CAEP GeMES | Fostering and Retaining Female Academics in Emergency Medicine

In Great Evidence in Medical education Summary (GEMeS) by Daniel TingLeave a Comment

Catarina is a PGY-5 resident graduating this year. Throughout her residency, she has published more academic papers and presented at more conferences than any of her peers in her residency program. She has advanced training in clinical epidemiology and self-identifies the “nerd” of the program. At the same time, she has recently married and started a family with a newborn at home. For Catarina, she would love to stay within academia but knows many of her mentors spent swaths of time away from home early in her career and is not sure how to navigate the early career stage. Furthermore, almost all the research big-wigs at her hospital are men and has never met the few who are female. 

There is no doubt that mentorship is invaluable in academic medicine. Emergency Medicine is a traditionally male-dominated speciality, and it may be harder for female physicians to find academic mentors who can relate to their specific life and career situations. This “Great Evidence in Medical education Summary” (GEMeS – pronounced “gems”) was originally posted by the CAEP EWG GEMeS Team on October 30, 2015 and answers the question: “How can we help foster and retain female academics in emergency medicine?” A PDF version of the GEMeS summary is available here.

Bottom Line

Early mentorship during residency may be a good way to foster growth in junior faculty members, especially female faculty members. Creating a community of practice with layers of individuals that can share their expertise may be key to creating a more robust academic environment.
Bhatia, K., Takayesu, J. K., Arbelaez, C., Peak, D., & Nadel, E. S. (2015). An Innovative Educational and Mentorship Program for Emergency Medicine Women Residents to Enhance Academic Development and Retention. Can J Emerg Med 17(6):685-688
Study Design
The needs-assessment portion of this innovation paper had a focus group of eight female residents and a questionnaire of female residents (75% response rate).
Funding Source
The Departments of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA
Level of Learning

Synopsis of Study

This month we feature an innovation report, something that has not yet been done by a GEMeS series summary. We hope to foster awareness of this particular type of opportunity for educational scholarship, but also to raise awareness of a strategy for mentoring female residents in their quest for academic success.

Recent studies have shown that women are underrepresented in academic positions, and this is likely due to multifactorial causes.  Mentorship has been shown, however, to be helpful in encouraging researchers (regardless of gender) to engage in academic pursuits.

Since residency is a critical and formative time, this group identified that female residents may be an important target audience for such mentorship.

This paper outlines a very useful list of topics that may be of use for educators looking to engage current or future female academics through similar mentorship or other programming. These themes span from public speaking techniques, to strategies to attain leadership positions, and to ways to optimize shift schedules to optimize a work-life balance.

Why is it relevant to Emergency Medicine Education?

The backbone of a strong academic program is the faculty.  Even representation within the ranks of academics at our teaching centres is important fostering future generations of learners to have confidence in pursuing academic programs.


In your institution, what are barriers for young physicians (male or female) to enter academia? How can we as an academic community reduce these barriers?

More About the CAEP GEMeS

This post was originally authored for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) Great Evidence in Medical Education Summaries (GEMeS) project sponsored by the CAEP Academic Section’s Education Working Group and edited by Drs. Teresa Chan and Julien Poitras. CAEP members receive GEMeS each month in the CAEP Communiqué. CanadiEM will be reposting some of these summaries, along with a case/contextualizing concept to highlight some recent medical education literature that is relevant to our nation’s teachers.


Daniel Ting

Daniel Ting is an Emergency Physician and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, based in Vancouver. He is the Editor-in-Chief of CanadiEM and a Decision Editor at the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. He completed the CanadiEM Digital Scholarship Fellowship in 2017-18. No conflicts of interest (COI).

Teresa Chan

Senior Editor at CanadiEM
Emergency Physician. Medical Educator. #FOAMed Supporter, Producer and Researcher. Chief Strategy Officer of CanadiEM. Associate Professor, Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, McMaster University.