As I reflect on the three years I’ve been in the role of chair for the Program for Women in Internal Medicine (PWIM), one word immediately comes to mind: advocacy. I am not a stranger to the world of advocacy. I started my career as an educator with a focus on evidence-based medicine – in short, advocating for scientific truth. I moved on to building a direct legislative advocacy experience for residents which is now expanding to our fellows, thanks to the partnership and commitment of Dr. Caroline Sloan. As a mentor, I advocate for faculty in their careers. Finally, after taking on this PWIM role in 2020 and working through the fits and starts of engaging community during a pandemic, I sought help from the women in this department to better understand what they needed, and the answer was clear: advocacy.
Women faculty in the Department of Medicine have worked hard to get to where they are.
Women often have to be better and tougher than the men with whom they train and practice
in order to be viewed on the same footing. Women are sometimes hired at lower salaries than
men across the field of medicine. Perhaps those in hiring roles suspect that the duties we take
on in our personal lives, or the children people expect we will have, will lower our productivity.
However, I suspect the opposite is true – that women work even harder BECAUSE we have
other duties at home or decide to bear children. We don’t take this lightly. We are doing the
work in both places and doing it well. Data from both outpatient and inpatient clinical
environments suggest that women clinicians deliver slightly higher quality of care than their
male counterparts, in terms of time spent on visits and comprehensiveness of care as well as
hospital readmissions (Ganguli et al. N Engl J Med 2020;383:1349 and Tsugawa et al. JAMA
Intern Med 2017:177(2):206).
Our Department of Medicine leadership team knows this. I have seen a steadfast commitment
to equity in every space I’ve been privileged to join with this team. Julius Wilder, MD, PhD,
chair, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism (DEIAR) Committee, is assembling a team to
perform rigorous equity review, one division at a time. I’m certain that if we uncover inequities
in compensation or resources in this process, we will correct them.
The women of this department are sisters, daughters, partners, mothers or grandmothers. And,
here at work we are doctors, scientists, educators and leaders. I ask that the choices we make
in our personal lives not impact how we are viewed in the work setting. We are tough, we know
what it takes, and we are here for it – all of it!
I’d also like to encourage our male counterparts to join us and let your voice be heard as we
continue to advocate and foster an equitable and inclusive DOM community.
Daniella Zipkin, MD
Professor of Medicine, General Internal Medicine
Associate Vice Chair, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Chair, Program for Women in Internal Medicine