UAB Medicine News


Women in Medicine Share Words of Wisdom

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ensures the right to vote for all U.S. citizens irrespective of their sex. The day also provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements women have made, and continue to make, toward workplace equality and career advancement.

The following UAB Medicine leaders, each of whom spoke at the recent Women’s Leadership Conference, offer considerable insight about components of professional success, such as career direction, mentorship, and support networks. Below are some key points taken from what they have learned as women in medicine:

Stephanie Woods MSN, RN, NE-BC, LSSGB, associate chief nursing officer

Stephanie Woods
  • Embrace what you think you cannot do. Press the mute button on the negative voice in your head and take a gamble on yourself.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff. For me, this means focusing on things I can positively impact and not allowing the negative aspects to prevent me from being and giving my best at all times.
  • Don't take things personally. Not taking things personally gives you more control over your responses, your emotions, and energy level. 





Cheri L. Canon, MD, FACR, professor and Witten-Stanley Endowed Chair of Radiology

Cheri Canon
  • Be outwardly focused and sponsor other women whenever possible. 
  • Be fearless and manage through the insecurities of leading. 








Christy Lemak, PhD, professor and chair of Health Services Administration

Christy Lemak, PhD
  • Careers are not ladders but labyrinths. You don’t always proceed in a simple, linear fashion. Sometimes, in order to move “up” in health care, you will find yourself taking a direction that is different from the path you imagined, or you may need to get experience in an area outside of your current one.
  • I wish I would have stopped questioning myself earlier. This is more than (and different from) lacking confidence. There is evidence that women leaders spend time “ruminating” about what they could have or should have done differently – or whether or not they are “good enough” for the next job or promotion – while men typically will just go for it.
  • Leadership is about supporting and developing others. There are myths about women being harder on other women. That may have been true years ago, when few women achieved the top levels of leadership. Today, women are being promoted to the highest levels in health care leadership, largely because they are supported by other women above them, below them, and – often most importantly – next to them in the organization.

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