UIHC honors women’s achievements with month of celebration

Doctors, researchers, nurses, and more women celebrate Women in Medicine month in September, sharing experiences on being a woman in today’s medical field.


Katie Goodale

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as seen on Sept 17, 2018.

Maddie McCarron, News Reporter

University of Iowa Health Care has joined a national celebration to recognize the accomplishments of women in medicine.

The American Medical Association celebrates women in the field for the month of September to recognize their work in patient care, research, and women’s health advocacy. The association reported in 2018 that women make up 45.6 percent of active residents training for medical professions. 

Ophthalmology Clinical Assistant Professor Erin Boese said the best part of the month is that UI women in medicine feel encouraged by their colleagues and are surrounded with a positive environment. 

“I feel very supported as a woman in medicine,” Boese said. “I think it is a wonderful thing. Anytime you can highlight the good that is going on, the better.” 

Boese also said she doesn’t think of herself as a “woman in medicine.” When she’s on the job, her main priority is that she does her job to the best of her abilities. 

“My goal every day is to be the best that I can, but I think looking around me and realizing that in a field where it might be predominantly men, other generations can look up to me and my female mentors and co-workers,” she said. 

In the same sense, Boese said, she believes it is important to have diversity and inclusion in the medical fields. 

“In any field, I think it is really important to have diversity and people with different backgrounds when caring for patients,” she said. “It is also important for future generations to see strong women in medicine. There have been barriers broken down, but there is a long way to go to make sure that women are recognized equally.”  

UI Surgery Clinical Assistant Professor Lillian Erdahl agreed with Boese, saying that while there have been victories for women in medicine, there is room for improvement. 

“I think in spite of the fact that we’ve made a lot of progress for gender equality, we still have salary gaps in the medical field and leadership gaps for women physicians,” Erdahl said. 

Erdahl said she had never thought about how being a woman could play a part in her career-making process. 

“It’s interesting, because I didn’t go into medicine thinking I was a woman doctor, but it became very clear when I was a medical student considering [specializing in] surgery,” she added. “People told me don’t do surgery because then you’ll have children, and you won’t be able to do it.” 

Despite what others told Erdahl, she still pursued surgery. Being in the medical field is a very rewarding part of being a woman, UI nursing student Haley Hoffmann said. 

“I think it’s our opportunity to be strong and stand up for ourselves,” she said. “I feel like our generation is changing, and a lot more women are a lot more confident in themselves and standing up for each other. It makes me happy.”

However, Hoffmann said she credits her will and strength to continue on her career path of becoming a nurse to the support of her family. 

“I would be nowhere without [my family],” she said. “They reinforce to me that I can do whatever I want and to not ever doubt myself, and I think that’s important for other young women to keep in mind, too.”