Thank you to those who make me feel like I belong.

Pierre Van Zyl

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I just got back from a major Emergency Medicine conference, and I was absolutely blown away by the amount of female leadership- in academia, giving keynote lectures, as heads of committees, emerging true pioneers, established industry leaders,  influencers, and all- around powerhouses.  I was inspired, but had another feeling that I failed to identify all week long.

Now that the whirlwind of lectures, networking, and dinners are over, I have time to reflect. This time helped me figure out what I was feeling the past few days that buoyed my spirits and helped me immerse myself in the conference and fully engage. I felt like I belonged. Just as I am. Just as I hope to be.

Most of my mentors in medicine (except a select few, to whom I am forever grateful) have been men. Our residency leadership is mostly men. Amazing, supportive, brilliant, kind, respectful men. But the persistent image of women at the forefront, on the stage, with a wide collection of varied interests, personalities, speaking styles, and expertise, made me realize that I do belong. We all belong, simply by being there. I’m not an anomaly, an outlier, a “diversity” player. I do not have to fit into any specific “women in medicine” category. So many before me have broken glass ceilings, normalized positions at the table, and have dedicated so much time, energy, and sacrifice, for me, and this current generation of upcoming doctors, to feel like they belong.

So thank you. I’m honored to be in a specialty that is evolving, and I’m grateful to feel hopeful, not frustrated, at my future position within the house of medicine that is my calling.

When I was applying to medical school a decade ago (!!) I turned to this blog for help. I felt lonely, unsure, intimidated. I didn’t know if I belonged, where I belonged, how I could continue to belong. Now, about to graduate from residency, I feel grateful. Grateful for this online community that is a source of inspiration and empathy, and grateful for the leaders who continue to show the world that we belong, in every way.