Women Faculty Lead by Example in Internal Medicine Residency Program

Andrea Soares, MD after presenting at Medicine Grand Rounds

Women in Medicine Month, sponsored annually by the American Medical Association during September, provides an ideal opportunity to recognize the women faculty leaders and programs geared toward women faculty and trainees within the Internal Medicine Residency Program. There are a variety of educational tracks and resource programs available to all internal medicine residents, many led by women faculty. And, in the academic medicine world where women have been traditionally underrepresented in leadership roles, the Department of Medicine Internal Medicine Residency women faculty provide a unique and relevant example, serving not only as educators but role models to women residents within the program.

Andrea Soares, MD, is a current third-year resident whose medical education and training experiences within the Department of Medicine have been heavily influenced by women faculty. “As a medical student, Megan Wren, MD was my Practice of Medicine instructor and later my associate program director in residency,” recalls Soares. “Then, I started my residency with two female cardiology attending physicians, Linda Peterson, MD and Homaa Ahmad, MD. Less than 20% of cardiologists in the United States are women right now, however the strong female mentorship across the department made me feel like cardiology was very accepting of women.”

During her residency, Soares also participated in the Washington University Teaching Physician Pathway (WUTPP), a program that prepares residents to become clinician-educators. Throughout the program, Soares was closely mentored by internal medicine residency program associate program directors Patricia Kao, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and WUTPP Director and Amber Deptola, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine.

While maintaining the rigor of resident training, Soares joined the Forum for Women in Medicine and became an active committee member of this unique program targeted to female fellows and residents within the department. The Forum for Women in Medicine or FWIM was created within the Department of Medicine in 2014 to provide professional development opportunities for women fellows and residents. Since its inception, Rakhee Bhayani, MD, associate professor of medicine and associate program director, has served as the Forum’s director, organizing programming to provide career development guidance, facilitate mentoring opportunities and foster a sense of camaraderie for women trainees. “I was inspired to develop FWIM to ensure that female trainees have a place to truly foster their professional and personal development surrounded by other women who are facing similar needs and challenges,” reflected Bhayani. “FWIM provides many of the resources and opportunities that I wish had been available to me during my own residency. With FWIM, residents like Andrea Soares have an environment to explore issues that are unique to women growing their careers in medicine.”

Soares has taken advantage of all that FWIM has to offer, even intermingling her FWIM involvement and her WUTPP training. Serving as a FWIM committee member, Soares has coordinated workshops on negotiation skills and Zoom video interviewing. Now, Soares has merged her WUTPP research project and FWIM membership into research about growth and fixed mindsets of residents and how mindset influences personal stereotyped threat perception. Both Drs. Bhayani and Dr. Kao have worked with Soares to help expand her research with this project. 

Dominique Cosco, MD, associate professor of medicine and program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program, emphasizes how impactful women faculty can be for residents like Soares. “Gender equity is becoming a reality in our department today. It certainly provides more role models for our female trainees and medical students regarding careers in academic medicine.”

Soares agrees with Cosco. “Without my female mentors and program support, I wouldn’t have felt as empowered as I have during my residency at WashU,” comments Soares. “I feel like I can do it all. I can do research, my clinical duties as a future cardiologist, and medical education.  I feel I can truly shape my own destiny now because of the wonderful female role models I have had.”

Internal Medicine Residency Program: Women Leaders

  • Dominique Cosco, MD, FACP: Associate Professor of Medicine; Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program
  • Amber Deptola, MD: Assistant Professor of Medicine; Associate Program Director; Assistant Director Teaching Physician Pathway
  • Emily Fondahn, MD: Associate Professor of Medicine; Associate Program Director; BJH Patient Safety and Quality Physical Liaison
  • Patricia Kao, MD, MS: Associate Professor of Medicine; Associate Program Director; Director, Washington University Teaching Physician Pathway (WUTPP)
  • Caline Mattar, MD: Assistant Professor of Medicine; Associate Program Director; Director, Global Health Scholars Pathway in Internal Medicine
  • Jennifer Schmidt, MD: Assistant Professor of Medicine; Director, Primary Care Residency Track; Director, Complete Care Clinic
  • Megan Wren, MD: Professor of Medicine; Associate Program Director
  • Rakhee Bhayani, MD: Associate Professor of Medicine; Associate Program Director; Director of Forum for Women in Medicine, Co-Leader Balance in Medicine program
  • Carol Faulk, MD: Instructor in Medicine; Co-leader Balance in Medicine program