Female Faculty Share Healthcare Journeys, Provide Tips for Students: Part Three

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September 28, 2023 | Midwestern University

The faculty members sharing their slices of their wisdom from left to right are Ms. Edwards, Dr. Kroleski, Dr. Wang, and Dr. Wright.

In honor of Women in Medicine Month, four Midwestern University faculty members from both campuses reflected on their experiences and offered advice for female students pursuing healthcare careers. The faculty members include Sheila Wang, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCIDP, Professor, Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, and Parres Wright, O.D., FAAO, Associate Professor, Chicago College of Optometry from the Downers Grove Campus, and Janna Kroleski, D.P.M., Assistant Professor, Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine, and Sharon Edwards, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinical Assistant Professor, Speech-Language Pathology, from the Glendale Campus. This is the third article in a four-part series. Look for more coming soon.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in your profession? What impacted you the most?

Dr. Wang: “Growing up as a second-generation Korean American, my perception of a healthcare professional was limited to a physician or nurse, with some elders encouraging me to be a nurse because I was a girl. As first-generation Asian Americans, pharmacy was foreign to my parents and their circle of friends when I first introduced it as a career option. Over the years, my parents (and their friends) have seen me grow in my career and have witnessed my accomplishments. As a result, they have a better understanding of what a Doctorate in Pharmacy means and what a pharmacist can do as a healthcare provider today. There is an ongoing effort for educators like me to model and support professional identity formation for our pharmacy learners today and improve the message of who pharmacists are and what they can do. Their role is highly versatile and diverse among the healthcare community.”

Dr. Wright: “Sometimes, the challenge is being heard. You may be the only woman in the room. You may be the only one of your cultural background. I have faced that in my career, being the only woman at the table, lecturing, or in similar situations. I have had patients refuse to see me because I am a woman. I have had patients refuse to see me because I am a minority. I developed a script to get through those situations with patients. As an educator, I have female students. I teach them, but it’s also important that they understand people may look at them differently. People may say things to them that they may never say to a male doctor. For practitioners coming up now, you do have to prepare them for those kinds of things. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.”

Dr. Kroleski: "I had a very positive experience during my training and in my career. There were a few isolated incidents of male attendings treating me differently because I was a woman, but fortunately, they were few and far-between. I believe my biggest challenge was, again, finding that balance between being a mother and a busy surgeon."

Ms. Edwards: "I had one specific experience where a male doctor crossed some physical boundaries with me and other female staff. At the time, I didn’t feel comfortable or know what to say, or even if others would consider it wrong – but I was certainly uncomfortable since I worked directly with him. Looking back, I wish I had said something. Since that time, the dialogue surrounding such issues has changed and that kind of behavior would not be accepted today. Policies have been put into place to make women feel safer in the work environment. Everyone is aware of the policies, and they are required to complete yearly education, so I am hopeful that these things are not happening as much. If they are, they can safely be reported."