“Celebrate good times…come on, let’s celebrate”
“Party like it’s your birthday”
September is Women in Medicine Month, and it is time to celebrate!
How do you celebrate the holidays and special occasions in your life? Do you wait until someone honors you or do you make plans to promote it yourself?
What days or months do you circle on the calendar with a big red heart weeks in advance? Those are the things you look forward to and want to celebrate. Your birthday, Mother’s Day, religious holidays, or Thanksgiving?
Are there full months that you celebrate? I have a friend who calls the entire month of her birthday a “birthday pageant.” Instead of celebrating for just one day she has different get-togethers with friends over the month. Some she plans and some are planned by others.
Is there a difference of how you celebrate the big birthdays (for me, the ones that end in zeros and fives) compared to the ordinary ones? Are parties, travel, or once-in-a-lifetime trips part of these for you? Various aspects are important to each individual.
Think about all the effort you put into becoming a doctor- a woman in medicine! We need more than one day of honor. We deserve a full month of recognition! Can we not do our own pageant or have a multitude of celebrations? Being a doctor is such an important part of our identity so why not promote it as much as we can!
Think back to my earlier question of how you like to celebrate your birthday and apply it here. Which of these three options feels right for you?
1. Plan your own celebration!
- Create events to bring awareness to issues that impact women physicians
- Advocate on behalf of women physicians for issues like parental leave, pay disparities, breastfeeding rights, or representation in leadership.
- Share the stats about women in medicine. A 2018 Annals of Internal Medicine position paper outlined that in 2015, 34% of the active physicians, 46% physicians in training, and over 50% of medical students were female. Studies have shown that having a woman physician leads to better patient outcomes.
- Do what I am doing- author an article or blog promoting women in medicine. You can do that for your local paper, for physician websites like Doximity and KevinMD, or for your health system or society newsletter. You can share your thoughts on social media as well.
- Send thank you notes to women doctors in your office or organization. Post flyers in the clinic in September so patients and coworkers are aware.
- Plan a party- a breakfast or lunch at the office or something after hours.
- Celebrate by taking a break! Go on a vacation where you have some time to relax, renew, and reflect.
2. Have others plan a celebration for you!
- Attend one of the many conferences for women in medicine. I have had the chance to go to several of them and have found the community to be amazing. These events often highlight challenges faced by women in medicine and can offer both education and solutions. They celebrate the efforts and impact of female doctors. Some occur in the month of September or soon after because of Women in Medicine Month but there are opportunities throughout the year.
- Become part of an existing community of women physicians online or in real life. Support each other and have fun together. Join the Women in White Coats Doctors’ Lounge to meet fellow sisters in medicine.
- Join a professional society specifically for women physicians (AMWA: American Medical Women’s Association, CWAMS: Center for Women in Academic Medicine and Science, and ELAM: Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine) or a society with a women physician arm (ACP: American College of Physicians and National Medical Association).
3. Give gifts!
- Organize a fundraiser or donate your time and effort as a celebration. Support can include money, time, or energy.
- My social media feeds are full of individuals raising money for different causes to celebrate their birthday. Instead of getting personal gifts they want others to donate to a cause that is important to them. How can you use September as a month to support other women doctors and trainees?
- Mentor or work with female students or trainees as a way to pay it forward and laud the continued growth of women in the medical fields.
- Fund a year membership in a society for a trainee or early career physician.
- Donate in honor of a mentor or sponsor.
- Nominate a female physician for an award.
- Spend a day of service supporting a worthwhile cause.
- Agree to be on a board or serve in a leadership role in your professional society.
Are you inspired to start planning an awesome and impactful way to honor all women in medicine? Begin now in September and then determine a way to keep up the soundtrack throughout the year! There are so many ways to celebrate, honor, and support your sisters in white coats!
“You’re simply the best!”
Marion Mull McCrary MD FACP is a practicing primary care general internist in North Carolina and a national board-certified health and wellness coach. She is a former Women in White Coats Writers Fellow and Podcast Co-Host. Her website is http://www.marion-wellness.com, and she can be followed on Instagram and Facebook at @marionmccrarywellness and Twitter at @marionmccrarymd.