Medical students recognized for research at national conference

The third place presentation described effort to foster leadership

April 12, 2017

A delegation of 12 students and two faculty members from the OHSU School of Medicine recently participated in the 102nd American Medical Women's Association meeting. The students' oral presentation won third place for original student research and described a burgeoning effort called the Women's Leadership Development Program.

The Women's Leadership Development Program is a new program designed to increase the leadership capacity, participation, and future success of self-identified women physician trainees at OHSU. The WLDP's mission is "to affirm, empower, and engage the full potential of woman-identified physicians, to support their professional development through community building, leadership skill development, mentoring, and wellness training." Many of the members of the WLDP are also members of a newly-restarted OHSU chapter of AMWA. 

Student attendees at AMWA 2017

"Through one-on-one mentorship, structured peer support, and various guest lectures on the gender gap in pay, building resiliency, and choosing a specialty, the WLDP has exposed me to some of the many challenges women face in medicine while providing me with the confidence to begin to face these challenges head on," said Brett Lewis, first-year medical student.

On attending the AMWA conference, Lewis said she "was proud for the opportunity to represent OHSU and the WLDP and to share our experience with and vision of this program with the broader medical community." 

"The meeting itself was enormously inspiring. I heard important talks on research topics like suicidality among women physicians and the gender pay gap, among others," said Hannah Dischinger, first-year medical student. "It was also a great opportunity to build even closer bonds within our group. The women in this group are a profound source of inspiration, support, and advice to me, so traveling with many of them was a great chance to deepen those bonds."

Drs. Elizabeth Lahti and Megan FurnariMentorship is a critical theme to building community and supporting the work of the WLDP. Elizabeth Lahti, M.D. R '07, assistant professor of medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, received an Exceptional Mentorship Award during the conference for her impact on the lives of students. Megan Furnari, M.D., instructor of pediatric neonatology, OHSU School of Medicine, also attended and contributed enormously to the students' experience. "We really had a chance to shine at this meeting, and to allow our mission and energy to reflect well on OHSU. I am so proud to have gotten this opportunity, and Dr. Furnari's facilitation made that possible for our group," said Dischinger.

With current support from the Bacon Medical Enrichment Scholarship, the School of Medicine Office of the Dean, and the Medical Society of Metropolitan Portland, WLDP members are exploring additional funding options to thoughtfully grow the program over the coming years.

"We would like to create a WLDP network both within the OHSU community and inspire other medical schools to start similar programs," said Dischinger, who was awarded an AMWA Medical Education Scholarship for 2017. "We would like to move towards a more formal and concrete role in shaping the OHSU community and perhaps even the medical school's curriculum."

The experience has left Lewis with a strong sense of purpose and sage advice for fellow medical students. "I would encourage other students to put themselves out there, network, listen to others' stories, and share their own work with the broader community," said Lewis. "The WLDP was started in order to support and foster leadership and a safe community for women medical students at OHSU, and it was both encouraging and motivating to see how our work inspired others from other institutions. We had several students and faculty approach us wanting to learn more about the program and how they can start something similar at their medical school." 

Student authors contributing to the Women's Leadership Development Program include:

  • Sweta Adhikary
  • Emily Ager
  • Margeaux Berroth
  • Hannah Dischinger
  • Brianna Ennis
  • Monique Hedmann
  • Cecilia Huang
  • Samantha Ing
  • Kara Konigsfeld
  • Brett Lewis
  • Mollie Marr
  • Allison Munn
  • Sasha Narayan
  • Alexandra Pincus
  • Kelsey Priest
  • Paige Sutherland