March 10, 2022
This month is Women’s History Month. As I think back on my medical career, I feel it is important to give a shout-out to the women who encouraged and inspired me. When I attended Columbia Medical School (known as P&S) in 1980, women students made up only about 1/3 of the class. Now medical school classes consist of around 50% women. I then chose the surgical subspecialty ophthalmology and further specialized in retina. Early in my retinal career, I would walk into a meeting where there would be a sea of men and me!! That has changed and now women make up about 20% of retina docs. Among ophthalmology specialties, retina still attracts the smallest percentage of women. You may ask why this is. As I did my training, the men discouraged us with comments like-it is many years of training, too many nights on-call, and too many emergencies. But what they did not realize is that women can figure difficult things out and make it work. I have found a nice balance between my career, my family and friends and my hobbies.
I always have students working in my office. And though I love all my students, there is a special place in my heart for women in STEM. I feel women need support and role models. The next generation of women doctors are fabulous! They are motivated and well educated. These women will advance medicine, become chairwomen of academic departments and provide warm and compassionate care to their patients. The future of medicine will improve as women become leaders in their fields. I am terribly proud of the next generation of women doctors and I hope I have served as a positive role model.