Updated: Aug 19, 2018
Like Melissa, I grew up playing sports. Where I lived, they did not have girls basketball league (it was actually called Dwarf-Giraffe Boys League). Therefore, I grew up playing with the boys. I played in the boys league; I played in the city parks against boys. I learned to jump higher, run faster, and out hustle everyone else. I frequently fouled out of basketball games because I was "too aggressive." At that point, I, along with my very supportive dad, began advocating for a girls division in our league. A year later, we had started the Girls Basketball division. It started with 4 teams and a 9 game season, now there are 5 divisions and countless games every season.
This is where my advocacy for women started, but certainly not where it ended.
During college, I studied Sociology. Specifically, I studied sex and gender, women and society, and the sociology of medicine. I wrote papers on gender in medicine, the LGBTQ population and medicine, and how patient-provider interactions affect health comes. During one of my courses we read "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh, which has helped shape how I approach the world.
My Invisible Knapsack includes my race, my health, my education, my hometown, my socioeconomic status, my sexual orientation, and countless others. I began acknowledging my own privilege and coming up with ways I could use my privilege to help amplify and provide opportunities to others.
In Medical School, I was a founding member of our LGBT organization, as an ally. Starting in my second year of medical school, I have gone out of my way to mentor women and underrepresented minorities in medicine. I entered residency in a class of 3 women and 12 men (yes, that’s 1/5 women). I knew I had to address this inequality. Along with my former Chief Resident, current Assistant Residency Director, and most importantly best friend, Melissa Parsons, we created a Women in Emergency Medicine group at our residency program.
To continue my passion for equality in medicine, I began becoming involved nationally. I joined AWAEM (Academy of Women in Academic Emergency Medicine), an academy under SAEM aimed specifically towards women in academic Emergency Medicine. I recorded a podcast with FemInEM an organization that does an excellent job discussing issues faced by women in Emergency Medicine specifically, and medicine broadly.
While those organizations have accomplished so many amazing things, I wanted more. Many of the current voices in the #WomenInMedicine movement are from attending physicians. As a resident (and medical students), I often felt like I was left out of the conversation. Additionally, very often the conversations focus on marriage, family planning, balancing work commitments with children, infertility, etc. These discussions, while vital to many women in medicine, frequently leave out others who do not intend to have children in the near future, if ever.
In early 2018, Melissa and I began independently blogging about our experiences in medicine. Using social media, we were able to share our own blogs and amplify one another. A few months later, were lucky enough to have some fantastic female mentors/sponsors who suggested we could reach further with our blogs if we combined our forces and allowed others to contribute. Melissa and I had countless phone conversations (as we were living across the country at that time) where we developed the idea for "sheMD", a platform designed to create a community where we discuss, discover, and delve into the adventure of women on the road to MD (or DO).
To me, sheMD is the perfect platform to help use my privilege as a medical educator and recent resident to improve medical training for women and all other under represented groups in medicine. As a true lover of medical education, I believe the goals of sheMD are vital to the success of the future generations of women in medicine.
I hope that we at sheMD are able to create a community of mentorship, sponsorship, support, and most importantly, love within medicine.