Female Medical Students Learn, Network through American Medical Women’s Association

Posted in GUMC Stories

MARCH 31, 2014 — About 60 women medical students from Georgetown’s School of Medicine joined 400 students, physicians and other health professionals at the American Medical Women’s Association (new window) (AMWA) annual conference in Washington this month.

The meeting was presided over by AMWA President Eleni Tousimis, MD (new window), director of the Ourisman Breast Center at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (new window), chief of breast surgery and director of the breast surgery fellowship at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (new window).

The School of Medicine, a sponsor of the March 13-16 meeting, covered registration fees for the Georgetown students to support their professional development.

Founded in 1915, AMWA is the largest and oldest multispecialty organization of female physicians in the country. The organization helps promote medical students and physicians in their careers, providing mentorship and education about women’s health topics, according to Tousimis.

She says she was proud to welcome the Georgetown student to the conference, which was led by 24 internationally renowned experts in a wide variety of topics who are also role models in their careers.

“As president of AMWA, my goals were to expose both medical students and physicians to all that this organization offers, including continued advancement of women’s health topics, gender equality in both the work place as well as in research and mentorship,” Tousimis says. “I have been very grateful to Georgetown for the opportunities it has provided me, and am now thrilled that so many young women were able to take advantage of AMWA’s annual meeting thanks to Georgetown’s generosity.”

Importance of Role Models

Georgetown School of Medicine Dean Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, MBA (new window), who made the decision to fund the students’ registration, says he did not hesitate for a second to support what he views as “an important opportunity” for future women physicians to see the full scope of possibilities for their careers.

“In academic medical centers, there is still somewhat of a glass ceiling for a variety of reasons. AMWA is one of those organizations that allows young women to get involved in medicine on a broad scale, to form a network and to observe their role models who are in key leadership positions,” he says. “Eleni is a terrific role model and leader in academic medicine.”

Mary Leemputte (M’16), president of the AMWA chapter on campus, says the opportunity to attend the conference allowed her to see “how medical schools across the country have promoted the professional development of their female students.”

The national organization sets students up with mentors and helps connect them with people with similar interests and career goals, Leemputte says. She also appreciates that the conference allows students from across the country to take leadership roles in planning, execution and presentation of research.

“I have benefitted a lot from physician mentors and hope, in the future, to play the same role for those after me. This is a fun opportunity to learn the practicalities of bringing students, residents and physicians together,” she says.

High Caliber of Content

According to Mitchell, with females comprising more than half of the graduating medical class, it is essential to take every step to facilitate their professional development.

Along with Tousimis’ involvement, he cited the high caliber of content at the meeting as a reason he felt it was important to support this year’s conference. High-profile featured speakers included: Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD (new window), chair of the department of pathology at Georgetown; Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy; and Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, who stressed the importance of wellness and balance in achieving success.

The four-day conference included an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, along with a medical advocacy training session hosted by Rep. Eric Paulsen (R-Minn.). It culminated with a black tie gala, including some 150 medical students, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts to honor Huffington’s contribution to women’s health education. 

By Lauren Wolkoff
GUMC Communications