What Is The Problem?
In oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS), women are significantly underrepresented as trainees and practitioners. Despite a near equal gender distribution among dental students, women represent only 15% of OMS residents and 6.6% of practicing American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (AAOMS) members. For women in OMS and for those interested in the specialty, there are a lack of identifiable pathways for mentorship, sponsorship and career development opportunities.
What Is The Principle?
The Women in OMS Symposium is a two-day conference created within the section of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Michigan which has been held in Ann Arbor for the last two years. The concept was born in 2018 when three University of Michigan residents, Karen Carver, Kelly Sayre and Sara Anderson identified the need to develop a community of women in OMS. The goal of the symposium is to bring together oral and maxillofacial surgeons from across the country to discuss the unique opportunities and challenges faced by female oral surgeons throughout their career. The 2019 conference held in March focused on leadership, conflict management and career development.
How Was It Applied?
A total of 137 individuals attended the 2019 conference, women and men alike, including individuals from across the United states, Canada, Mexico, England and Pakistan. Attendees included dental and medical students, OMS residents and fellows, academic faculty, private practice oral surgeons, ancillary staff and dental professionals.
Invited lectureships were given by speakers from institutions across the country on a broad range of topics including strategies for leadership, mentorship, and sponsorship; managing implicit bias; leading effective meetings and contract negotiation. Author Scott Page spoke about the Diversity Bonus and the keynote address was given by Emory University faculty and president of the American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (ACOMS), Dr. Stephanie Drew, on the history and future of women in OMS. The symposium also included a wellness retreat, a workshop on conflict management, resident-led breakout sessions and multiple formal and informal opportunities to network.
What Did We Learn?
We learned an enormous amount about the challenges faced by female oral surgeons in training and in practice, about strategies to manage these challenges and about the opportunities available to women with a career in OMS. The feedback of the Women in OMS Symposium has been overwhelmingly positive and the symposium was empowering and meaningful to attendees in many ways. Attendees were able to share personal stories of achievement and challenges in a safe space. Many trainees were able to “identify women in OMS that look like [them]” and to “make valuable connections with fellow women with similar passions,” while practicing OMS noted that “this much needed symposium allowed time to reflect on important issues.”
Through the connections built at the Women in OMS symposium, we have established a network of women in OMS which will serve as an ongoing avenue for open discussion, networking, mentorship and sponsorship for women at all levels of their careers in OMS. We hope to continue to encourage more students to choose a career in OMS, to provide support for women as they develop in their careers in OMS and to promote more women to leadership positions in OMS. We have started a yearly tradition to celebrate women in OMS with the hope of continuing this symposium for years to come.
Article by Justine Moe, MD, DDS
Reach out to join the conversation or to learn more about how to implement the Michigan Promise. Connect with the Department of Surgery or our faculty on Twitter to share your ideas or get in touch with the Office of Faculty & Resident Life to schedule a Michigan Promise presentation at your institution. You can also fill out our Michigan Promise Inquiry Form with any questions or comments.
Department of Surgery Office of Faculty & Resident Life
2210F Taubman Center
1500 E. Medical Center Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109