September 27, 2023 | Midwestern University
In honor of Women in Medicine Month, four Midwestern University faculty members from both campuses reflected on their experiences and offered advice for female students pursuing healthcare careers. The faculty members include Sheila Wang, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCIDP, Professor, Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, and Parres Wright, O.D., FAAO, Associate Professor, Chicago College of Optometry from the Downers Grove Campus, and Janna Kroleski, D.P.M., Assistant Professor, Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine, and Sharon Edwards, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinical Assistant Professor, Speech-Language Pathology, from the Glendale Campus. This is the second article in a four-part series. Look for more coming soon.
Dr. Wang: “My mentor was the professor who taught me infectious diseases in pharmacy school. I was attracted by how much she knew and her teaching style. I had the pleasure of doing research with her and got to see her interactions with other healthcare professionals, the doctors and nurses at the maternal-fetal HIV clinic, and how much they respected her. I don’t think I appreciated this at the time, but reflecting on this now, I do believe her being a professional female, of Asian descent, and a working mom at the time, greatly influenced me to follow in her footsteps. Today, I appreciate her even more for taking me under her wing as a pharmacy student. She’s been a great influence to me directly and indirectly as I reflect on our time working together.”
Dr. Wright: “I have been very blessed and lucky to have very good mentors. They were willing to take the time, allow me to ask questions, and work with me on different projects. When I was in optometry school, I had two professors that were excellent. One served as a mentor for me to see myself in a future in academia. I had another who allowed me to shadow her for research in the specialty I was going to go into, low vision. You need to see the career modeled in some way. Mentorship from other women and men are key. I say that because oftentimes in a lot of these healthcare fields, men are the ones in leadership. They have a seat at the table in how things get done. When men mentor women, they get to know their perspectives. When people ask me to be their mentor, I almost always say yes. I would not have the knowledge I have without someone taking the time to mentor me. I believe in taking the time to push that forward.”
Discuss the importance of women studying and becoming healthcare providers.
Dr. Kroleski: "I believe it is essential for women to continue studying medicine and becoming healthcare providers. I personally feel more comfortable as a patient having a provider that can relate to me and my health conditions, and I believe that is common amongst women. When possible, I deliberately choose female providers and I have several patients who do the same, simply because they feel I can relate to them and share their experiences."
Ms. Edwards: "Representation matters. Having strong and capable mentors with balanced lives can motivate and inspire women entering healthcare. Having a female mentor who can invite a student or someone who is new to the field to share in an experience they wouldn’t have otherwise helps them feel that they have an ally."