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Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine #InvestInHer

#InvestInHer logo

What is the #InvestInHer campaign?

The #InvestInHer campaign is a call to action for hospitals, health care institutions, government agencies, foundations, professional societies and health-related companies to financially invest in:

  • Recruiting women in medicine at all levels, especially promoting them to the highest leadership positions
  • Retaining women in health care and providing them with the resources they need to succeed at work and in their personal lives
  • Re-entry support for women who have left medicine due to rearing children, caring for aging parents, burnout or other reasons

Every year, the course Career Advancement and Leadership Skills for Women in Healthcare launches a new strategic initiative aimed at supporting women in health care. Once again, ELAM and the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) are partnering in this campaign.

Read more about the #InvestInHer campaign

Why is this campaign important now?

Women make up the majority of the health care workforce in the United States and many other countries. This means that the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease as well as the care of patients largely falls on the shoulders of women. Women also comprise a large proportion of researchers; thus, the advancement of science is dependent upon them.

Despite society’s reliance on the intellect, care and compassion of women in medicine, they are often not valued, respected or treated equally with men. The #InvestInHer campaign aims to highlight the urgent need to value women in medicine, which will have a net positive effect on the health of all.

Why Is This Support Needed Urgently?

The past few years have created a syndemic that is disproportionately affecting women in medicine, causing some to reduce their work hours or leave health care altogether. A syndemic occurs when two or more health-related issues — such as the COVID-19 pandemic, racial inequities and the opioid crisis — collectively create a situation that has a more profound negative impact than any one issue would alone. These factors, together with a global increase in mental health symptoms and deterioration of many people’s physical health from their baseline, have put an unprecedented strain on healthcare workers.

The “Great Resignation” has exacerbated current and future shortages of physicians, nurses, staff and other workers who are needed to power this large industry. Women in medicine face many documented challenges including, but not limited to, inequitable pay and promotion and insufficient resources dedicated to mentoring and sponsorship. Importantly, women who identify with racial or ethnic minority groups or as LGBTQ, and those have a disability, often face greater barriers as they navigate their careers.

These findings are deeply troubling. And yet, women in medicine can be a key part of the solution. Urgent strategic investments are needed to recruit women into medicine at the beginning of the pipeline and to promote them to top leadership positions. It is essential to retain women in medicine throughout their careers by valuing their work and ensuring equitable policies. For those who have left clinical medicine and are inclined to return, there is a need to expeditiously expand pathways, training, and other support to help them re-enter.

ELAM is a core program of the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa. The Institute continues the legacy of advancing women in medicine that began in 1850 with the founding of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the nation's first women's medical school and a predecessor of today's Drexel University College of Medicine.