Women in oncology at the Mass General Cancer Center have made many critical contributions and advancements to the field over the years. In this Q&A, Therese Mulvey, MD, Nancy Tarbell, MD, and Marcia J. Browne, MD share more about their career journeys and advice for the next generation.
Women in Oncology
Explore the Women in Oncology group
Breaking Down Barriers and Building Connections
Our mission is to develop a sense of community where women across the Mass General Cancer Center (in both clinical and research arenas) and our satellite network can find a sense of belonging, purpose, shared values, and truly support each other over the course of a career.
The group includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, researchers, fellows, and medicine subspecialists that care for our patients from across Mass General and our network sites. Many events are open invite to our fellow RNs, NPs, and administrators across our Cancer Center.
The Women in Oncology (WIO) group offers a diverse array of events and programming, and areas of focus include:
- Building a culture of connectedness
- Leadership Skills
- Fostering Collaboration
- Recognizing Excellence (Award Nominations)
- Empowering One Another
Building Connections Since 2017
With more than 40 events since our launch in 2017, the WIO group has created many opportunities for our members to connect. The importance of these connections are even more relevant now. Women’s careers have been disproportionately affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, as career trajectories were hindered and burnout levels increased. In a global Medscape survey physician burnout rose from 48% to 51% for women and remained unchanged at 36% for men. This indicates that there continues to be a discrepancy worth focus, and creating initiatives to support women physicians is more important now than ever.
Our past events have focused on opportunities to connect with one another, support one another, learn, and grow together. The WIO group has been awarded two consecutive Massachusetts General Physicians Organization (MGPO) Frigoletto Committee Uplift Grants which allowed the group to move beyond community and connection, and also offer programming focused on leadership skills development, crucial for the support of women physicians. WIO also partners with the MGH Center for Physician Well-Being to support, plan, and evaluate programming.
Moving the Needle
Strong ties and community are critical to physician engagement. Metrics were included in the 4-part leadership training program we offered, and significant return was demonstrated:
- 82% of participants noted a large increase in their commitment to career growth
- 67% of participants reported improved strategic thinking
- 61% felt they improved in results oriented thinking
- 49% were willing to take risks to improve their careers
In addition, the qualitative feedback was equally meaningful, indicating individuals feel a strong sense of community, value, and support by participating in the Women in Oncology group. Importantly, one the of strongest themes in the qualitative feedback centered around the joy of working closely with each other in small groups and learning from one another.
Thanks to the second MGPO Uplift grant, we are pleased to be offering more leadership workshops in 2022. Our upcoming programming is committed to supporting, sponsoring and connecting women physicians across Mass General Cancer Center.
Letter to a Young Female Physician
A conversation with the WIO group and Suzanne Koven, MD, author of "Letter to a Young Female Physician”.
Twice a Week Peloton Rides
WIO that ride together, stick together. 6 AM “high fives” all around.
Shamrockin’ Run 5k
WIO members celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by participating in the Shamrockin’ Run 5k.
Outdoor rooftop summer social for WIO members
Supporting WIO Marathoners
WIO members cheer on the sidelines for fellow group members who ran the Boston Marathon.
Lead In: Women of Impact in Health Care
WIO hosted a virtual event featuring Vivian S Lee MD, PhD, MBA, President of Health Platforms at Verily Life Sciences, to discuss taking career risks.
Teaming Across Your Organization To Build A Better Future
The WIO group hosted a dinner event with Amy Edmondson, author and the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School.
Success Strategies for Life and Career
WIO event at MGH featuring executive coach Allison Rimm who spoke about "Success Strategies for Life and Career."
WIO has hosted multiple virtual, interactive paint nights for members led by artist Lauren Perron.
"Burn Boot Camp" class for the WIO group.
Lecia Sequist, MD
"The Women in Oncology group is by far the most meaningful way that I interact with my colleagues at Mass General Cancer Center outside of direct patient care...
I have developed so many rich relationships through this group and being a part of this group over multiple years has provided a unique and fulfilling space to share my own experiences, and to help and support others."
Rachel Rosovsky, MD
"The leadership program opened my eyes to so many barriers that I did not know existed. Those realizations have helped me use the strengths I have as a leader to develop programs and collaborations...
that can ultimately benefit patients and move our field forward. The friendships I developed from those intimate sessions and all of the other programs have continued to be a source of motivation and encouragement for me, both personally and professionally. I am in awe of the women in this group, and I look forward to many other opportunities to grow and support each other."
Paige Walsh, MD
"I value the Women in Oncology group because it provides an opportunity for connection with colleagues who I may not have otherwise met as someone working in the satellite in an environment of support...
and common ground. By networking in the WIO group I have been able to make personal connections with other physicians that then facilitated referrals into Boston for clinical trials and consultations, and I think this is improving the quality of care I provide."
Becky Zon, MD
"The Women in Oncology group is one of my favorite things about training at MGH. It has been an amazing way to get to know my colleagues and be able to learn from each other.. We are able to lift each other up and challenge each other...
to reach our goals. As a fellow, I feel so grateful to get to be in a group with attendings who I admire so much. Being in a group with such inspirational individuals has been truly wonderful."
Becky Zon, MD
Lipika Goyal, MD
"Thank you so much for creating this space for women oncology faculty to come together to reflect on shared experiences. It’s helpful to exchange strategies with other women about tackling common issues faced in the workplace...
Additionally, the connections built in this group have led to many professional opportunities including talks, invitations, and sharing of materials for grants and academic promotion. The 'All Girls Network' certainly has its perks!"
Aparna Parikh, MD
"The Women in Oncology group in many ways has been a mini lifeline during my tenure at MGH. There is sense of such tremendous camaraderie, support and a commitment to amplify that is powerful...
I look forward to all the events and to be in a group of women that just get it, especially in this pandemic year, has been so important for my own mental well-being."
Meghan Sise, MD
"Our leadership training began in the middle of the pandemic, when I, like many others, felt as if I was just treading water. Though my research work was progressing I had been focused on the day-to-day task execution and not the vision...
Through the leadership course, I was able to rise up from that state of 'merely treading water' and realize that I needed to step away from my task-oriented approaches to singularly focusing on applying for independent funding. A few months after the program, I submitted an R01 application. I am extremely grateful for the leadership training program that helped provide the clarity of purpose needed to take that next step."
Amy Comander, MD
"During the challenging time of the pandemic, I have been incredibly grateful for the support and camaraderie of my colleagues, who are also friends. While we have not been able to “see” each other in person as much in the hospital or clinic...
we have been fortunate to have frequent virtual 'meet ups' and gatherings through the monthly Women in Oncology events. These sessions over the past year have provided us with the opportunity to connect and bond with each other and maintain a sense of community. The social connection provided by the Women in Oncology group has helped me feel closer and more supported by my colleagues, and this has certainly improved my emotional well-being."
Uma Narayanasami, MD
"Without these events, it would be very hard for network physicians such as myself to connect with faculty at the main campus or other network sites I work with some of these women faculty in Boston on a regular basis...
(refer patients for opinions, clinical trials, share patients) because of my connections through the Women in Oncology group. These WIO events are an important outlet for us women, for our wellbeing and emotional health, combating burnout, work life balance, etc. I hope to see this network grow and thrive."
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Creating A Positive Workplace Culture
"It was my hope we could bring women together from across all areas of our Cancer Center, develop impactful relationships, and support one another along this career’s winding journey. Through the ups and the downs we will have each other and there will always be a safe space here." - Kerry Reynolds, MD