DEI in Internal Medicine – September/October 2023

The following newsletter is provided by clinical associate professor Jeydith Gutierrez, MD, MPH, Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Department of Internal Medicine.

September is one of my favorite months of the year, with mild weather, mostly sunny days and the leaves starting to turn to display the variety of beautiful fall colors. This changing environment and weather seem to be a metaphor for the cultural richness of the fall season, that holds multiple social, historical and religious celebrations.

September is American Medical Association’s (AMA) Women in Medicine Month, which serves as a timely reminder of the invaluable contributions of women physicians, scientists, and health care professionals to the medical field. It also is a time to showcase the advocacy efforts for gender equity, including specific issues impacting our female patients. There has been much progress made since 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in the US to receive a medical degree, but there is yet much work left to do to achieve gender equity.

For over 20 years slightly more women than men are entering medical school. Nevertheless, women remain markedly underrepresented in leadership roles and at the associate and full professor levels in academic institutions. The gender pay-gap, differences in opportunities for career advancement, and other challenges are still encountered by many women in our profession. Some of these are the results of structural and unconscious biases.

I ran into a glaring example of gender bias this week. I asked ChatGPT® to find “the best inspirational quotes by women in medicine”. The result were 10 quotes, 6 of which were quotes attributed to men. This was a clear example of how a biased training data set resulted in an incorrect response by this generative artificial intelligence program. It is certainly not due to a lack of famous quotes by women in medicine, but the result of the program’s ability to find them. It is also possibly the reflection of our own social biases, given the lesser amplification of women’s messages, fewer opportunities to publish and often historical misattributions of their work to men.

Everyone can help change these structural and social biases that still prevail in our profession. For that purpose, we must start with self-reflection, as many of these unconscious biases are held by women and men alike. We can intentionally work on amplifying the accomplishments and messages of our bright women colleagues, quoting their work and celebrating their achievements, as much as we do with those of our men colleagues.

The department will recognize our women faculty this Friday with a collection of their thoughts on the subject in a feature titled “In Her Own Voice”. I look forward to hearing their voices. Finally, I leave you with a quote by Dr. Mona Hanna-Atisha:

Be the person who never stops believing that through science, compassion, and advocacy, you can make the world a better place.”

Happy Women in Medicine Month, to all my women colleagues!

Iowa Medical Society – Women in Medicine Conference

The Iowa Medical Society Women in medicine Conference took place Friday, September 15, and Saturday, September 16.

Speakers included two women from UIHC, Dr. Cat Olinger, from the Orthopedics Department and Dr. Alison Lynch who moderated a panel on Empowered Finances.

Additional speakers included Jessica Zuzga-Reed, DO; Deborah Turner, MD (UI alumni, OB-GYN), Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD; Cindy Hanawalt, MD PhD (UI Alumni), Tiffani Milless, MD; Ashlee Vieregger, JD, CFP®, CTFA; and Abi Reiland, MS.

Dr. Turner, in her session “Transforming the Landscape of Medicine Through the Power of Women” reminded us that “Women in medicine have the power to build a stronger, more diverse and equitable medical community by leaning into untapped power.”

Did you attend? Tell us about it!

Learn more at the event website.

Department of Internal Medicine Diversity Get-together on September 23

The department will host a family-friendly get-together at the Iowa City City Park next Saturday, September 23, for our department faculty and staff from Underrepresented in Medicine backgrounds. If you have not done so, please RSVP here.

September 15 to October 15 is Latinx Heritage Month

There are multiple celebrations and events taking place across campus. See the detailed schedule of the celebrations hosted by the University of Iowa.

Additional events and celebrations

  • October 1 – National Disability Employment Awareness Day: this was created to educate on issues workers with disabilities face and how employers can practice inclusive hiring practices.
  • October 1 — National Latina/a/x Physician Day
  • October 1-31 – LGBTQ+ History Month: to celebrate the history, legacy, and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. It is different than June’s Pride Month, as it was specifically created with the intent of preserving LGBTQ+ history and encouraging the study of it.
  • October 1-31 – Filipino American History Month celebrates the events, experiences, and lives of Filipino Americans
  • October 1-31 – Global Diversity Awareness Month celebrates the way different cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds, heritages, and abilities contribute to more dynamic and creative workplaces.
  • October 10 – World Mental Health Day and National Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • October 11 – National Coming Out Day

September/October religious celebrations

  • Arba’een (Islam) – September 5-6: an annual religious pilgrimage marking the end of the 40-day mourning period after the Day of Ashura for Shia Muslims
  • Krishna Janmashtami (Hinduism) – September 6 and 9: the celebration of the transcendental birthday of Lord Krishna
  • Rosh Hashanah (Judaism) – September 15-17: Jewish New Year, highlights rest and reflection
  • Yom Kippur (Judaism) – September 24-25: The holiest time of the Jewish year. It is the Day of Atonement or seeking forgiveness.
  • Mawlid al-Nabi (Islam) – September 27: The celebration of the birth and life of the prophet Muhammad
  • Sukkot (Judaism) – September 29 to October 6: A 7-day holiday commemorating when Jews journeyed to the desert on the way to the promised land
  • Pitru Paksh (Hinduism) – September 29 to October 14, a period when members of the Hindu faith pay homage to their ancestors
  • Shemini Atzeret (Judaism) – Oct. 6 – Oct. 8
  • Simchat Torah (Judaism) – Oct. 7, 2023. Rejoicing of the Law. Joyous festival in which the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah in the synagogue is completed and its first book begun again. The celebration typically includes singing, dancing, and marching with Torah scrolls.
  • Birth of the Bab (Baha’i) – Oct. 15: The anniversary of the birth of the Bab, the herald of the new age for Baha’is. The Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel, is part of the World Center of the Baha’i faith.
  • Navaratri (Hinduism) – Oct. 15 – Oct. 23:  A nine-night (nav-rat) celebration of nine auspicious forms of Shakti/Devi (feminine divine power/the Goddess).
  • Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i) – Oct. 16: The anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith.
  • Installation of Granth Sahib Ji as Guru (Sikhism) – Oct. 20: This day celebrates Gobind Singh Ji’s passing on guruship to Scripture, henceforth known as the Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Dusserah (Vijaya Dashami) (Hinduism) – Oct. 23: A major Hindu festival celebrated every year at the end of Navaratri.
  • Reformation Day (Christianity- Protestant) – Oct. 31: Commemorates the beginning of the Protestant Reformation of Christianity with Martin Luther’s challenge to the Roman church in the sixteenth century C.E.
  • Samhain (Wicca/Paganism):  The New Year and the final harvest festival, celebrating the last gifts of the Earth before winter and the return of the spirits of the dead.

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