Women in Medicine Month at OUWB kicks off with keynote from OU president
An image of Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz
Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., president, Oakland University

The importance of mentors and finding a healthy work/life balance were the primary topics of a keynote presentation held as part of OUWB’s Women in Medicine celebration.

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., president, Oakland University, delivered the keynote during the online session held Thursday.

Pescovitz has more than 30 years of experience in health centers, industry, and universities. She is a renowned pediatric endocrinologist and investigator who has published more than 190 papers and books, and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Pescovitz drew on her extensive experience in medicine and academia to offer up advice for the OUWB students, faculty, and staff who participated in the session. She also referenced an essay called “My Mentor Quilt” that she wrote and was published Aug. 28 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“I hope that by the end of our session today, each one of you will establish your own mentor quilt, regardless of whether you are a first- or second-year medical student…dean of (OUWB) or provost,” she said. “Every person, regardless of where you are in your career development, deserves to have a mentor quilt.”

Women in Medicine Month is an annual celebration held each September to highlight the accomplishments of women in medicine and science.

To honor this month, OUWB's Center for Excellence in Medical Education offers engaging virtual and in-person events, all aimed at fostering knowledge-sharing, empowerment, and professional growth open to all of the OUWB community. Register here.

Sept. 20
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Inspired Women Lead
Panel Discussion
In Person Only
110B O'Dowd Hall
(lunch provided)

Please join us for a panel discussion with women in leadership roles from OUWB School of Medicine as they share stories about their career journeys. They will discuss their inspirations, influences, and challenges as women in the workforce.
Sept. 21
2 - 3 p.m.
Equality vs. Equity: Knowing Makes the Difference
Tonya Bailey, Ph.D.
Join Bailey in this interactive session, where participants will explore equality and equity concepts and consider the similarities and differences between the two often confused terms. This session will dive deeply into equality vs equity and see how fairness, success, and society are affected by these notions.
Sept. 26
9 - 10 a.m.
Building Self-Esteem in the Academic Environment: Unleashing the Power of “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”
Taylor Battaglia, M.A.T.
Drawing inspiration from Nathaniel Branden's influential book, "The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem," this presentation sheds light on the impact that self-esteem has in the academic environment.  

As described in her essay, Pescovitz developed the concept of a mentor quilt over time, after she realized “no one person would ever be a perfect fit for that role.” In short, it’s a “patchwork of mentors to guide, advise, and nurture me throughout my life journey.”

“Today, I have a large quilt stitched together by remarkable individuals from a range of careers and experiences through all stages of my professional and personal life,” she wrote.

During her keynote to the OUWB community, she talked about having mentors at different points in her career: when she was primarily doing research; working in a clinical setting; and serving as a medical and hospital administrator. Pescovitz also noted how mentors have helped her personal life.

“Today, I have this wonderful, amazing quilt of mentors and I never discard any of the patches from this quilt…I keep adding to them,” she said. “The moral of the story is that each of you should develop your own quilt of mentors and keep adding to it as well.”

Duane Mezwa, M.D., retired dean of OUWB, listened to Pescovitz’s presentation. He urged others to consider that not all mentors are necessarily older individuals.

“I’ve had a series of mentors who were years younger than me,” he said. “I learned from them as they developed their leadership…that I could end up copying and become a better dean, or a better doctor, or a better leader overall. Age does not have to be a factor.”

Tips for maintaining work/life balance

For the second half of her presentation, Pescovitz zeroed in on tips she primarily learned from her mentors to help maintain work/life balance.

The first tip centered on the importance of quality childcare for families where both parents are pursuing careers.

“The single most important thing…is to never skimp on childcare,” she said. “It is worth spending whatever you need to in order to ensure that your children are taken care of and so that you don’t have to worry because they are in great hands so you can devote yourself to your careers.”

Pescovitz acknowledged the high costs of childcare, and noted that when she and her late husband were working they were essentially spending the equivalent of one of their salaries on the expense.

“But it allowed us to pursue our professional pursuits and ensure that our children were healthy and safe,” she said. “I don’t resent that for a single moment.”

Another tip?

Develop shortcuts to use time most effectively.  

By example, she pointed to when one of her daughters was on the high school dance team that would perform at basketball games.

“It was very important to me to support all of my children’s extracurricular activities,” she said.

However, Pescovitz said she didn’t have the capacity to sit through an entire game. As a result, she figured out when her daughter would be performing based on when games were played. This allowed her to see her daughter in action without having to give up nearly three hours.

“I figured out how to be present for what was important…that I would see my daughter dance…and I would stand in a place where she could see me and know that I was there,” she said.

Attendees of the presentation were engaged. They asked several questions and expressed gratitude to Pescovitz for sharing her story and advice.

Lynda Misra, D.O., OUWB faculty member in the Department of Internal Medicine was among them. She offered one additional piece of advice to which Pescovitz expressed agreement.

“Sometimes young females in particular with young families can get overwhelmed, bogged down, and feel like they’re just not hitting the mark because they see what other people have accomplished,” she said. “It’s great to aim high and have those types of goals, but also realize that you have to give yourself a break and it takes time to achieve all of those things.”

Tracey Taylor, Ph.D., associate professor and assistant dean for Diversity & Inclusion, said she finds the advice given by Pescovitz extremely useful. 

"Her parenting story about attending her daughter's cheer events is something that I honestly think about probably on a weekly basis in my own life when attending my own children's sporting events," said Taylor. "It is really such a wonderful story and she tells it so well. That 'parenting hack' and her description of the mentor quilt are my two most memorable takeaways."

Tori Arnold, faculty development coordinator, also said she took a lot away from the talk. 

"It's always beneficial to hear the experiences of others and Dr. Pescovitz's story reminded me that there are always people willing to help if you need it," she said. "No matter what you're dealing with, there is always someone who can help guide you through the 'unknown.'"

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.