This female leader shares wisdom from her life in medicine

Sara Berg
Senior Staff Writer
AMA Wire
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Vineet Arora, MD, is a board-certified internist, academic hospitalist, assistant dean of scholarship and discovery, and director of GME Clinical Learning Environment and Innovation at the University of Chicago. Through her leadership roles, she bridges educational and hospital leadership to integrate residents and fellows into the quality, safety and value missions of the institution.

As a prominent female leader in medicine, Dr. Arora will be leading a webinar on Sept. 12, noon CDT, about how women can position themselves as physician leaders. She will describe common barriers faced by female physicians in obtaining leadership roles in academic medicine and medical practice and identify strategies that women in medicine can use to advance as leaders. 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ is available. Register.

The webinar is just one of the activities that will mark this September’s Women in Medicine Month, organized by the AMA Women Physicians Section. On Sept. 13, the AMA Foundation will announce the 2017 research scholarship winners of the Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women.

Dr. Arora recently  discussed her motivations for a career in medicine and her early experiences with AMA Wire®..

When asked about a moment in residency that solidified her passion for being a physician, Dr. Arora described a patient who had experienced the worst headache of his life. A year after the patient was diagnosed with a major head bleed and underwent emergent neurosurgery, he came running up to her on the street and said, “I’ll never forget you because you saved my life.”

In a separate event in residency, she received a handwritten thank-you note mailed to the hospital from the family of a patient who died from end-stage ovarian cancer, which highlighted the power of doctoring.

“Although I felt there was nothing I could do, they thanked me for being there to answer questions and support them through her final hours here,” explained Dr. Arora.

When experiencing difficult situations such as the death of a patient, she went on to say that the hardest part of working in medicine is “losing a patient and feeling like you could have done things differently.” However, to cope with this, Dr. Arora used both peer support and immersed herself in studying patient safety. 

As Dr. Arora completed her own training in medical school, she remained motivated because she was “lucky to have enthusiastic, kind and generous residents who always made time to teach or just pal around even in the face of very difficult patient challenges.”

When asked what her source of inspiration is, she stated that she draws inspiration from many things around her, including her patients, colleagues and trainees. She is also inspired by innovators in diverse sectors who strive to make things better. But if she were to name a single person, it would be her brother. 

“If I had to say my inspiration for entering medicine, it would be my brother who has defied the odds and persevered through his disabilities,” she said.

Dr. Arora said she hopes the future of medicine can produce the professional health workforce needed to best serve the nation’s health needs. She is now principal investigator of an AMA-funded Accelerating Change in Medical Education grant to augment training in health care delivery sciences, including quality, safety and value for medical students at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. 

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