Last week, I had the honor to be a panel speaker at the 10th Anniversary of the MGM Resorts Women's Leadership Conference. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and visiting with incredible women who shared similar goals and aspirations.
Donna Brazile, a political strategist and recently named interim chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, was the keynote speaker. She gave a rousing speech about her career and philosophy of life.
The master of ceremonies was Natalie Allen, an anchor and correspondent for CNN International. She was an excellent moderator for the program and for the panel I was on. The panel consisted of:
- Stephanie D. Miller, the Global Vice President for Strategic Partnership Marketing, the Coca-Cola Company;
- Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association; and
- Janet Murguia, the president and chief executive officer for the National Council of La Raza. I worked with Janet while at the University of Kansas. She was the vice chancellor for communications when I was dean of medicine.
||Dr. Atkinson and Janet Murguia
We each represented a different area of business: academic medicine, a large global business, a trade association that is extremely important to the vitality of Las Vegas, and the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. Even though we represented different aspects of business, we shared many commonalities.
Principles of success
We agreed the glass ceiling was no longer shatterproof and focused on several key principles of success:
- Hard work is the first and most essential
- Taking calculated risk
- Accepting responsibility
- Self confidence, and
- Staying true to your values and principles, especially those of honesty and compassion.
We each shared a story of a "failure" and how we learned from it and used the lessons learned to move to a better place. I strongly believe what is meant to be, will happen. It always makes it easier to move on and see what comes next.
Women in Medicine Leadership Mentoring
I discussed the importance of mentoring and teaching future leaders in our profession. Academic medicine has several paths for women who want to advance their careers in medicine. The American Association of Medical Colleges (
), represents the 145 accredited U.S. and 17 Canadian medical schools, their associated academic hospitals, and their academic societies. UNLV will be allowed to join when we receive our preliminary accreditation, which we hope will be this October. They have several interest groups. One is the group on women in medicine and science (
). Each medical school in the country appoints a woman faculty member to be the liaison to this group. They have several sessions at their annual meeting designed to help women learn the tools to succeed. Each year they
sponsor professional development seminars
for early-career and mid-career women faculty in academic medicine.
GWIMS also collects data on the progress being made for women in academic medicine. The most recent
show that women represent 47 percent of students, 38 percent of full-time faculty, 21 percent of full professors, 24 percent of division chiefs, 15 percent of chairs of departments, and 16 percent of deans of medical schools.
Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine
I have seen real progress for women in medicine across my long career. When I started medical school in 1970, there was a quota of 10 percent women in my class; the year before the quota was just 5 percent. Now, and for the past 15 years, women have made up nearly half of all entering medical students.
The growth is not as strong for women in academic medicine leadership, but it is improving. When I first became a dean in 1996, there was just one other woman dean leading a medical school. There has been a gradual increase in numbers since then, but it hasn't kept pace with the number of women practicing medicine.
In 1995, to combat this issue, the Medical College Pennsylvania (MCP) and Hahnemann University established an Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (
) Program for Women. I am proud to have been a part of the program's initial leadership team. More than 1,000 women have gone through the program to date. Currently 11 of the 28 women deans in the U.S. graduated from ELAM and hundreds of women are in leadership positions in our nation's medical schools as a result.
The program is a part-time fellowship made up of three weeklong sessions throughout the year. Each dean of a medical, dental or public health school can nominate one senior woman they believe is ready to become a chair of a department or a dean of a health science school within the next five years. Sessions include such topics as financial analysis, negotiating, conflict management, human resource management, strategic planning, and many other skills necessary for future leaders. This year's class has 54 members from all over the country, including a few international women.
The networking that comes from ELAM may be one of its most valuable assets. Women know other women from schools across the country and can bring best practices to their own institution and can nominate others for open positions.
I'm very proud to have been a faculty member for this program for many years. In fact, I probably wouldn't be the founding dean at UNLV Medicine without it. When UNLV was looking for candidates for this position, Karen West, DDS, current Dean of the School of Dental Medicine at UNLV, was chairing the search committee. She is an ELAM alumna and called Roz Richmond at ELAM and asked for suggestions for the dean's position. They knew I was retired and gave her my name. Karen called me and asked me to visit UNLV to learn more about their vision. When I came here, I met with Donald Snyder, John White, Carl Reiber and Jim Thomson, who ultimately convinced me to take this exciting position. I'm so grateful for my rewarding career and the people I have met along the way.