CIR is a Big Tent

sepidehI’m very proud to have my inaugural President’s Report appear in this issue of CIR Vitals focusing on women in medicine and the diverse and energized leadership that we need to help improve residency training and transform our ailing healthcare system. CIR is the ‘big tent’ under which we can achieve many great things.

First, I’d like to tell you a little about myself. I’m a Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellow at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, where I completed my residency in Internal Medicine and also served as chief resident. I was fortunate to join CIR as an intern and I haven’t looked back. I was part of the amazing  team that negotiated CIR’s first ever Quality Improvement collaboration with our hospital. That contract language produced a hospital-wide project on medication reconciliation that resulted in improved patient care and poster and journal publication!

For the past three years, I have served on the CIR Executive Committee, working with my colleagues  through a process that defined CIR’s core values of advocacy, service, community and learning. Those values have really influenced our priorities and programs this year.  I’ve been proud of our advocacy efforts for our patients, our safety net hospitals, and our service to the community. We have devoted energy to building a community among residents in the hospital and beyond. And we continue to promote learning through conferences, QI initiatives, and teach-ins on the ACA and other policy issues.

We are striving to unite residents for a stronger voice to build a more just and effective healthcare system. And we’re focusing on new organizing. Since so many residents outside our hospitals also share CIR’s values, it’s time we welcome them into our community and see what we can accomplish as we continue to capitalize on the fact we are the largest house staff organization in the country.

CIR also wants to give our members the opportunity to develop into leaders – and that means all our members. When the challenges facing women in medicine come up in our meetings, there are some recurring themes. Most women can recount being called “nurse” by someone on their first day of work (and many times after that). Physicians of color report similar experiences. There’s a culture in hospitals that makes it easier for male physicians to  automatically be accepted and advance in the profession.

My own experience was no different – it was just accepted that you had to go through a couple of months of proving yourself in order to be accepted.  If you showed any emotion during those trying times, you would lose ground.

When we share our experiences as women in medicine, it opens the door for underrepresented minorities in our profession to speak up as well, and encourages all of us to call out harassment and discrimination when we see it. By doing this we can start the culture change that will make medicine a profession where we all have a voice.

CIR is a big tent under which all of us can learn and thrive – welcome!

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