Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) launched a new series called ‘Women and Medicine’ to explore issues related to women’s health and discuss matters pertinent to women healthcare professionals in the clinical, educational, research, and academic settings.

The groundbreaking four-module series focuses on the roles and experiences of women in the context of clinical care, education, research, and academic life, and is directed by clinical psychiatry assistant professor Dr Aicha Hind Rifai and English professor Dr Krystyna Golkowska. The series is offered as an online live stream.

According to WCM-Q Vice Dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs, Dr Thurayya Arayssi, the aim of the series was to throw light on some of the medical issues affecting women that are often overlooked or misunderstood, either because they are symptomatically different or are understated and difficult to detect. She said that this can lead to illnesses being misdiagnosed, diagnosed late or not diagnosed at all, which is clearly detrimental to health.

We then expanded the concept to cover a more comprehensive range of issues affecting women in the context of medicine and healthcare, aiming to enhance our understanding of these issues and improve women’s experiences of medicine, including patient outcomes.

First Module: Women and Mental Health

The first of the four modules, Clinical Module 1: Women and Mental Health, was presented recently. It examined the social determinants of women’s mental health, the opportunities to engage primary care workers and communities in mental healthcare work and evidence-based methods for handling mental health problems due to domestic abuse.

Mental health stock imageThe module also demonstrated the use of simple assessment methods to be used in clinical settings to measure the mental health impact of domestic violence and looked at a model of postnatal mental health promotion.

Expert speakers for the module included psychiatry professors Dr Helen Herrman (University of Melbourne) and Dr Prabha Chandra (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India); and Finkel professor of global health Dr Jane Fisher (Monash University, Melbourne, Australia). Dr Herrman served as president of the World Psychiatric Association from 2017-2020 and is the current director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Mental Health in Melbourne.

According to Dr Rifai, who chaired and moderated the first session, the webinar series offers participants a deeper and broader understanding of women and medicine and the diverse opportunities and challenges presented to the profession.

Some of the key focal points of the discussions, says Dr Rifai, were the necessity of timely identification of mental health conditions that are more commonly seen in women or that have a special impact on women’s lives. She also noted the necessity to train healthcare workers in the assessment and management of these conditions.

Dr Golkowska added how nowadays, women play an important role in all areas of the medical profession – as physicians, allied health professionals, researchers, educators or executives, and how at the same time, women have unique needs as patients.

Thus, understanding of how women impact and are impacted by medicine is vital to ensure their equitable access to professional opportunities in medicine and to protect their health, safety and well-being.

The remaining three modules will be presented in the coming months. The series is accredited locally by the Ministry of Public Health Department of Healthcare Professions and by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

Visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu for more information about the new series.

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