Being pre-med at Hopkins comes with a lot of advantages. We have amazing faculty who support us through the horrors of organic chemistry and physics. Our pre-professional office assigns every student with his/her own personal advisor. We have the Johns Hopkins Hospital right down the road from us for any research, shadowing, or clinical position we could image. Although I am grateful everyday for the opportunities and guidance that has helped me along this (sometimes terribly arduous) path, my involvement with the Women’s Pre-Health Leadership Society (WPHLS) has been responsible for some of the best experiences I’ve had as a pre-med.
This year I have been on the executive board for WPHLS as the programming co-chair, specifically I was in charge of planning our annual spring conference. Every spring we host a conference where we invite many physicians and scientists as guest speakers so students can learn about their careers and experiences in the health profession. The theme of this years conference was “Shaping The Future: The 21st Century Physician.” I wanted the conference to highlight the advancements and discoveries being made in medicine that will affect healthcare. What we learned from the physicians at the conference could someday affect our own medical careers!
Although this year’s theme of the conference focused on changes in technology and medical education, every the WPHLS conference is based in the importance of equality between males and females in medicine. To this day, women are still underrepresented in medicine, and even less represented in science. I wanted the conference to open a dialogue about how men and women can both address and amend these issues in healthcare.
Although the night before I was so nervous I don’t think I slept, the conference went on without any major hiccups! Our opening speaker, Dr. Tammy Brady, a pediatric nephrologist, spoke about how technology has improved her relationship with patients, and how it has helped her work from home, allowing her to keep a full time job and also be a mother of three.
I wanted the conference to be less formal and more interactive, so I decided to include 4 roundtable discussions. We had 16 physicians and scientists sit at a different table while students rotated around to speak intimately with the guests. During one of the breakout sessions I had an amazing conversation with Dr. Shukti Chakravarti. She told me how she started off her research by discovering a specific protein, and has since followed its function and role from the extracellular matrix to roles in immune regulation!
Our closing speaker, Dr. Sharon Bord, told us about the gender stereotypes she faces everyday in the office. She said many patients don’t recognize or acknowledge that she is a doctor instead of a nurse. She ended her talk about how she has been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors who encouraged her to look past any inequalities to become an emergency medicine physician.
I left the conference that day feeling extremely grateful and inspired. The members of WPHLS were so helpful the entire day. Their hard work made the conference run as smoothly as it did.
I was also so inspired by all of the guest speakers. Hearing about their struggles and achievements in medicine was an experience I will never forget, and has given me the courage to go forward and follow their footsteps.
I never would have thought that coming to Hopkins would give me opportunities like I had at this WPHLS conference. It was equal parts scary and rewarding trying to put together this conference, but it was a valuable learning process!