March 14, 2022

Honoring Women during Women's History Month

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Women’s History Month is a celebration. It’s a time to admire and respect women's contributions throughout history, but also a time to re-energize our efforts towards equality and equity for the rest of the year.

As the pandemic begins to taper off, this year’s theme honors the healing and hope women have provided throughout time.

Women have always played an influential role in caring for the lives and health of others. For example, women were known as primary caretakers during times of war, serving as nurses and medics. History books have written about women as healers in prehistoric times. Women have provided informal care to family members, carrying the burden of long-term needs of others.

Plus, as made evident by the pandemic, when conflicts between work, elderly care, and/or child care arise, women are the first to put their careers and lives on hold to assume responsibility. After the trials presented by the past two years, more dialogue on the challenges of caretaking for women is finally materializing.

At UAB, we are working every day on several efforts and initiatives to advance the health and lives of women as employees, trainees, and patients. From the work of our offices in diversity, equity, and inclusion across the UAB Health System and UAB’s campus to the work of maternal and women’s patient care options, we are committed to investing in the health and well-being of women.

Already, monumental moments in 2022 have occurred—one of my favorites being Dawn Bulgarella named as UAB Health System’s first president. Not only is she the first person to fill this new role but she is also the first woman to sit in a senior executive level position. Dawn’s leadership is significant in the history of our medical institution.

Her background as a strategic leader began working as an accountant for a Big Six accounting firm, her experience as a clinical administrator for a large department, and her role as CFO for the UAB Health System not only qualified her to be the first for this new role but also propelled her towards it.

Dawn's attributes in the realm of strategic leadership has been shown throughout her tenure at UAB Medicine and were evident and precisely what we needed for the new presidency position. Historically, we have looked for those attributes blindly in men and have either not recognized them in women or chosen not to give women the opportunity due to tradition and habit.

When I think about leading in concert with Dawn, I feel a tremendous amount of pride and trust. While she brings a unique perspective to the table because of her walk of life and experience as a woman, her abilities and capacity to lead are independent of her being a woman.

Additionally, many of those who sit on my leadership team are women. It is a major priority for me personally to promote and elevate women.

At the cornerstone of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, it’s not lost on me that our leadership scene looks different than other health systems across the country—with me as an African American man serving as CEO and Dean, and Dawn as a woman serving as the first UAB Health System president and CFO.

Our team paints a different picture than tradition has displayed, and I am beyond proud that we are radicalizing what leadership can look like right here in Birmingham, Alabama.

Since I became Dean in 2014, it has always been important to me to surprise and astonish the rest of the country with our rapid progression at UAB. And, now as CEO and Dean, I am pleased to be co-leading with Dawn—who I know will continue to build on our past successes, maintain our daily responsibilities as a health system, and work towards equity within our hospital walls and outside of them.

As we continue to reflect on women's history as caretakers and healers this month, let's think big and boldly about what we can accomplish together.

Whether offering direct care to patients, researching the next life-saving therapy, training to be the next generation of physicians and scientists, or working in a supportive role for any of the above, every woman employed by or training at UAB Health System deserves to be highlighted this year.