October 13, 2022

Medical student Lucki Word wins top presentation award at Women in Medicine Summit

Wayne State University School of Medicine student Lucki Word won first-place honors at the Women in Medicine Summit for her presentation on gender differences in parental leave.

“Gender Difference in Parental Leave Usage at a Major United States Urban Institution” was named Top Oral Abstract Presentation at the annual conference, held Sept. 16-17 in Chicago.

Word presented the project, with Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Program student Maurgan Lee writing the majority of the presentation's abstract.

Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Program student Maurgan Lee was the main author on the project that won top honors for Lucki Word's delivery.

Conference organizers selected only seven abstracts to be presented at the event. Word was surprised to win, besting physicians, a postdoctoral epidemiologist and a recent undergraduate who presented a variety of topics that included mentorship during the Covid pandemic, implicit bias assessment by career stage in medical training and reproductive education for female physicians.

“Issues of parental leave affect all members of the family unit. I believe that parental leave spans more than just maternity leave, and obtaining necessary time for female employees,” Word said. “For a family unit to thrive, it is essential for both parents to have the ability to take time off. Parental leave has the ability to foster improved family bonding, health parameters, as well as enhanced workplace dynamics. Such policies have been shown to improve workplace satisfaction and increase employee advancement.”

The summit focused on professionally and personally inspiring and empowering attendees.

Lucki Word, at center, poses with her fellow presenters at the Women in Medicine Summit held Sept. 16-17 in Chicago.

“As a female medical student, who wishes to have a family of my own, I am passionate about ways upon which I can obtain the support needed to craft the life that I wish to have,” Word said. “The more I continue my journey in medicine, the more I realize how important it is to have the opportunities that can lead to the fulfillment of both my personal and professional goals. I feel as though myself, my colleagues and others in medicine deserve the adequate support to create the holistically fulfilled lives we wish to obtain.”

The project's lead investigators included WSU Professor of Pediatrics and Immediate Past Chair of the Women in Medicine and Science organization Beena Sood, M.D.; Associate Director, Academic, of Diversity and Inclusion Anil Aranha, Ph.D.; Director of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Leah Robinson, Ph.D.; and WSU Director of Human Resources Operations Julie Crego. Along with Wood and Lee, fourth-year medical student Mayra Shafique also contributed.

“By far, I feel blessed to be a part of such a supportive and informative research team,” Word said. “I've had the pleasure of learning immensely, from both my principal investigators as well as my student colleagues. It has been really refreshing being a part of a team upon which I have access to Wayne State University School of Medicine staff members who span various arenas of expertise. It's been so fascinating seeing the parameters of the parental leave data, pertaining to WSU, as a whole. I feel grateful to be a part of a team that has really encouraged me to view the data we've collected, and question how we can expand and even use our findings to hopefully improve current parental leave policies,” Word said.

Word is especially grateful to Dr. Aranha for his support.

“He sat down with me via Zoom the day of the conference and coached me through everything, as usual. Thank you for always going above and beyond,” she said.

The abstract will be featured in Healio Primary Care and published in the December 2022/January 2023 special edition issue of the International Journal of Academic Medicine.

Women in Medicine, founded in 2018 by Shika Jain, M.D., is non-profit organization dedicated to closing the inequitable gender gap in health care. The organization’s mission is to meet the challenge of inequity through education and empowerment of women in medicine with meaningful engagement of allies of all genders to combat and eliminate the gender gap.

“As a Wayne State medical student, I feel as though we are presented with a wide range of amazing opportunities and granted the ability to examine various interests we may have. I feel immensely grateful to have attended such an amazing conference, where I could hear from other females in medicine, and learn from their experiences,” Word said.

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