Interview - Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones: 'Keep pushing forward: Why the MWF Centenary year presents a unique opportunity for women in medicine'

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15 November 2017

 

'Keep pushing forward: Why the Medical Women’s Federation Centenary year is a special time that presents a unique opportunity for women in medicine'

An inspiring interview with president-elect Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones is featured in Womanthology's Women in Medicine and Health issue special.

Dr. Bowden-Jones is the founder and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the only NHS service designated for the treatment of pathological gamblers, now in its tenth year. She runs a gambling disorders research group and has been the recipient of Medical Research Council grants and a Wolfson Fellowship, as well as several prizes and awards. Henrietta is a neuroscience researcher, a medical doctor specialising in addiction psychiatry, an honorary clinical senior lecturer at the Department of Medicine, Imperial College, as well as being president-elect of the Medical Women’s Federation.

The interview offers a thought-provoking insight into the continued work and relevance of the MWF in our centenary year. Read the full article here.

 etta

 

Guest Blog: Mentorship, Seeds and Paying It Forward

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23 October 2017

Although I'm someone who is still relatively early on in their medical career, I can already vouch for the importance of mentorship and words of encouragement at the right time.

I've just started in my dream speciality of radiology and I certainly didn't get here on my own. The week of application I had a wobble about my abilities, what it would mean for my personal life and questioned if I even had a chance in hell of getting in. A wise colleague who was also applying for radiology encouraged me to just go for it. I took the jump, got out of my own way, and thankfully landed on my feet.

My story could have ended very differently. Fear, listening to some of the discouraging “oh that's really competitive” talk around me and a lack of confidence would have seen me stop chasing the thing I really wanted; and then where would I have been?

In my first week of radiology training we had a session introducing us to the interventional radiology and a fancy bit of kit we would have the opportunity to play with. We also got to meet Dr Nelofer Gafoor, one of the interventional radiologists.

After our introduction Dr Gafoor spoke about entering interventional radiology and then came this off the cuff statement: “Oh and by the way, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something. You can get married and have children and work and be an interventional radiologist if you want to. Look at me.”

And look we did. These words struck a chord. I remember discussing it with one of my colleagues. She had never met a female interventional radiologist before, let alone one who wore heels and lipstick, smiled at us and was so encouraging.

I'm not saying we should all be interventional radiologists, but I am a firm believer in doing whatever you want to do regardless of your gender. As a strong convert of the Sheryl Sandberg effect, I'm talking about sitting at the table. For those of you who are unfamiliar; Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, talks in her book Lean In about women not sitting at the table and essentially taking themselves out of the competition too soon due to lack of self-belief, amongst other reasons.

I know this very well because I've done it to myself at times when I experienced a crisis of confidence and I saw it yesterday in someone else. Walking a 10 minute journey with a bright intelligent final year female medical student I was floored when she said she didn't think she would be good enough to enter a speciality such as radiology. At the very start of her medical career I could see no reason as to why this could be true. When I dug a little deeper it was a confidence issue. I tried my best to encourage her, gave her my e-mail address so I could answer more of her questions in the future and wished her the best.

She may take heed of my words and maybe she won't but the point is, you never know the potential impact your words could really have. When I approached Dr Gafoor to get permission for this post, she barely remembered what she had said but I remember them as if they were yesterday. And so do my female colleagues. Sometimes a few words of encouragement are enough to plant the seed of possibility in someone’s mind. They won't all grow, but I'm going to keep planting them because I'm only here since someone took the time to throw the seed of possibility along with some sun my way. I will always be grateful for that and try to pay it forward.

Dr Salma Aslamsalma aslam

Dr Salma Aslam is an ST1 Radiology Registrar who since graduating from Bristol University has continued her love of writing and has written for the BMA and the Guardian.

#LifeofaMedWoman

Guest Blog: Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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18 October 2017

MWIA´s president elect, Dr. Clarissa Fabre visited the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa.

I recently visited the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. It was an inspiring experience. Founded in 1974 by Drs Catherine and Reginald Hamlin, it now has 5 satellite sites in Ethiopia as well as the main hospital in Addis Ababa. Young girls in rural Ethiopia often marry in their teens, are poorly nourished, have poorly supervised pregnancies, develop obstructed labour, form fistulae between vagina and bladder or between vagina and rectum. They leak urine or faeces, they smell, are consequently rejected by their husbands, and become social outcasts. They walk miles to get to medical care. At the Fistula Hospital, they are strengthened and nourished, their fistulas are repaired, and they are rehabilitated. Some of them become nursing assistants when they are well again, and help with the care of future patients.

It is astonishing that around 4000 patients with fistulae are still treated each year (the phenomenon is virtually unknown in high income countries). The problem is poor access to medical care in labour, and especially access to caesarian sections if indicated (in rural communities 90% of births are outside a healthcare facility). The Hamlin Fistula Hospital now trains 20 midwives each year on a four year degree course. The midwives come from these poor rural communities and will return there once their course is completed.

How could MWF become involved with the Fistula Hospital? All treatment for these girls is free of charge. They arrive at the hospital as social outcasts after days of walking. Once their treatment is complete, each girl is discharged with a clean new dress and a bus ticket home. What a transformation! Charities in the U.K (www.hamlinfistulauk.org), Australia, Canada and the US are very successful in raising funds. Our members, who are trained uro-gynaecologists might consider a placement as volunteers.fitsula hospital clarissa

The Hamlin Fistula Hospital is a wonderful oasis of medical care. It is set among trees and flowers, the staff are dedicated to holistic care. Dr Catherine Hamlin is now 93 years old (her husband died over 20 years ago) and she lives on site. She is known as 'the mother of all mothers' and has created a unique centre of excellent medical care, combined with a loving and caring environment. I would highly recommend that MWF supports the whole concept in any way that we can.

 

Dr Clarissa Fabre

Past president MWF
MWIA president-elect
MWIA representative to WHO

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  25. Letter to Jeremy Hunt
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Medical Women's Federation
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