Q&A with Susan Gurley on the ALICE Program and Program for Women in Internal Medicine

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Susan Gurley, MD, PhD, leads the Department of Medicine's Program for Women in Internal Medicine (PWIM) and has participated in faculty development programs such as the School of Medicine's LEADER program and most recently the ALICE program, which provides in-depth opportunities for leadership skill development, personal reflection and goal setting, peer-mentoring, and structured 360 feedback for mid-career women faculty in the School of Medicine.

Here, Dr. Gurley discusses how these opportunities have helped her move her career forward and what she hopes PWIM will offer women faculty in the Department of Medicine. The School of Medicine's ALICE program is accepting applications for the next class through Dec. 1, 2016. Learn more.

Q: The School of Medicine’s ALICE – Academic Leadership, Innovation and Collaborative Engagement - program is accepting applications for the next class. As someone who has participated in ALICE, why did you decide to apply for the program?  
A: It was an easy decision to apply as I have greatly benefited from other professional development programs and found myself in need of “a booster shot” for where I am currently in my career.  In 2011, I was a participant in the SoM’s LEADER course, which supports new investigators.  I have been able to build on those skills and now that I am more established, I needed coaching for this particular phase. I can't recommend these programs highly enough. Vice Dean Ann Brown's Office for Faculty Development has built an impressive set of resources for faculty.

Q: What are the highlights and benefits of ALICE?
A: There are many. The timing of this “booster” was ideal for me but the best part was the networking and friendships that I experienced.  I knew many of the participants but we really all bonded over this experience. It was a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with the six other particpants from the Department of Medicine (Cathleen Colon-Emeric, MD; Jane Gagliardi, MD; Njira Lugogo, MD; Gillian Sanders Schmidler, PhD; Heather Whitson, MD; Suzanne Woods, MD). I think our group will stay in touch and continue to support each other.  There are now 14 women on campus who feel connected in this way and share a common experience and brighter outlook for their future careers.

Q: What did you learn from ALICE and how has your participation enhanced your career?
A: Being part of ALICE really helped me to set my course on what I feel is authentic leadership for me.  Being a leader can mean many different things.  I was able to identify some strong skills as well as some areas for development. It has also given me some ideas about programming for the Program for Women in Internal Medicine (PWIM) for the future (see below).

Q: Did you set specific goals for the future? How has ALICE prepared you for them?
A: Yes and no.   I did set goals but as the year progressed, my goals shifted a bit.  This was surprising in some ways and I don’t think I could have refined my goals without this chance to stop and think about them. 

Q: You lead the Department of Medicine’s Program for Women in Internal Medicine (PWIM). What are some of the ways PWIM supports women in internal medicine?
A: PWIM is just one of the many ways our Department supports our faculty.  We sponsor a variety of programs such as Journal Clubs, Peer Mentoring Groups, Visiting Professorships, and travel support for AAMC Professional Development Seminars. 

Q: What are some upcoming programs PWIM will offer in the next year?
A: We just hosted a PWIM Journal Club to discuss an article on salary equity.  I’d like to have more Journal Club discussions of articles that pertain to issues relevant to women in medicine:  salary equity, promotion, resource allocation, work-life balance, communication, wellness. 

I’d like to mention a survey we are about to launch to assess needs and interests of women faculty in the Department – I hope everyone will respond so we can plan programs that are useful.

Q: Why is it important for an institution like Duke to offer opportunities and programs for Women in Medicine?
A: Our Department recognizes the importance of faculty diversity and professional development.  Programs like PWIM and the Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee, led by Kimberley Evans, MD, reflect the Department’s commitment to these important aspects of academic medicine and support all of us in the Department.  PWIM supports many of the needs of all faculty (house staff programs, peer mentoring are open to all) but also includes specific programming for women, who still face barriers to career success.  We want women faculty and trainees to feel supported and empowered to achieve career goals.  The more successful the women in the Department are, the more successful the Department is!

Q: Can you recommend ways for women in the Department of Medicine to get involved?
A: Yes!  Please respond to the survey and contact me with questions and ideas.

Watch a video about the ALICE program