On Wednesday, March 1, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and SinaiArts co-hosted an event called “Superwomen in White Coats: What Does the Coat Mean to You?” Donning a white coat is an immense privilege. With it comes authority, dignity, and a great sense of responsibility.
We were first handed a stark white coat upon entering medical school, one of the many white coats that we will continue to wear for the entirety of our long and fulfilling careers as physicians. No matter how stained or discolored it gets, our white coat serves as a symbol of the great work we will do as physicians. As women in medicine, the white coat holds a special significance: it acts as a superwoman’s cape.
Inspired by the power of the white coat and the unique challenge of being a female physician in today’s society, the ISMMS chapter of AMWA and SinaiArts wanted to give their peers and colleagues a chance to design a white coat with what it means to them. The initiative was part of a wider AMWA national competition among medical school chapters to inspire creativity and thought.
Dr. Staci Leisman, the Course Director for the Human Physiology course, was the main speaker at the event. She described her experiences as a woman in medicine including her time as a resident, a pregnant fellow (in an especially funny moment, she recounted her search for pudding cups on every hospital floor during her pregnancy), and now attending physician and mother. In her current everyday job, she does everything from helping patients with end stage kidney disease to teaching the next generation of physicians. She also discussed the unfair discrimination that women may face in the workplace but spoke positively about the future of medicine for female physicians.
Attendees were then asked to decorate a white coat, generously donated by ISMMS’ Department of Medical Education. Using colorful markers, attendees covered the coat with inspirational quotes, anatomical drawings, and symbols of strength and optimism.
The white coat will be on display in the Annenberg Atrium until March 16, and is open to the public to decorate. (Markers, pencils, and pens can be found in the coat pocket!) Afterward, photos will be taken of the finished coat and submitted to AMWA’s national competition. The top five schools will be invited to bring their coats to the National Conference on March 31 and also be displayed in a public art gallery on the AMWA and Doctors Who Create (DWC) websites.
Find out more information about the national public art movement and competition:
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Brittany Glassberg is a first-year MD student with an interest in women and children’s health. She grew up in New York, and studied neuroscience at Duke University. At the Icahn School of Medicine, she is involved in AMWA, clinical research, and the childlife volunteer program.
Sayeeda Chowdhury is a first-year MD/MPH student with an interest in human rights, social justice, and women’s health. She is a co-leader of AMWA, Muslim Students Association, the Human Rights and Social Justice Program, and volunteers as a Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention (SAVI) Advocate.
Aishwarya Raja is a first-year MD student with an interest in women’s health, teaching, and entrepreneurship. She co-leads AMWA and the Medical Spanish program, and volunteers as a MedDocs tutor. She is also the co-founder of CatheCare, a medical device startup.
Slavena Salve Nissan is a first-year medical student and an aspiring physician-writer who can never have too many love poems in her life. She is the student leader of Sinai Arts, a contributor for the AAMC’s Aspiring Docs Diaries, and a medical student editor for in-Training.