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National Women Physician Day

Today marks the fourth annual National Women Physicians Day. This event celebrates Elizabeth Blackwell’s birthday; she was the first woman in America to receive a medical degree. As I’m a native Syracusan and alumnus of SUNY Upstate Medical University, Dr. Blackwell’s story is truly one of the most inspiring notes of history for me.

Elizabeth Blackwell championed the participation of women in the medical profession and ultimately opened her own medical college for women. Dr. Blackwell might be proud and surprised to know that today we also honor and thank the over 130 women physicians of vRad!

Below I, along with a few of my colleagues from our female led leadership team share what being a woman in medicine means to us.


Dr. Nina GeatrakasNina Geatrakas, MD | vRad Medical Director

What does it me an for you to be a woman physician in today's world?

The opportunity to represent women as equally capable, equally intelligent, and equally driven to professional success. I believe that women in medicine help to bear the standard for all women, elevating our standing in all walks of life. I feel a responsibility to continue the work of many strong, brave women who came before me in undoing stereotypes. Each generation builds upon the successes borne out of struggles experienced by those before them. As it becomes my (baby) daughter's turn to strike out into the world, I envision that she will have more successes and fewer struggles. Whenever I have doubts, that is the dream that keeps me going.

How have women (or men) supported you in your career?

My college Anatomy & Physiology professor, Dr. Justicia Opoku-Adeusei, was a bright light in my education. She was strong, smart, and supportive. It was in her class that I fell in love with the idea of becoming a doctor.

The other women who deserve honors are my mom Beth, Aunt Sharon, and maternal grandmother Elizabeth. One of Aunt Sharon's first gifts to me was a t-shirt which said "A women's place is in the House…..and the Senate". My mother and grandmother are and were role models for believing in women's independence. I wouldn't be a physician without my mother's influence and support.

What's your advice to girls and women thinking about pursuing medicine?

Always chase your own dreams. Be certain that you are pursuing a field YOU want for a career. Do not let anyone tell you what specialty will or will not work for you based on marriage, kids, money or anything else. If you want something, let nothing stand in your way to achieve it. Some paths may be easier in ways than others, but none of that will matter if you don't bring passion to your work.



Lamoureaux_round Christine Lamoureux, MD | vRad Musculoskeletal Clinical Chief

What does it mean for you to be a woman physician in today's world?

When I think of myself as a physician, I do not immediately think of it with the qualifier "woman physician." I believe that is a good thing—I have a strong sense of equality with my male colleagues.

How have women (or men) supported you in your career?

I have been supported by several people in my career, male and female. My father told me at a young age that I could do "anything I wanted to" which was quite encouraging to me.

What's your advice to girls and women thinking about pursuing medicine?

Even though I see my professional role as a physician as no different from my male counterparts, the reality is that if/when you decide to have a family, women especially need a good plan for work/life balance.  Remember to always take good care of yourself.

How have things changed or improved for women in medicine during your career?  

I have seen women in more leadership roles, and I do not believe young women hesitate as much over considering medicine as a career based on difficulties they might perceive based on gender.  



Miller_Sloan_circleSloan Miller, MD | vRad Medical Director 

What's your advice to girls and women thinking about pursuing medicine? How have things changed or improved for women in medicine during your career?

A quick glance at recent statistics about women in medicine can paint a fairly gloomy picture: non-primary care specialties are still dominated by male physicians, a substantial majority of medical leadership positions are held by men, and multiple studies have concluded that a gender salary gap persists in many medical specialties. However, it's important to keep in mind that these statistics don't define what any one woman's medical training and career will involve, and many women physicians enjoy successful medical careers without undue hardships from gender disparities.   

Speaking from my own personal experience, I'm fortunate that I can't recall a single moment in my medical training or career when I felt disadvantaged by being a woman. Nobody ever suggested to me that I might not be qualified or otherwise appropriate for a position based on my gender—and it never occurred to me to worry that I might not get selected for a position or be hired simply because I'm a woman. Perhaps that was naivete on my part, but I think it's a reflection of the fact that I never encountered overt gender discrimination in action—which is a positive comment on how the medical world has changed for women physicians over the years. As for statistics, my medical school class (Class of 1999) consisted of more women than men, as did my radiology residency program year. And although women make up only approximately 26% of radiologists nationwide, I'm now part of vRad's medical leadership team which consists of 40% women—well above the national average.

It's important to be aware of the data on gender disparities and attuned to the possibility of encountering situations where you must speak up against such disparities, but don't allow disheartening statistics to dictate your experience, limit your goals, or drown your enthusiasm for being a woman physician. Be willing to work hard, stretch yourself, and throw your hat in the ring for opportunities—they're there for the taking, regardless of your gender. 



Sussman, Arlene 01-19Arlene Sussman, MD | vRad Medical Director, Mammography

I am a strong believer in equal opportunity. I don't think we are really there yet but we have come a long way in this regard. I knew I was at a distinct disadvantage when I was applying to medical school. Everyone doing the hiring were males in bowties donning little round spectacles. And I nothing in common with them except a love of medicine. I knew the odds were against me because of my gender. But somehow I persevered. And for that, I am eternally grateful. Someone gave me a chance to prove myself.  All I ever wanted throughout my career was an equal opportunity to excel. It didn't matter to me that I was female; I just wanted to be treated fairly and equally to anyone else seeking the same position in medicine as me.

I care more about equal opportunity than I do equal results. The commitment that everyone should be given a fair chance to develop their own special talents and to succeed to the fullest should not, in my opinion, be based on gender, race, or any form of nepotism. This is a central basis of the American dream. It is an ideal to which I continue to strive for in my current position as a thought leader and employer. When I hire someone, I remain steadfast to the ideal that if someone is the best candidate for the job then the job is theirs regardless of gender, race, color etc. Everyone ought to have an equal chance to succeed.


Author Nina Geatrakas, MD

Medical Director, vRad. Vascular Interventional Fellowship, University of California, Irvine; Musculoskeletal Radiology Fellowship, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York. Dr. Geatrakas sees her role as a clinical bridge between our radiologist practice, systems and operations, and clients. With a focus on patient well-being, she is committed to continuous vRad system growth, development and improvement. She takes pride in the excellent level of diagnostic insights we provide from the cloud, and the breadth of patients we help care for through partner facilities across the country.



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