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Dr. Ethel Schwartz Weinberg





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1936


Medical School

Hahnemann Medical College


Geography

LOCATION
Pennsylvania
LOCATION
Massachusetts


Career Path

Diagnostic and therapeutic services: Anesthesiology
Administration: Medical association presidents
Education: Academic Affairs
Dr. Ethel Schwartz Weinberg



Milestones

YEAR
1989
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Ethel Weinberg organized and served as the first president of the Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers.
YEAR
1970
ACHIEVEMENT
Dr. Ethel Weinberg organized and received American Medical Association approval for the first internship in acute care medicine. This later evolved into the specialty of emergency medicine.


Inspiration

I think I decided early that I had the interest and the capability to be a physician, and I did not want to settle for second best. I grew up in the days when most women who wanted a profession were encouraged to be nurses or teachers. It did not seem enough to me. I wanted to do it all.

Who really knows the answer to such questions?



Biography

Dr. Ethel Weinberg was instrumental in establishing emergency medicine as a medical specialty with a standard training in acute care internship. She identified emergency room medicine (with its flexible hours) as an area well-suited to women with children, and launched a training program that won approval from the American Board of Medical Specialties for the first ever internship in acute care.

Ethel Weinberg graduated from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1961, and took her residency in anesthesiology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital from 1973 to 1975. "I was greatly influenced by circumstances and serendipity," says Dr. Weinberg. "I had a baby the day I finished my internship and worked only part time for a few years. Part of the work was in administration in a new hospital and I found that I enjoyed that sort of challenge." In the late 1960s, Dr. Weinberg had considered returning to school for a master of public health degree. She met with Glen Leymaster, dean of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania to discuss the idea. Instead, Dr. Weinberg remembers, "He offered me a job and I was suddenly in medical school administration working on medical manpower issues." In 1968, she became a member of the faculty at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, in the departments of anesthesiology and community and preventive medicine.

With staffing issues one of her primary responsibilities, Dr. Weinberg became concerned by the numbers of women leaving medicine to concentrate on raising their children. Evidently, the structure of training and practice and its schedule were incompatible with family life. As the primary caregiver, a mother often had to sacrifice her career entirely or settle for slow progress professionally.

Dr. Weinberg sought ways to help talented women balance family life with their careers, and stay in medicine.

She explained, "I was struck that we needed some form of training that did not require the traditional working hours of a resident and where there were part-time jobs available. It seemed that 'acute care medicine' in emergency rooms was a feasible idea." At that time, hospitals were just beginning to hire doctors specifically for emergency room coverage. As director of the Retraining Program for Women Physicians at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in the early 1970s, Dr. Weinberg organized a fellowship and then won American Medical Association approval for the first acute care internship. She recalls, "I still remember meeting with Bill Ruhe and Jack Nunemaker¿vice president of the American Medical Association and head of the American Board of Medical Specialties, respectively¿in a hotel room in Chicago. They told me that there was no such thing as acute care medicine but 'if it would keep the girls happy,' they would approve of it."

In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Dr. Weinberg to the National Library of Medicine's Board of Regents, where she served on the extramural programs subcommittee. In 1980 Dr. Weinberg was named senior associate dean at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and in 1986 she moved to Massachusetts, where she was made vice president for academic affairs at Baystate Medical Center, a training hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. She was named dean at Baystate in 1988. During her tenure there, Dr. Weinberg realized that there was a general lack of appreciation for the important role of large, independent teaching hospitals in medical education. In 1989 she formed the Alliance of Independent Medical Centers, to address the common interests of these hospitals. She became the first president of the Alliance, and remained as its chair until 1994. Now more than ten percent of all residents in training in the United States are serving in Alliance-member hospitals and health systems.

During her time in Massachusetts, Dr. Weinberg also served on many national administrative committees, greatly influencing medical school policy. In 1991 and 1992 she chaired the American Hospital Association coordinating committee on medical education and served on its accreditation council for graduate medical education. She was also active in the Association of American Medical Colleges organizing committee for residency education from 1991 to 1995.

Retiring from academic responsibilities in 1996, Dr. Weinberg moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she continued her administrative work as a consultant in academic affairs. Most recently she has worked for Larned and Weinberg Academic Health Consultants, focusing primarily on strategic planning issues for teaching hospitals.



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

A tough question; I tend not to think of obstacles. In some ways it was the fact of being a woman. For example, I knew of no women surgeons when I was making a decision about a specialty. I knew there were some, but I also knew that it would be extremely difficult to find a good residency that would accept me and I was already married and not very mobile. Another example, there was only one woman dean in the United States during most of my professional career, and she was at Woman's Medical College. To become a dean would have been a logical but not very realistic career step at the time. I should add that being a woman also opened some interesting doors for me.

How do I make a difference?

I was the first director of the Retraining Program for Women Physicians at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. I was struck that women needed some form of training that did not require the traditional working hours of a resident and where there were part-time jobs available. It seemed that "acute care medicine" in emergency rooms (they were just beginning to hire physicians for coverage) was a feasible idea. I organized a "fellowship" in acute care and then achieved American Medical Association approval for the first internship. This was the beginning of emergency medicine.

Alliance of Independent Academic Medical Centers¿I organized and became the first president of the Alliance. I think it has been successful in giving hospitals the recognition and support they deserve.

Board of Regents¿I was appointed by President Nixon to the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine. I was always very proud of this appointment and very aware that they were looking for a woman.

Who was my mentor?

There were several, but perhaps the most important was my junior high school science teacher, William Richey. He encouraged me to study chemistry (not teaching, etc.), and showed a great deal of interest in my future. His vote of confidence was extremely important at the time. As I think about this answer, I note that all of the examples that come to mind are men. I would like to think that I have been a mentor also.

How has my career evolved over time?

I was greatly influenced by circumstances and serendipity. I had a baby the day I finished my internship and worked only part-time for a few years. Part of the work was in administration in a new hospital and I found that I enjoyed that sort of challenge. This led me to consider a master's in public health and I was encouraged to discuss that with the dean of Woman's Medical, Glen Leymaster. He offered me a job and I was suddenly in medical school administration working on medical manpower issues. That opened the doors to other more senior medical school and hospital administration positions. As I became more senior I was able to become more involved with policy issues at a local and national level. Now, although officially retired, I do a good deal of counseling, largely around strategic-planning issues for teaching hospitals.