Celebrating the Future of Health Care and the Role Women Will Play-Emily D. Dunson

Celebrating the future of health care and the role

women will play

Girls Can!

EMILY D DUNSON • October 3, 2019

UF Health is letting girls know that they can. More women are pursuing careers in medicine and empowerment starts at a young age.

In August, Women in Medicine and Science, or WIMS, hosted 70 young women from Girls Place Inc. and PACE Center for Girls Alachua County. This eld trip empowered both the middle and high school girls and the physicians, residents and medical students that joined together to celebrate the future of health care and the role women will play.

Stacy Beal, M.D., a UF Health pathologist and advisory board vice president for Women in Medicine and Science approached her peers with the idea and the responses were overwhelming.

“Young women need opportunities to interact with physicians, residents and medical students to open their worlds to possibilities they may never know about. They see that they, too, could follow in this path,” Beal said. “We wanted to show them that doctors and scientists are real people with real lives and families. Yes, we work hard and our jobs can be stressful, but there is so much joy to be had in taking care of others.”

Ellen Zimmermann, M.D., UF College of Medicine associate dean for faculty development and vice chair for academic affairs, says that along with other women in WIMS, she recognizes a need in medicine and this rst eld trip has the potential of addressing that need.

“They were engaged from the first minute, and the energy they brought was amazing,” Zimmermann said. “The con dence … these young women were not intimidated in any way. They were into everything that we did.”

During the day of events, Zimmermann also moderated a panel of nine female physicians that included

Jennifer Hagen, M.D., Kayser Enneking, M.D., Alice Rhoton-Vlasak, M.D., Mariam Rahmani, M.D.,

Deepa Danan, M.D., Caroline Srihari, M.D., Michele Lossius, M.D., Paramita Chakrabarty, Ph.D., and Crystal Johnson-Mann, M.D. Girls asked hard questions about the challenges, joys, and interests of each panelists in their careers.

“These girls were nonstop in their questions and they didn’t just ask about experience,” Zimmermann said. “They asked about the things that concern them too, like cancer, different infections and diseases.”

After watching the girls’ fascination while interacting with ultrasound technology, tours of hospital units and forensic maggots, Zimmermann felt con dence in the strength of the future generation of women to become discoverers and innovators.

“It was empowering to

see these young women engage and be enthusiastic in a setting that could have been potentially intimidating,” she said.

As a woman in leadership at UF Health, Zimmermann said the advice she would give to young girls pursuing medicine is to invest in people at all levels — in the faculty, community, patients, students, and staff.

“You have to care about people,” Zimmerman added.

And that’s what this day was all about.