“Praise the lives you did not choose.
They will heal you, tell your story, fight
for you. You eat the bread of their labor,
You drink the wine of their joy…
Praise our choices, sisters, for each doorway
open to us was taken by squads of fighting
women who paid years of trouble and struggle,
who paid their wombs, their sleep, their lives
that we might walk through these gates upright.”
–Marge Piercy, Circles on Water
Woman-to-Woman Medicine was inspired by the support and mentorship I have found in other woman physicians during my training, and the desire to celebrate the significance of mentee-mentor relationships among women in medicine.
THE PROJECT: The purpose of this project is to facilitate creativity, mentorship, and reflection in women medical students and physicians through narrative. We are collecting memoirs from women medical students and their female physician mentors, each exploring the theme of their respective experiences being women in medicine while highlighting the roles woman mentors have held in that journey. The final project will be to compile and potentially publish these submissions, thereby continuing to support the larger community of women in medicine through shared stories.
• To provide women medical students and physicians the opportunity to use writing to explore their path and experiences in medicine while promoting reflection and self-awareness.
• To provide medical students and physicians a platform to connect and foster mentor-mentee relationships by acknowledging the impact of others in an individual’s professional journey.
• To offer medical students and physicians the possibility of publishing their narratives.
• To create a community of support in the form of stories for women medical students and residents looking to develop relationships with mentors.
For information on submitting a piece of your own, click here: Call for Submissions
WHY? : The Need for Women Mentorship:
While the rate of women entering medical school has risen to equal or even surpass that of men, women continue to hold fewer leadership positions and are consistently paid less than their male counterparts once they leave training and enter the profession (1). In efforts to change these statistics and support medical trainee well-being, many institutions have developed mentorship models between students or residents and physicians, with positive results (2-4). Such mentorship relationships have been shown to support career and personal development, as well as overall satisfaction of the medical training process for participants (2-5). Acknowledging the issues facing women in medicine and creating a community of support can allow women students and physicians to progress in a career that statistically holds more barriers to women’s professional success when compared to their male counterparts (1).
Generations of mentors and mentees, from left to right: Dr. Molly Osborne; Dr. Elizabeth Lahti; Dr. Megan Furnari; Allison Munn, MD student.
1.Anupam B. Jena, Andrew R. Olenski, Daniel M. Blumenthal. Sex Differences in Physician Salary in US Public Medical Schools. JAMA Intern Med. 2016; 176(9): 1294-1304.
2.Files JA, Blair JE, Mayer AP, Ko MG. Facilitated peer mentorship: a pilot program for academic advancement of female medical faculty. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Jul-Aug. 17(6): 1009-15.
3.Bauman MD, Howell LP, Villablanca AC. The Women in Medicine and Health Science program: an innovative initiative to support female faculty at the University of California Davis School of Medicine. Acad Med. 2014 Nov. 89(11): 1462-6.
4.Sambunjak D, Straus SE, Marušić A. Mentoring in Academic MedicineA Systematic Review. JAMA. 2006;296(9):1103–1115. doi:10.1001/jama.296.9.1103
5.Decastro R, Griffith KA, Ubel PA, Stewart A, Jagsi, R. Mentoring and the career satisfaction of male and female academic medical faculty. Academic Medicine. 2014 Nov. 89(2):301-311.
6.Piercy M. “Circles on the Water: The Selected Poems of Marge Piercy. Published Alfred A. Knopf, NY. 1982.