Drs. Kelly & Thompson begin prestigious fellowship for women leaders
Pediatric professors honored as fellows of the Hedwig Van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Medicine Program
May 4, 2021 — For UF Health pediatrics professors Maria N. Kelly, M.D., and Lindsay A. Thompson, M.D., medicine was always a career certainty. For years, they have embraced the special challenges of academic medicine — treating patients, publishing research and teaching medical students.
Now, they have another career arc unfolding: an intensive, prestigious fellowship that prepares women for leadership roles in the health professions. As part of the Hedwig Van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Medicine Program, or ELAM, Kelly and Thompson will spend a year honing their leadership skills and learning from colleagues and mentors.
The program, hosted by the Drexel University College of Medicine, selects about 60 female fellows a year with an eye toward those who show the most promise for leadership posts at academic medical centers.
Kelly and Thompson sought out the ELAM fellowship for many of the same reasons.
“This opportunity will allow me to forge new relationships across additional disciplines. I also appreciate how I will be encouraged to reflect on my leadership behaviors and develop new skills to address challenges and issues within my own institution,” said Kelly, a professor and program director in the Department of Pediatrics.
As a professor of pediatrics and health outcomes and biomedical informatics, Thompson’s responsibilities include being a clinical scientist who collaborates with and supports other researchers’ work. While distinguishing herself in that role, Dr. Thompson said her next career steps sometimes seemed undefined. ELAM will help to focus that, she said.
Among other things, ELAM participants learn more about leadership aspects that aren’t part of medical school curriculum or early-career development: resource management, strategic finance and organizational dynamics. In addition, both Kelly and Thompson said the appeal and benefits of ELAM are also very people centric. They expect to learn much from their peers and mentors during the one-year fellowship.
As Thompson heard more about ELAM from one of its alumnae, her interest kept growing.
“It’s a group of women you can rely on as a sounding board for ideas, and for ways to think through solutions to complex problems,” Thompson said.
ELAM fellows are also required to develop an institutional action project. The project is meant to foster the fellow’s leadership skills while also addressing an organizational goal or need. While their plans are still in development, Thompson said she wants to focus on encouraging more clinicians — especially women and underrepresented minorities — to participate in research in ways that benefit both themselves and UF Health. Kelly said she hopes to work on finding new ways to support female physicians and help them grow their careers. She is considering proposing a mentoring model that would pair senior faculty members with junior female faculty in order to provide detailed, focused career guidance.
Mentoring was very important for Kelly early in her career — something she has never forgotten.
“If we can create a solid foundation for other junior women faculty members, I think that’s extremely important and valuable to the UF community,” she said.
The ELAM fellowship also puts Thompson and Kelly in good company. Eleven current and emeritus faculty members are alumnae of the program and a twelfth fellow is in the 2021 class. Nine of them hold the titles of dean, associate dean, department chair or associate chair across the UF Health Science Center.
Sonal S. Tuli, M.D., a professor and chair of the department of ophthalmology, is a member of the ELAM class of 2016. The training she got from ELAM — such as how to acquire resources to meet goals and financial management techniques — have proven very useful in her role as chair. But the enduring relationships Tuli made, on and off campus, during the fellowship have been just as valuable, she said. Even after five years, her peer group of six ELAM alumnae and their group mentor are in touch almost every week to offer advice and support to each other. Her ELAM action project focused on the current status and future goals of women’s leadership and advancement that stimulated dialogue about gender equity at the UF College of Medicine.
Tuli, who was the only female chair of a UF Health clinical department at the time of her 2015 promotion, credits ELAM with helping her thrive in that role.
“Being able to connect with women who are your peers, mentors and role models is an exceptional opportunity,” Tuli said. “It creates a community that has become a long-term resource for me.”
For Thompson, earning the ELAM fellowship got her thinking about the idea that solid managerial skills and outstanding leadership skills are not always one and the same. ELAM, she said, can draw out the best of both worlds.
“This program really focuses on bringing talented women to the next level,” she said.
UF Health’s ELAM alumnae
A look at UF faculty members who have completed or are enrolled in the ELAM fellowship program:
Jennifer Bizon, Ph.D., professor and chair, department of neuroscience, College of Medicine (2021)
Martha E. Brown, M.D., associate professor, department of psychiatry, College of Medicine (2006)
Linda Cottler, Ph.D., dean’s professor and associate dean for research, department of epidemiology, colleges of Medicine and Public Health & Health Professions (2007)
Brenda Fahy, M.D., professor and associate chair for faculty affairs and professional development, department of anesthesiology, College of Medicine (2006)
Susan Frost, Ph.D., professor emeritus, department of biochemistry and molecular biology, College of Medicine (1997)
Collen Koch, M.D., dean, College of Medicine and professor, department of anesthesiology (2012)
Carol Mathews, M.D., professor, department of psychiatry, College of Medicine (2016)
Maureen Novak, M.D., professor, department of pediatrics, College of Medicine (2010)
Tara Sabo-Attwood, PhD, associate dean, professor and chair, department of environmental health, College of Public Health & Health Professions (2018)
Elizabeth Shenkman, Ph.D., professor and chair, department of health outcomes & biomedical informatics, College of Medicine (2014)
Sonal Tuli, M.D.,M.Ed. professor and chair, department of ophthalmology, College of Medicine (2016)
Ellen Zimmerman, M.D., professor and associate dean for faculty affairs & professional development, department of medicine, College of Medicine (2018)
Note: List includes those who completed ELAM fellowships prior to joining UF.