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Sheila Dugan, MD, Chosen for Carol Emmott Fellowship

Sheila Dugan, MD​, has been selected for the 2019 class of the Carol Emmott Fellowship, which aims to decrease the disparities in upper-level leadership by women throughout the health care field. Dugan is among 18 fellows who were announced on Nov. 14 and nominated by 15 prestigious sponsoring organizations, including Rush University Medical Center, that are committed to working with the fellowship to shape a growing network of remarkable women in the top ranks of leadership.

Though women dominate the lower and mid-level health care workforce and comprise half the enrollment in U.S. medical schools, they are underrepresented in senior executive and board-level positions in health. This inequity deprives the fields of health and medicine of the full range of talents, skills, and perspectives that gender parity affords. Research has shown that leadership and mentoring help women reach more senior positions and can close gaps in pay as well.

“Rush’s goal is to build a diverse workforce that reflects the people we serve,” says Larry Goodman, MD, CEO of Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System. “We know that to truly provide the highest quality care, we have to have a leadership team that is representative of our communities. Our commitment begins at the top, and runs through the entire organization.”

Dugan is a professor and acting chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation​ and co-director of the Rush Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health. She has been a co-investigator on the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) since 2004 and a co-investigator on National Institutes of Health-supported community-based participatory research in health equity. She has been chair of the Rush Women's Leadership Council since 2008, has served on the Board of the American College of Sports Medicine and chaired the Strategic Health Initiative for Women, Sports and Physical Activity from 2005 to 2009.

Making an impact

Fellows are nominated by their sponsoring organization and compete for acceptance into the program with a proposed impact project that transcends their current role to advance an area of health. During the 14-month fellowship program, they continue to work for their organizations during the fellowship as they implement their impact projects.

For her project, Dugan will implement the  Women's Leadership Council's strategic plan, including a salary review by gender, launch of the Office of Women’s Affairs and the council's website, and initiatives including an improved family-friendly work environment.

Dugan joins other women leaders at Rush as Emmott fellows, including Cynthia Boyd, MD, MBA; and Richa Gupta, MBBS, MHSA​ (class of 2016) and Monica Kogan, MD, and Haimanot (Monnie) Wasse, MD, MPH (class of 2017). The program fills a crucial unmet need in overcoming gender disparity by accelerating the leadership capacity and impact of women leaders in health.

"Women begin the Carol Emmott Fellowship program with the talent and ideas needed to transform health care practice,” says Mary Pittman, DrPH, Carol Emmott Fellowship Board member and CEO and president of the Public Health Institute. “And they emerge with the networks, concrete experience, and support that make those ideas a reality. We’ve seen remarkable change as a result.”

“Investing in women leaders will transform health care,” adds Christine Malcolm, executive director of the Carol Emmott Fellowship. “The fellowship’s mission is shared by the men and women who hold executive positions today, see the gaps created by gender disparity, and are committed to serving as our advisors, mentors, and partners.”

The fellowship reflects the life work of Carol B. Emmott (1946-2015), who throughout her 40-year career in health policy and executive search was instrumental in and dedicated to the rise of women to the upper echelons of the health sector.

“Rush strongly believes in the value of diversity to help achieve our goals, including gender diversity in leadership roles, which is why we chose to be a founding sponsor of the Carol Emmott Fellowship,” says Michael J. Dandorph, president of Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System.

“Rush’s goal is to build a diverse workforce that reflects the people we serve,” Goodman says. “We know that to truly provide the highest quality care, we have to have a leadership team that is representative of our communities. Our commitment begins at the top, and runs through the entire organization.”

A full list of the 2019 fellows is available on the Carol Emmott Fellowship website​.

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