Skip Navigation Celebrating America's Women Physicians
Changing the face of Medicine Home Visit Physicians
Resources Activities Share your Story

Biography
Return

 Return 

Dr. Carolyn Bauer Robinowitz





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1938


Medical School

Washington University School of Medicine


Geography

LOCATION
District of Columbia


Career Path

Psychiatry
Administration: Medical school deans
Dr. Carolyn Bauer Robinowitz



Milestones

YEAR
1976
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz was the founding director of the American Psychiatric Office of Education.
YEAR
1985
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz was the first woman president of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
YEAR
1981
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz was the first woman to serve as president of the Council of Medical Specialties.
YEAR
1998
ACHIEVEMENT
When Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz became dean of Georgetown University School of Medicine, she was the first woman psychiatrist to be named dean of a United States medical school.
YEAR
1979
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz was the first woman psychiatrist elected to the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
YEAR
1988
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz received the first "Educator of the Year" award from the Association for Academic Psychiatry.


Inspiration

I became a doctor for several reasons: Interest and curiosity about health and disease and with it the sense that I would always be learning (and doing) something new and exciting, as well as worthwhile.

Additionally, I come from a background of community service with idealism mixed with hard work. I grew up expecting to make a contribution to the betterment of those around me. My earliest teachers and mentors were nuns, active in the world, who by their actions not only demonstrated the importance of service, but that women could do anything provided they had the knowledge, skill and energy.

Although I started out planning to be a musician/musicologist, my interest in science and in people steered me in the direction of medicine/pediatrics initially, and then as I realized the need to understand more of the emotional/psychological functioning, moved to psychiatry.



Biography

On July 1, 1998, Carolyn Bauer Robinowitz, M.D., was named academic dean of the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She was the first woman psychiatrist to become dean of a U.S. medical school and one of nine women deans among the nation's 125 medical schools. A physician who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Robinowitz now also teaches part-time and serves as a senior consultant to medical and educational organizations and institutions.

Carolyn Landeck Bauer was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938, and graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 1959. She received her doctor of medicine degree from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1964, and pursued pediatric and general psychiatry training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She completed a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., serving as chief fellow in child psychiatry in 1968 and 1969.

After completing her postdoctoral training, Dr. Robinowitz was appointed chief of the Physician Training Section in the Continuing Education Branch of Manpower and Training Programs at the National Institutes of Health, where she was also a training officer from 1969 to 1970. She then moved to Florida to take up a position as director of the Community Mental Health Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine and director of psychiatry at the university's Mailman Center for Child Development, from 1970 to 1972. She held faculty positions in pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine from 1970 to 1972, and went on to become a consultant for Goddard College from 1973 to 1975.

In 1976, Dr. Robinowitz became director of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington, D.C., a position she held until 1986. She was the first woman to be named director of the association's Office of Education. She also held other positions with the association, including senior deputy medical director and chief operating officer from 1986 to 1994. In that role, she managed a staff of 200 to coordinate the efforts of more than 50,000 psychiatrists. Dr. Robinowitz concentrated on faculty development and led a program designed to promote collaboration between state mental health programs and academic psychiatry departments. From 1986 to 1994 she was also training program director for the American Psychiatric Association-National Institute of Mental Health Education Project.

Dr. Robinowitz served as clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and child health and development at the George Washington University School of Medicine from 1982 to 1995, and returned to that position in 2001. She has also been a senior lecturer in psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences since 1983.

After joining the faculty at Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1995 as the school's associate dean and later, academic dean from 1998 to 2000, Dr. Robinowitz led efforts to incorporate new teaching methods including computer-based learning, evidence-based medicine and cultural competency training. As clinical professor of psychiatry, she was responsible for the academic and professional development of medical students from admission through graduation. "One of the things about which I am most pleased at Georgetown," Dr. Robinowitz has written, "was my initiating an informal parental leave for medical students in which the new student parent spent a month on 'early childhood development,' a practicum in which she or he... observed herself or himself as a parent."

Throughout her career in education, Dr. Robinowitz has continued to practice medicine. Since leaving her full-time academic role she has continued her clinical practice, teaches, and consults. She is married to Dr. Max Robinowitz, and the couple have two sons.

Dr. Robinowitz has held key leadership positions in a variety of medical organizations. She was the first woman to serve as president of both the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. In addition, Dr. Robinowitz served as president for the Association of Academic Psychiatry, the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, and the American College of Psychiatrists. She was a member of the executive committee of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and the American Board of Medical Specialties. For the Association of American Medical Colleges she served on both the Council of Deans and the Council of Academic Societies.



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

I have had few obstacles. Initially, convincing my parents that my course was a sound one was a challenge, as was switching from music and liberal arts to premed and medical science.

The usual problems have been related to sexism┬┐generally covert and organizational/institutional in nature, but occasionally overt. Often being the first or only woman in an environment (and particularly in a leadership position) presented a challenge. Additionally, I presented a leadership style somewhat unfamiliar to men who had a more authoritarian/hierarchical environment, and who seemed to prefer "conquer" to "win-win."

How do I make a difference?

What has been a raison d'etre (reason for being) is my more recent role as a mentor to junior and mid-level (and sometimes more senior) faculty and clinicians. That's probably what most folks who know me would list as a major contribution. The "firsts" have been interesting and challenging and I have enjoyed bringing a more participatory and inclusive environment to many settings; but there are wonderful satisfactions in being a mentor and seeing mentees surpass their elders.

Who was my mentor?

I have been fortunate in having many mentors. My first was a woman, Margaret Potts, R.C.E., a nun and principal of my high school who encouraged me to work hard and follow up my dreams. There have been many wonderful teachers and colleagues and almost everyone for whom I have worked has provided me encouragement and direction. Department chairs Jim Sussex and Tom Webster gave me the go-ahead to pursue activities possibly beyond my level of skill and experience; Mel Sabshin, a mid-career mentor, taught me much about medical and organizational administration and leadership. Other women provided much support and collaboration, often through long distance relationships.

How has my career evolved over time?

I began in a traditional mode, in a university setting, blending education (teaching) and scholarship with patient care. It became clear that I was good at organizing things, developing courses (I had studied theory of education), evaluating them and working with trainees as well as faculty. My interest and energy led to volunteer work and I became more and more involved in medical education and administration. This expanded into administering clinical services as well. As I became successful in my work, I rose in the "establishment," moving to positions of increasing leadership. With this move, came less time for direct patient care and direct teaching and more for a public health/public policy broad approach. As the founding director of the American Psychiatric Office of Education, I utilized education and administrative skills. When I was promoted to chief operating officer, I discovered I needed to utilize skills of attorneys, people with a master of business administration, and others to be most effective. As a medical school dean, particularly in an environment where there was a major financial problem (and over which I had no control since it was part of the clinical enterprise, and not within the academic purview), I used an amalgamation of previously developed abilities in a challenging environment┬┐and in particular an environment that was not as comfortable with women as leaders. In all my roles, I have maintained clinical skills and a small practice. Now that I have left the university full time, I maintain an active clinical practice, teach and consult in a variety of settings.