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.
A physician-scientist, Lisa Sudmeier, MD, PhD, is co-chief medical resident in Winship Cancer Institute's Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Sudmeier has earned several awards in her brief career including an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Young Investigator Award, a Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Research and Education Grant, two Nell W. and William Simspon Elkin Fellowships, and has been accepted into the prestigious American Board of Radiology B. Leonard Holman Research Pathway.
Do you see Winship as a place where women are supported and can advance in their careers?
Yes! My female mentors have been productive and successful; seeing them be promoted indicates to me that this is a place where academic women can thrive. The Women in Winship Committee, led by Drs. Kristin Higgins, Madhusmita Behera and Ragi Kudchadkar, is another example of the institutional support at Winship. Leadership has reached out to this committee for input on how Winship can better address issues that disproportionately affect female faculty and staff, and then followed up on those recommendations and made meaningful changes.
What was your "road to promotion" like (hopefully it wasn't rocky!)?
I am currently a radiation oncology resident, and therefore have not been in the position to be promoted. I am, however, on the physician-scientist job market now.
Do you have advice for other women physicians early in their career?
If you're going to be working in a field or on a research program for the rest of your life, find a niche that excites you and gives purpose to your professional goals.
From a physician-scientist perspective, the professional trajectory is definitely a marathon. It helps to focus on short-term goals, but always keep the long-term plan in mind.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you have learned since then?
I was always very worried about how having a family would affect my career. After dedicating so many years to my professional training (the MD/PhD road is LONG), I worried mostly that my research program would suffer when I had a family. Although it has definitely made some things harder, I've found that the joy of having a child overshadows much of the struggle.
Watching my daughter grow inspires me. I see the tenacity with which she tries, over and over again, to learn things—like how put her shoes on by herself—and I try to embody that persistence and can-do attitude in my own work.
I think that if there's something you really want in your personal life—be it to have a family, pursue a hobby or volunteer opportunity, or something else—if it brings you meaning and personal fulfillment, then the impact on your career can be less jarring.
Dr. Sudmeier is a resident physician-scientist studying brain immuno-oncology. She hopes her work will lead to improved therapies for the treatment of brain metastases.