain, who is also the host of Healio's Oncology Overdrive podcast, about her goals for the meeting and what attendees can expect to take away from it.
Healio Primary Care: What are your goals for this year’s Women in Medicine Summit?
Jain: This has been a very tough year for everyone. Our hope is that this year’s meeting provides a place for women and male allies to come together and remember why they love the field that they went into, help form some new communities and new networks, and empower the people attending to work towards changing the health care system and emerging from this pandemic with new strategies and solutions as opposed to going back to the status quo. I think that in this moment in time, there is the possibility for having a turning point in our health care system and in how our health care workers are treated. We think that this is a perfect opportunity to strive towards change and achieve a more equitable health care system. I hope that people leave the summit empowered and with tools and skills that will allow them to take the information they gain back to their home institutions and make a difference.
Healio Primary Care: What feedback did you receive from people who attended last year’s summit?
Jain: I received such great feedback after last year’s conference. With it being virtual, we weren’t sure how the summit was going to go. It was my first time running a virtual conference, so we learned as we went along, with the hopes of adding in some innovative programming to keep people engaged. Both during and after the conference, we received such fantastic feedback. People felt that it was exactly what they needed at that moment in time. I actually talked to some people who utilized the skills that they learned to advocate for themselves for new positions and higher salaries. I have seen a lot of new equity initiatives that were launched after last year, and I have been told that many of them were born out of collaborations that were formed at the summit. I had a lot of people who left feeling inspired and excited for how not only they could get involved, but how they could really make a difference in the future.
Healio Primary Care: What can attendees expect to take away this year?
Jain: This year’s theme, along with our annual focus on the evolution of empowerment, is about finding your voice and the power of our collective voices. Our speakers this year are incredible. Some of our speakers have spoken at the summit before, like Kimberly Manning, MD, Vineet Arora, MD, MAPP, and Nisha Mehta, MD.
We also have some new faces. Alice Chen, MD, a national leader in physician advocacy and equity in health care, will be speaking on advocacy efforts. Lucy Kalanithi, MD, will be doing a fireside chat with Dr. Arora that I am really looking forward to. Brandi Jackson, MD, and Brittani James, MD, cofounders of The Institute for Antiracism in Medicine, are giving a keynote address, and Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, the executive vice president and CEO of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, is speaking on “Leading in a Crisis.” And Ngozi Ezike MD, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, will also be speaking this year. So, there is a lot of new programming coming out this year. We also are going to be launching a very exciting new initiative that people who attend the summit are going to have first access to at a discounted price. So, not only is there going to be great educational content, but there are also going to be perks for joining the summit and special initiatives that you will be able to join at the ground level.
Healio Primary Care: What are you looking forward to most?
Jain: I don’t have the words to describe how inspired I feel leading sessions and listening to the speakers each year. I am also really excited because this year we again have a large cohort of medical student volunteers. Seeing the breadth of trainees to senior faculty having different experiences and gaining different opportunities and insights from this conference, it really excites me to see these connections being made. I have seen students, trainees, junior faculty and senior faculty get speaking opportunities after engaging at the summit. I have seen research projects come from the summit. I have seen friendships grow and blossom at the summit. So, we really have a lot of exciting opportunities for people to engage and network, even though we are in the virtual space. I am just really looking forward to seeing how people take that opportunity to elevate themselves and elevate others. We also have partnered with organizations that will, again, be providing perks and free resources that are only eligible for people at the summit, so I’m excited to launch those as well.
Healio Primary Care: Anything else to add?
Jain: We just launched our compendium, which is free to anyone. It contains content from many of the speakers: www.diversityinresearch.careers/article/women-in-medicine-compendium-21/.
*Editor’s note: For more information about the summit or to register, go to www.womeninmedicinesummit.org .