Endowment to Encourage Women in Academic Medicine at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine | VTX

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Dolores Stolte freely shares her key to happiness. Honesty. Be honest with others but also with yourself. Stolte lived a rich and meaningful life upholding this maxim and raised her daughter, Cynda Johnson, to do the same. Johnson was the founding dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (VTCSOM) and is a professor of family and community medicine.

So it was fitting that Stolte established the Cecil William Stolte & and Dolores Ann Reith Stolte Fund for Women in Medicine and Science at VTCSOM, named after herself and her late husband. The fully-funded endowment was donated to the school’s Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS), which consists of students, medical residents, and faculty members who promote dialogue about what it means to be a woman in medicine. The fully funded endowment was paid to the school Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS), which consists of students, medical residents, and faculty members who foster dialogue about what it means to be a woman in medicine.

“We looked at many options, but that’s where I, and I’m sure my late husband, would like our money to go — to help women,” Stolte said. “Life is an ongoing adventure, especially for women in medicine, and we want to help her.”

GWIMS is an accredited group of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and was created to advance the success of women in academic medicine by addressing gender equity, recruitment and retention, rewards, recognition and career advancement. According to AAMC, there has been a steady increase in the number of university medical department chairs in recent years, but they still represent only 18% of the total. Among full-time faculty, women from a race or ethnic group underrepresented in medicine represented 12% in 2009 and only increased to 13% in 2018. Additionally, since 2009, the number of deans increased by about one every year. , on average.

Johnson recalled when she told her parents she wanted to pursue medical school.

“My mom told me I could do anything I wanted, but I had to want it for myself,” Johnson said.

“I didn’t want to impose my own expectations on my daughter, but rather support her in achieving the dreams she has found for herself,” Stolte said.

At a recent GWIMS celebration of Stolte and her generous gift, Johnson recounted her journey from resident physician to founding dean and the lessons she learned along the way. A highlight of the event was a multimedia story about Stolte by Neeka Karimian, Class of 2024. Karimian spent several hours on Zoom interviews with the two women, preparing for the presentation as part of the Stolte tribute.

“I noticed the importance Ms. Stolte placed on honesty,” Karimian said. “It wasn’t rooted in a sense of false humility or shame or superiority, just an outright acceptance that we were all people – including ourselves – who had flaws and strengths and space to dynamic growth.”

As it should be, the evening ended with a speed mentoring session. Regular GWIMS activities include advocacy panels, mentoring and networking events, and a women’s health screening fair.

“This endowment means female students for years to come will have the opportunity to participate in events that are timely and relevant to their education and career development,” said Kacie Hoyt, Class of 2024 and GWIMS VTCSOM Chapter President. “We have come a long way with women in medicine, but there is still work to be done, particularly in the areas of female minority representation, leadership advancement and pay equity.

Rebecca Pauly, acting senior associate dean for medical education and faculty advisor for GWIMS, echoed Hoyt’s enthusiasm for the staffing role.

“We are grateful to Ms. Stolte for supporting our chapter of GWIMS and especially for her presence at our event,” she said. “Her words of wisdom that she shared have all come down to us.”

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