Celebrating America's Women Physicians

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Setting Their Sights
Making Their Mark
Changing Medicine
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Enriching Medical Education

Many patients find that doctors from their own communities are better able to understand their concerns. Because the women physicians who train future physicians recognize the value of diverse perspectives, they are developing innovative teaching strategies and programs to attract students from many backgrounds to all specialties. To help students succeed in medical school, women physicians act as mentors, advisors, and role models.

Women physicians are enlarging the base of students who aspire to careers in medicine, as well as expanding the skills that all medical students take into successful practice.

Full face photograph of Dr. Katherine A. Flores
Dr. Katherine A. Flores

Katherine A. Flores established two programs to encourage disadvantaged students to pursue careers in medicine: the Sunnyside High School Doctor's Academy and the middle school Junior Doctor's Academy. These programs provide academic support and health science enrichment to young people who might not otherwise be successful in their educational experiences—or be thinking about medical careers. READ MORE

Dr. Linda M. Dairiki Shortliffe

Dr. Linda M. Dairki Shortliffe built a successful career in the relatively new field of pediatric urology when very few women surgeons were doing such work. Since 1988, she has been at the Stanford University School of Medicine Medical Center and Packard Children's Hospital as chief of pediatric urology. Since 1993, she has also been director of the Urology Residency Program at Stanford, and has been successful in recruiting more women physicians to her specialty. She noted that the numbers have grown rapidly; when she got her board certification in urology in 1983, there were only fifteen women urologists in the U.S. Now there are more than two hundred. READ MORE

Full face photograph of Dr. Linda M. Dairiki Shortliffe
Full face photograph of Dr. Paula L. Stillman
Dr. Paula L. Stillman
Video: Dr. Paula L. Stillman Transcript: Dr. Paula L. Stillman

While teaching pediatrics at the University of Arizona in the 1970s, Paula Stillman needed a reliable way to evaluate her students' clinical competence. Her solution was to train and use "patient instructors" or "standardized patients." Stillman's system is a competency based program, Objective Structured Clinical Evaluations (OSCE), developed to assess medical students, foreign medical graduates, and U.S. doctors in danger of losing their licenses. Her system has also been adopted by medical schools in China. READ MORE

Video: Dr. Edithe J. Levit Transcript: Dr. Edithe J. Levit
Dr. Edithe J. Levit

In 1986, The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) bestowed their Special Recognition Award on Dr. Edithe J. Levit, the first woman president and CEO of a national medical association, the National Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Levit introduced new technologies and strategies for the examination of medical students, spearheading change to improve standards. Carefully managing the needs of both medical schools and examiners, she promoted dynamic changes that included the introduction of audiovisual tools, computer-based exams, and the first self-assessment test of the American College of Physicians. READ MORE

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Full face photograph of Dr. Rita Charon
Dr. Rita Charon
Video: Dr. Rita Charon Transcript: Dr. Rita Charon

As director of the program in humanities and medicine and the clinical skills assessment program at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, Rita Charon, M.D., developed an innovative new teaching method. The "parallel chart" system brings literature and medicine together to improve the doctor-patient relationship, and forms part of the only narrative competency course in a United States medical school. READ MORE

Video: Dr. Barbara Bates Transcript: Dr. Barbara Bates
Dr. Barbara Bates

Barbara Bates further developed the role of the nurse-practitioner, and wrote a guide to patient history-taking that has become the standard text for health practitioners and medical students. Her book, Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking, first published in 1974, has been published in several revised editions and includes a twelve-part video supplement, A Visual Guide to Physical Examination. READ MORE

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Full face right side view of Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee
Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee
Video: Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee Transcript: Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee

Barbara Ross-Lee, D.O., has worked in private practice, for the U.S. Public Health Service, and on numerous committees, and in 1993 was the first African American woman to be appointed dean of a United States medical school. READ MORE