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    Mentoring a New Generation of Women Health Care Professionals

    By Anna Christie

    One of the core missions of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health is the mentoring of women contemplating, or currently pursuing, careers in the health professions. The Center has supported widespread improvements in leadership development for women in research and academic programs, community education, and clinical care. As part of that effort, Dr. Milliken initiated a mentorship program to encourage young women to enter the field of women’s health and co-founded the annual Young Women’s Health & Leadership Summit in 2000 with now Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

    The Young Women’s Health and Leadership Programs are comprehensive, multi-faceted programs designed to meet and support the diverse needs of San Francisco’s young women early in their education and careers. The goal is to provide them with the information, skills, resources, support, relationships and opportunities necessary to realize their own potential, make wise decisions about their health and well-being, and impact the health of their communities.

    Over 9,000 young women have participated in these programs so far.

    One opportunity is to participate in the Youth Steering Committee (YSC). The YSC is a group of 15–20 diverse young women from San Francisco high schools who work together for 8 months to create a one-day health & leadership event for over 250 girls. The job includes conducting a community assessment; creating conference goals and a theme; researching and selecting speakers, workshop leaders and entertainment; and planning all details for the conference.

    Two YSC members are Rochelle and Mandy, who recently shared their thoughts about what they learned and experienced.

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    Rochelle: “I grew up in a male dominated society as an Asian woman. I feel like I learned about women’s empowerment in the YSC, and this was especially important because it was not something I could learn in my family or in my regular community. I found through YSC that I became comfortable and close with people I would not have ever even talked to. That allowed me to become more comfortable with myself. It helped me to become a new person.  I learned that your bravery can be important and inspiring to others, too.”

    Mandy: “One lesson I learned in the YSC was the value and power of having a voice. Having found my voice at the YSC, I initially thought that my voice would only help me share ideas. Over time, I realized that my voice was a voice for people from the communities I come from, people who have had the same life experiences as me, and, more importantly, people who have not yet found their voice. I learned that my voice, and others’ voices, had far greater value than just revealing thoughts. Instead, it could be used as a vehicle to interact with others and learn about different cultures, experiences, and lives.

    During my clinical internship at a hospital in college, I was eager to use my voice to interact with the patients I see. Working in a surgical recovery unit at Ronald Reagan Medical Center, I saw patients ranging from young adults to the elderly. I heard many patients’ stories about the events leading to their admission to the hospital, and even more stories about the activities and adventures they hope to experience once they leave the hospital. It is from their voices, and the stories they shared, that I found my passion to become a doctor. I want to become a person that uses medicine to help people become healthy so they can live to see their dreams come true. I want to help people live life and experience all the wonders that it comes with.

    Over the span of a year, I have grown into a more world-wise, confident, and driven woman. For this next year, I am hoping to learn more, experience more, and pursue my passion to become a doctor.”

    For information about the Center’s YSC, Innovators in Young Women’s Health Program and the Young Women’s Health & Leadership Summit, visit http://coe.ucsf.edu/coe/internship/intern_ysc.html

    Anna Christie is the Program Supervisor of the UCSF Young Women’s Health & Leadership Summit.