Since its re-launch at the UAB School of Medicine in fall, 2015, the UAB faculty chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) has been hard at work identifying topics of pressing interest to women faculty, and providing resources to encourage networking and professional development. Through monthly meetings, and a number of working groups that target mentoring and advocacy, AMWA has engaged women in medicine and science at UAB School of Medicine in a myriad ways.

Over the 2016-2017 academic year, this AMWA chapter, led by President Lauren Walter, M.D., has endeavored to not only provide a wealth of information through monthly topical meetings, but also to encourage individual Doctor and studentconnections not only between faculty members, but between faculty, trainees and students.

The UAB AMWA chapter’s mission, which is to “promote, recognize, and celebrate women in medicine and science at UAB,” is realized on numerous levels through is components operations.

Cynthia Brown, M.D., who serves as Mentorship Chair for the AMWA chapter, initiated and coordinated a “networking match” for AMWA members. This unique program connected senior faculty with junior faculty, and faculty with students and trainees, in order to cultivate meaningful mentoring relationships. Mamie McLean, M.D., the Advocacy Chair for the chapter, is engaged in information gathering and initiating conversations regarding dependent care with UAB leadership, a topic of special interest and importance to AMWA members.

Networking has been a significant priority for AMWA. Paula Province, M.D., who spearheads networking operations, coordinated and organized the chapter’s first formal networking event: an off-site get-together, which allowed faculty, residents, and medical students to make connections and engage in insightful discussions regarding career plans, issues confronting women in medicine and science, and mechanisms for developing personally and professionally.

“It has been a truly successful inaugural year,” says chapter president Lauren Walter, M.D. “With the invaluable help of Dr. Mona Fouad and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, we were able to hit the ground running, and we have continued our momentum through the year.”

Marisa Marques, M.D., who is responsible for AMWA’s membership operations, led the organizations’ first membership drive in September, 2016, successfully recruited more than 40 new members. Jori May, M.D., who leads AMWA efforts with residents, is actively engaging residents in AMWA events and is planning a session targeted at residents when meetings resume on August 11.

P1010226The UAB chapter of AWMA begins many of its operations at its monthly meetings, which are typically held one Wednesday of the month at noon. Boxed lunches are provided for the first 50 attendees, and the meetings are usually full to capacity. The monthly meetings feature speakers discussing a wide range of topics, from avoiding burnout to recognizing human trafficking to forging a path to tenure. Guest speakers Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, former president of the national chapter of AMWA, and her husband, Dr. Paul Kirchgraber, were the featured speakers at the November meeting, and discussed negotiation strategies. Each meeting deals with a timely, sensitive and relevant topic, with practical applications for both career growth and personal insight.

Beyond its campus operations, UAB School of Medicine’s AMWA branch enjoyed an impressive showing on the national stage in March 2017 at the AMWA National Conference in San Francisco. Two UAB faculty, who are members of the UAB AMWA chapter, won awards: Marisa Marques, M.D., and Tina Simpson, M.D., were both given special recognition for their efforts in mentoring. Three residents, Katherine Booker, M.D., Sarah Bagwell, M.D., and Elizabeth Coffee, M.D., all placed in the resident oral poster competition as well. UAB medical students Yvonne Chodaba and Sally Harrison also attended the conference and presented posters.

“I knew we had some amazing women at UAB,” says Walter, “but to see their energy and collaboration at work via AMWA has been truly amazing.”

Lauren Walter and Yvonne Chodaba also serve as the Region 5 directors for the faculty and student sections of AMWA, respectively. Region 5 includes Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and the Carribean.

Walter hopes that the next academic year will see AMWA continue to build upon its tremendous momentum, expanding membership among faculty and residents, both men and women, across campus. The AMWA subcommittees will continue to work on projects targeting advocacy and mentorship, as well as collaborations across campus with other women’s groups, and an expanded regional presence.