November 8, 2019

Wayne State pilots American Medical Women’s Association national IGNITE program

Wayne State University is one of three sites selected to pilot a new national program developed by female physicians to provide female medical students with skills and resources to help prevent burnout and conquer the challenges faced by women in medicine throughout their careers.

The American Medical Women's Association School of Medicine student chapter hosted its first IGNITE event on Oct. 10, 2019 with presentation and panel discussion on reproductive health planning.

The American Medical Women’s Association School of Medicine student chapter is led by President Emma Drenth and Vice President Akanksha Vaishnav, and supported by faculty advisor and WSU Professor of Internal Medicine Diane Levine, M.D.

The Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Creighton University-Arizona will also host IGNITE pilots. ​The IGNITE program, founded and developed by Mayo Clinic Associate Professor of Medicine Julia Files, M.D., has received formal approval to be a sponsored national program of AMWA and will be implemented at medical schools across the country in years to come.

“As we investigated, it became clear that Wayne State had an outstanding AMWA chapter with a good presence on campus and excellent leadership from the faculty and students. We were very impressed by the number of events they were hosting and the coffee talks. In the end it seemed like a great match and opportunity to have a successful pilot,” Dr. Files said.

The School of Medicine’s student chapter of AMWA hosted its first IGNITE event, on reproductive life planning, on Oct. 10.

“The challenges that women face in medicine as they progress through their careers need to be better addressed. Per Dr. Files, 2018 and 2019 heralded a new era, as for the first time the number of women applying and entering medical school exceeded the number of men,” Vaishnav said. “IGNITE's curriculum will be addressing the issues women face that are not addressed in a traditional medical school curriculum. The first presentation on reproductive life planning is a perfect example of an issue that is very important to women and impacts career plans disproportionately for women compared to men. Everyone should have a reproductive life plan, but the specifics of the plan (timing of pregnancy, maternity leave, age at time of first and last pregnancy) are most impactful for women.”

Presenters included Dr. Files and physician mothers Dr. Levine; Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Claire Pearson, M.D.; and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences Anju Goyal, M.D.

“It was a huge success and was attended by more than 80 medical students, including women and men,” Vaishnav said. “We plan on hosting two more IGNITE events this year, with possible topics being burnout and resilience, sexual harassment/gender discrimination, and hormonal influences on career and performance.”

Dr. Pearson will help facilitate IGNITE events at WSU and develop the academic arm of the program, eventually mentoring students in the process of conducting research and writing academic papers.

The pilot phase will refine presentations, clarify topics and assess the challenges and opportunities facing young women in medical school.

“As pilot students at Wayne State, we will be working closely with the IGNITE leadership team to organize the presentations and assist in collecting feedback. We will participate as members of the governing structure of IGNITE as they anticipate expanding the program to other sites,” Vaishnav said.