This September we are featuring six of Winship's women healthcare professionals for Women in Medicine Month. We have asked them to share their perspectives on working at Winship and what their careers have been like as women in medicine.
Keerthi Gogineni, MD, MSHP, is associate professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology of Emory University School of Medicine; director for education of fellows and residents in the Grady Health System; associate director of the Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship Program; and co-vice chair of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology of Emory University School of Medicine.
Do you see Winship as a place where women are supported and can advance in their careers?
Definitely. When I joined Winship in 2015, the section of breast oncology was undergoing a significant amount of change in staffing and leadership. That was a daunting way to begin, but the vacuum also presented opportunities to engage and collaborate. My colleagues were supportive and cognizant of the initial challenges, and I found that my department and division leadership were open and extremely accessible.
What was your "road to promotion" like (hopefully it wasn’t rocky!)?
I will be honest, the road to promotion has been long. The process and metrics differ across institutions and it is complex. After completing fellowship, I began as an instructor at Penn. That role came with pros and cons. It allowed for protected time to secure research funding and publish and take care of patients, without "starting the clock" on promotion. The downside is that the work one is doing is not necessarily going to count towards promotion in a different institution. After arriving at Winship, that clock essentially restarted. The promotion process at Emory has felt much more methodical. The domains in which one is expected to demonstrate excellence are clearly outlined and allow for one to focus while maintaining breadth.
Do you have advice for other women physicians early in their career?
When you are first starting out, it is easy to say "yes" to whatever opportunities come your way. Sometimes that leads to relationships and collaborations that can be fruitful. But you have to be mindful about how each activity or role fits into the bigger puzzle. Does this make sense with the general direction you see yourself moving towards, your research/clinical/teaching interests? You want your CV to tell a story or narrative that makes sense. I’d also tell young women physicians to be active in building relationships and networks that lead to opportunities within (both in the division and school) and beyond the institution. It is key for promotion but perhaps more importantly, helps you meet like-minded mentors and colleagues.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you have learned since then?
Coming out of fellowship, I wish that I'd had a better understanding of academic medicine's promotion process. I also would have told my younger self that identifying mentors and advocates is instrumental at every step of training and in your career.
Dr. Gogineni is committed to caring for patients with breast cancer and conducting research that evaluates and improves access to oncology care for disenfranchised patients. (Photo taken pre-pandemic.)