Stanford University School of Medicine leaders issue call to action to address lack of women in leadership in medical schools

Flexibility needs to become a core part of professional culture for more women to "lean in" to leadership in medical careers  

STANFORD, Calif., Aug. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While women have been representing 50% of US medical school graduates for over 10 years, they represent only 13% of department chairs and 11% of deans. In a commentary published in the September issue of Academic Medicine, the peer-reviewed journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Stanford School of Medicine leaders argue that a root cause for the dearth of women in leadership is a persistent cultural problem with work-life integration, leading to a loss of talent, leadership, and scientific innovation.

Hannah Valantine, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine and senior associate dean of leadership and diversity at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Christy Sandborg, MD, associate chair of pediatrics and vice president of medical affairs at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, argue that it has become a national imperative to re-think the structure of career paths in academic medicine. The current culture of medical schools is based on an outdated work model and sends the message that work-life integration and flexibility are incompatible with career advancement. This culture persists despite the implementation of flexibility policies in universities and the importance of work-life integration to new trainees. 

The authors maintain that culture change requires an integrated approach where flexibility options become a part of the career planning process of trainees and faculty. Flexibility policies such as parental leave, tenure clock extensions, and part-time work options need to be reframed as important enablers of long-term career advancement and be a part of ongoing career development discussions. In addition, institutions must invest in increased support to enable faculty to integrate career and personal life.

Valantine and Sandborg describe the Stanford University School of Medicine initiative to shift the culture of academic medicine: Academic Biomedical Career Customization (ABCC). The framework includes the creation of individual career plans that jointly considers long-term career goals and work-life needs, as well as concrete support services to better support the daily work-life needs of faculty, including home and professional outsourcing services.

Hannah Valantine, MD, is the senior associate dean for diversity and leadership and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In this role, she is responsible for the development and implementation of new strategies to expand faculty diversity and development. Dr. Valantine is also the Director of Clinical Transplant Research and is the author of over 160 peer-reviewed publications.

Christy Sandborg, MD, is the vice president of medical affairs at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford and Professor and Associate Chair of Pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Her work focuses on the future of academic pediatrics and pediatric rheumatology through providing training, research opportunities and environments to nurture and challenge future pediatric rheumatologists and subspecialists.

The Office of Diversity and Leadership at the Stanford University School of Medicine was founded in 2004 and takes a new and innovative approach to diversifying academic medicine and the ranks of future practicing physicians.

Contact: Caroline Simard
Associate Director
Office of Diversity and Leadership
Stanford University School of Medicine
Phone: (650) 303-4835

SOURCE Office of Diversity and Leadership, Stanford University School of Medicine


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