Women physicians are more prevelant now than ever before, despite the continued challenges they face. In 2021, we still see bias, gender pay gaps, and glass ceilings. However, our women physicians are breaking barriers and fighting for the equality of our future women in medicine.

Our women physicians excel in both their professional work and home lives, a misconception when thinking of female doctors. Their balancing skills are not only impressive, but set forth a standard of excellence in achieving work-life balance that all can learn from. Their commitment to education, research, and patient care is admirable and invaluable to our department, UAB, and the world of medicine as a whole. Additionally, our women are able to provide an added level comfort to many of our female patients, an added value that is specific to our department and specialties regarding women's health. 

It is vital that we acknowledge the obstacles our women physicians are still facing today. By addressing these challenges, we can bring awareness to the changes that need to be made now and for the future of our female physicians to come. 

We asked some of our women faculty about these challenges, why they became a physician, and what changes they hope to see for future women physicians. View their responses below, and then take time to meet all of our women physicians, here.

 

Audra Williams, M.D.williams audra

Why did you choose to become a physician?

I became a physician because it was the perfect way to combine my love for science and compassion for helping others. I also loved the educational aspect of being a doctor – being able to teach individuals and communities about health.

What are some continued challenges that women physicians face today? What do you think needs to be done to address and eliminate these challenges?

Women physicians still face the challenge of the glass ceiling in medicine. Though the number of female doctors has increased there has not been an equivalent rise in the number of women in leadership positions. There should be continued efforts to mentor and promote women in leadership at all levels of medicine.

 

Margaret I. Liang, M.D.mliang

What do you think is a common misconception people have regarding women physicians?

That women can't be surgeons, but I'm here to tell you that women can be excellent surgeons while still navigating all the other demands in life that we all face. Not to say it's easy, but like they say... nothing worth doing is easy.

Do you have any advice for other girls or women who desire to become a physician?

Seek out personal and professional relationships with people who will be your champions. My most valuable relationships are a core set of people both in and out of medicine who I trust to work through my most challenging decisions and who are my most vocal supporters during my successes.

 

imeyerIsuzu Meyer, M.D.

Do you have any advice for other girls or women who desire to become a physician?

Career in medicine is extremely rewarding. You impact many lives, directly and indirectly, such as your patients, their family, your trainees, your colleagues, as well as society overall. However, it is also inevitable that you will encounter “a bad day” from time to time. When that happens, it will shake your confidence, it may create doubts in your decision or cause you to wonder why you have chosen medicine as your career. In Japanese, we have an old saying, “Shoshin Wasuru Bekarazu” which means remember your original intention. Remember the day that you decided to pursue a career in medicine, the excitement you felt as you were reciting the Hippocratic Oath during the white coat ceremony as you entered into the medical profession, or the first time someone called you “Doctor.” That has certainly helped me cope with challenges along the way.

What do you hope to see regarding the future of women physicians?

I hope that we continue to live in a world where we embrace an individual for who they are, regardless of their gender or background. I hope that there will be fewer obstacles as one continues to pursue whatever their dream may be. I hope tomorrow is even a better place than it is today.

 

Akila Subramaniam, M.D., MPHasubra

What was a challenge you faced as a woman physician?

I think the biggest challenge women face in medicine is that there is a universal perception that women cannot be "physicians." In other words, that the "doctors" are typically male. This is less challenging in a specialty such as Obstetrics and Gynecology where the number of women entering the specialty is rapidly growing to outnumber men, but this still seems to be the case in many of the OB/GYN subspecialties. In accordance with the theory that "women aren't doctors" is the level of respect accorded to the "female physician" not only by patients, but also other medical practitioners in the system.

What are some continued challenges that women physicians face today? What do you think needs to be done to address and eliminate these challenges?

There are many challenges that women continue to face in medicine today. There are differing sets of standards as to what constitutes good leadership and readiness for promotion between men and women. Also, strong personality behaviors are mislabeled amongst women as opposed to considered the "norm" for others. It is applying this double standard that seems to be the biggest challenge women face today. Eliminating these challenges take time and education. There are various leadership, personality, teaching, and clinical styles, and they are all applicable to various situations. There is no one standard for excellence anymore - and recognizing that each individual adds value, even if different from some illusory norm, is the key to eliminating these barriers. Furthermore, including more women in highly visible positions is key to eliminating these challenges. Knowing there is a female Vice President of this United States now makes it a possibility for women anywhere - whereas previously it was a pipe dream.

 

campbell sukhkamal 1922442342Sukhkamal Campbell, M.D.

What was a challenge you faced as a woman physician?

One of the challenges that I have struggled with is my many roles – only one of which is being a physician. I want to be the best reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist to my patients and commit to them in the way they deserve, but that role is also juggled with being a mom of 2 little boys (age 4.5 yrs and 15 months) and a spouse and a daughter caring for elderly patients. I want to give my best in each arena of my life and sometimes that means there is no time for “me” – no time for self-reflection and unwinding. But I have learned, that I have to make and take that time – even it just means a 15 minute walk listening to Spotify or a 30 minute Peloton ride – to clear my mind, refocus on my priorities, and be the best physician / companion to my patients and also the best playmate for my kids and partner to my spouse. I am incredibly thankful for mentorship throughout my early training and career that reminded me that my family and my job would be something I would have to balance delicately and to be sure to take the time to work at that balance early on.

What do you hope to see regarding the future of women physicians?

I hope to see future generations of women physicians supporting each other through medical endeavors as well as personal struggles and strife. Often times women physicians who choose to prioritize their families (at particular times of need) are seen as being “weak” or “not committed to the field,” even by fellow female physicians and colleagues. However, I try to breed a culture of encouragement for my fellow female physician and hope future generations of women would continue to explore the work-life balance and applaud colleagues who have achieved a good balance by taking excellent care of patients while also taking time for themselves and their families – there is nothing wrong with that and it is a skillset that will only allow us to continue to thrive. We should applaud one another for seeking that balance, not shun those who pursue it.

 

Meet Our Women Physicians

Residents
Fellows: 
 Macie Champion, M.D.
Gabriella Cozzi, M.D.
Meredith Gray, M.D.
Michelle Lu, M.D.
Sarah Beebe, M.D.
Sofia Buenaventura, M.D.
Sarah Dunk, M.D.
Kelsey Lipking, M.D.
Mythreyi Mahalingam, M.D.
Tullia Rushton, M.D.
Francie O'Hea Ruzic, M.D.
Victoria Wheeler, M.D.
Allison Davis, M.D.
Kaitlyn Kincaid, M.D.
Claire McIlwraith, M.D.
Sara Beth Norton, M.D.
Lindsay Rucker, M.D.
Rebecca Fleenor, M.D.
Tavonna Kako, M.D.
Bessie Orfanakos, M.D.
Margaret Page, M.D.
Teresa L. Boitano, M.D.
Elisa T. Bushman, M.D.
Jhalak Dholakia, M.D.
Whitney Goldsberry, M.D.
Rubymel Knupp, M.D.
Ayamo Oben, M.D.
Lindsay S. Robbins, M.D.
Angela R. Seasely, M.D.
Jaclyn Arquiette Wall, M.D.