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Program helps women gain access to academic leadership in health care

The disparity is striking – more than half of American medical students are women, while women make up just 18% of medical school deans, 19% of department heads and 26% of full professors.

These statistics, published last year in the PLOS ONE peer-reviewed research journal, are indicative of the kind of data that in 1995 gave birth to the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program for women – a program housed at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia that is designed to help “increase and sustain the number and impact of women in leadership positions in the health sciences.”

Dr. Alison Netski, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health as well as Acting Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at UNLV’s Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, recently completed the prestigious part-time fellowship in Dr. a highly competitive one-year program that includes three weeks of in-person sessions and a challenging distance program. The more than 1,200 alumni of the ELAM program hold leadership positions in 269 academic health organizations.

“The deliberate development and advancement of a diverse leadership team,” Netski said, “better positions an institution to meet the needs of the community and the student body it serves. The program (ELAM)…focuses on the structure of academic health care, diversity, equity and inclusion, team leadership, negotiations, economics, and conflict management, among others. The ELAM program provides the experience and tools to assess your own organization from a different perspective and be more strategic in advancing the mission.

Netski isn’t the first medical professional at UNLV to complete the program that initially limited fellowships to women representing medical schools. It has expanded to include fellows from dental, pharmacy, and public health schools as well as fellows from international medical schools. Dr. Lily Garcia, former Associate Dean of Education at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, who became Dean of the UNLV School of Dentistry in 2019, is a 2006 Fellow of the ELAM program.

“It had a profound impact on my leadership skills that enabled meaningful contributions to institutional capacity building,” Garcia said. “I have used the skills and the network to build an outstanding administrative team here – associate deans and department chairs at UNLV Dental Medicine. This team has gained a deep understanding of what it takes to move our academic dental institution forward and raise our professional profile and expectations as a key partner within the nascent academic health initiative for Nevada.

Dr. Deborah Kuhls, assistant dean for research at the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, where she is also a professor of surgery and director of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program, completed her ELAM fellowship in 2013.

Former president of the Clark County Medical Society and current medical director of the UMC Trauma Intensive Care Unit, Kuhls said, “ELAM is an exceptional opportunity for professional development in many ways. The pre-scholarship assessment…and…assessment provides each scholar with new…knowledge about themselves. Didactics, readings, discussions, and application of knowledge to real-life challenges in academia provide the individual with the opportunity to actively participate in time-limited problem solving with group members having different personalities and backgrounds… ELAM provided me with the leadership skills to be an agile leader in professional organizations and in NSHE institutions. »

Gender inequalities in leadership positions have captured the attention of many healthcare organizations, including the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). In a 2019 article on the AAMC website, “Where are all the deans? Dr. John Prescott, Director of Studies, said: “Inequalities can affect a school’s ability to recruit, retain and sustain the commitment of talented teachers. Ultimately, this has a negative impact on our students and our patients. In the same article, Dr. Sashal Shillcutt, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said, “When committees look at women as opportunities, you hear things like, ‘She just had a baby. or “We would consider her,” but she has three kids. Those are things that never come with men who are in the same rank.

Deans of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine support ELAM. In 2021, Dr. Barbara Atkinson, founding dean of the medical school and the only woman to lead three medical schools in the United States, received the Woman in Medicine Award at the second annual Women’s Leadership Summit co-sponsored by ELAM and organized by Drexel University and the Committee for Women in Medicine and Science.

Dr. Marc Kahn, the current Dean of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, nominated Netski for the ELAM Fellowship.

“His experience with ELAM will give him the resources to help us develop a stronger faculty development program,” he said. “Dr. Netski has already established herself as a leader in our school. Thanks to ELAM, she will become an even more effective leader.

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