Women In NEOMED (WIN) Group Shares Progress Updates

The Women in NEOMED (WiN) employee resource group met recently via Zoom video conference for its  quarterly meeting. The group’s members enjoyed a less formal, “no agenda” meeting so they could share positive conversation on what they have accomplished or seen being accomplished during this unprecedented pandemic.

Members spoke on topics such as what work may look like when we return; flexibility being the key to NEOMED’s success in remaining open as a university; and providing access to learning, teaching, and working continuity.

Jackie Boyle, Pharm.D., reported that the College of Pharmacy is staying connected with fun, non-work-related activities. In addition, she spoke on the SOAR Student-Run Free Clinic and how the students and providers converted encounters to all telehealth to provide care to those underserved community members – especially  those who may have lost their job and health benefits because of the pandemic.

Rebecca German, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and neurobiology, stated that she enjoys running her lab from her apartment, where she has a window view that makes her happy. In addition, she provided Information on National Institutes of Health activities for research trainees during the coronavirus outbreak.  

Mike Appleman, M.A. Ed., director of primary care education integration, shared that the Rural Medical Education (RMED) Pathway is graduating its second  cohort of students – a group that includes Renee Brumbaugh, Laura Lininger, Laura Yeater and Thomas Weiner.

Appleman said that Brumbaugh, Lininger and Yeater are excellent role models for other women interested in family medicine and primary care, having served NEOMED and at the national level in leadership roles in family medicine and rural medicine. For example, during their M2 year, this group traveled to Hillsdale Middle School, a rural middle school in Ashland County, to deliver a career day with a focus on how girls excel in STEM fields.

Additionally, Janice Spalding, M.D., who created the RMED Pathway, has been a role model for innumerable women at NEOMED over her tenure. Dr. Spalding is retiring from NEOMED this year, although she still plans to support RMED in retirement. And as always, RMED's coordinator, Mary Sherman, is an amazing support to all these women, Mike said.

Sara Bonenfant, a fourth-year College of Pharmacy student, shared positive news that her graduation regalia arrived by mail, which made graduation feel more real to her. She is thankful to NEOMED for providing the virtual celebration and concluded that in her excitement about graduating, she ordered a new dress to celebrate the occasion.

Janet Coon, associate director of government relations, shared the good news that her daughter was admitted to Stark State University.

Carli Toth, assistant registrar, spoke on the interesting balance of parenting and work. She noted how this pandemic proves how much our work and schedules can be flexible and that many tasks do not need to be done during the typical 8-5 workday. Toth indicated that students are both receptive to this new form of customer service from her and appreciative of the flexible work schedule, which allows her to respond during “off hours,” when most students are available to read communications from her.

Wendy Withey, assistant director of continuing professional development, shared a story of innovation:  how she had to re-think celebrating her husband’s milestone 50th birthday. Due to physical distancing, she had to cancel his party, so she had a group of about 30 people meet at the local park to surprise him by honking their horns and holding signs out their windows. When stopped, they got out of their vehicles one by one and left a gift or card in the middle of the driveway. Then, they proceeded to the drive-in restaurant to eat and continue the celebration while still physically distancing.

Dana Whittlesey, program coordinator,  shared news of her daughter’s virtual graduation from Kent State University and the family’s plans for a fun but physically distanced celebration. In addition, she shared that her daughter would continue moving forward at KSU through a graduate assistantship for the College of Nursing to earn her graduate degree in higher education administration with a concentration in student affairs.

In addition to sharing personal stories, the members also talked about what they are seeing in their own neighborhoods, communities, and “feel good” stories they are reading about in the media such as:

  • Neighbors helping neighbors, especially with mask-making
  • Donations of PPE supplies and equipment
  • Prideful Ohio moments watching Dr. Amy Action (’90) and Governor DeWine lead the charge to keep Ohio safe
  • Watching many people taking advantage of the outdoors more than usual
  • Car parades to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other milestones
  • Seeing the positive stories of health care workers, housekeepers, truckers, first responders and other essential employees being celebrated by their communities

Members were reminded to reach out to one another if they see or know of a colleague or student who may need assistance during this time. Dr. Boyle and Janel Koellner, co-chairs of WIN, indicated that much information can be found on our own NEOMED website. Individuals who would like to communicate their concerns may also submit a form to the NEOMED Cares team.

A reminder: Do not use the Care Team referral form for situations that present an imminent risk of harm. If the situation is an emergency, call 911.

Women in NEOMED (WiN) is an employee resource group supported by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The group promotes professional and leadership development, networking and community outreach activities that support the personal and professional development of women faculty and staff at NEOMED. While it addresses issues that mainly affect women, WiN’s membership is open to both men and women who are members of the NEOMED faculty or staff.

For more information about Women in NEOMED, please contact co-chair Jackie Boyle at jboyle2@neomed.edu, co-chair Janel Koellner at jkoellner@neomed.edu, or secretary Dana Whittlesey at dwhittlesey@neomed.edu

--Submitted by Dana Whittlesey

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