GWIMS Sees Growth Under Bruner Leadership

Lia Bruner, MDDr. Lia Bruner, associate professor of family and community medicine, was named the Medical College of Georgia’s designee and chair for the Association of American Medical Colleges’s Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) in the summer of 2020.

Bruner secured the position after Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership campus dean, Dr. Michelle Nuss, nominated Bruner for the role and Medical College of Georgia’s (MCG) Dean David Hess made the request to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Bruner was excited to take the role to make a difference in gender inequality in medicine.

“Medical school admission rates for women are now higher for women than for men, but graduation rates are slightly less for women,” said Bruner. “Unfortunately, retention, promotion, and pay rates are still consistently lower for women than men, and women are under-represented in leadership positions in academic medicine. There has been some improvement over the last 10 years, but there is still a long way to go. MCG GWIMS can work on these issues and provide much needed connection and support among women at MCG.”

With Bruner at the helm, GWIMS saw considerable advancement and growth in three years.

“Rejuvenating the organization was one of the main accomplishments,” said Bruner.

In 2020 when Bruner took on leadership of the group, members weren’t meeting regularly, so simply gathering, whether that be in-person or virtually, was a step in the right direction.

Growth that GWIMS saw in three years included—a new listserv still growing in subscribers, new social media accounts, 41 events (co)sponsored, new committees (Membership and Networking Committee, Leadership and Awards Committee, Policy and Advocacy Committee), new awards (Ally Award, Leadership Award, Gender Equity Champion Award), and new partnerships with departments at both the Athens and Augusta campuses.

Dr. Amy Baldwin, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, is an Athens campus liaison for GWIMS and serves as a member of the GWIMS Policy and Advocacy Committee.

“Dr. Bruner navigated many barriers to revitalize the MCG GWIMS chapter,” said Baldwin. “She has also served as an effective example of how to advocate for yourself to obtain promotion and overcoming institutional barriers for equitable promotion and recognition.”

Bruner’s GWIMS reign will come to an end on July 1, but the group will be left in good hands—Dr. Kim Giffen, assistant professor of neuroscience and regenerative medicine at the Medical Partnership, will take on the role as Bruner departs.

“I am confident that Dr. Giffen and the rest of the leadership team will not only continue MCG GWIMS’s good work, but will help the group really flourish,” said Bruner.

As Bruner wraps up her leadership role with GWIMS, she’s not taking time off to rest—Bruner has now taken a two-year term as co-chair of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Women’s (STFM) Collaborative.

The mission of the STFM Collaborative is to serve the needs of women at all levels of family medicine. STFM supports women through networking, mentorship, advocacy for gender equity, and the celebration of career achievements and advancement of women within academic family medicine.

“I have already worked with other collaborative members to put on workshops, roundtable discussions, and panel discussions at STFM national conferences and will continue to do this,” said Bruner. “At the national collaborative meeting in May, I proposed expanding the leadership of the collaborative to include steering committee members to increase national leadership opportunities and have the ability to increase the offerings of the collaborative. This was accepted, and we now have two inaugural steering committee members joining us this year with a plan to add two more steering committee members per year for the next two years. We have also submitted a proposal to have questions about equity in service work added to a national survey of department chairs in family medicine. We also plan to offer virtual skills and networking sessions throughout the year.”

To honor her commitment to GWIMS, Bruner has received multiple faculty leadership awards for her work including the 2022 MCG Group on Women in Medicine and Science Gender Equity Champion Award.

“As a major force in the revitalizing of the MCG GWIMS chapter, Dr. Bruner’s efforts have influenced the promotion process and have resulted in new leadership opportunities for the women of MCG,” said Baldwin. “Dr. Bruner is a highly effective leader, and I consider myself very lucky to work with her at the Medical Partnership.”

As she exits, Bruner wanted to humbly extend praise to those who stood by her during her three-year reign.

“I want to thank Dean Nuss, Dean Hess, and all my colleagues who helped lead the organization over the last three years,” said Bruner. “I also want to thank all the women and men who participated in our events and continue to make MCG a great place to work.”

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