Welcome to FOCUS

FOCUS on Health & Leadership for Women (FOCUS) is a dean-funded program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania designed to improve the recruitment, retention, advancement and leadership of women faculty, and to promote education and research in women’s health and leadership.

FOCUS collaborates with other medical schools, universities, national committees, and Women in Medicine (WIM) programs in order to explore institutional change that fosters a more diverse faculty in the community of academic medicine.


FOCUS Initiatives include:

OVERVIEW SUMMARY OF FOCUS INITIATIVES (click title for pdf download)

Benchmarks: Gender Statistics
Comprehensive biennial report on the gender distribution of Penn medical faculty by track, rank, department, and leadership position including comparisons to AAMC national statistics and to Penn historical reports from as far back as 1999.

Lunchtime Seminar Series
Presentations by faculty experts that explore a broad range of topics: current medical issues and controversies, women’s health research, and faculty development.  All faculty, men and women, are invited.

Annual Fall Leadership Mentoring Conference
"Successful Strategies for Women in Academic Medicine," a daylong, networking and professional development program with nationally recognized speakers that focuses on the opportunities and challenges facing women in academic medicine.

Junior Faculty Investigator Award
Offers competitive grants for twelve months to junior faculty investigators (men and women) for pilot research related to women’s health (an extramurally supported initiative).   

Medical Student Fellowship in Women’s Health
Offers competitive six-month grants for medical students (men and women) to take time out from the traditional curriculum to conduct a faculty-mentored research project in women’s health (an extramurally supported program).

Women’s Health Scholar Certificate
Provides medical students (men and women) a concentrated experience over three years in women's health spanning research, clinical training, and community outreach (jointly sponsored by FOCUS and OB/GYN).

Award for the Advancement of Women in Medicine
Recognizes annually a faculty member whose efforts and achievements have promoted the career success, leadership, and overall quality of life for Penn women in academic medicine.

Section for Women Residents & Fellows
Provides women trainees with multiple career development opportunities via presentations and workshops focused on critical skills and resources for advancement in academic medicine and work-life balance. 

Longitudinal Cohorts
FOCUS offers longitudinal cohort workshops that provide professional development for women faculty in academic medicine at various career stages. The cohort series provide an in-depth personal approach to strategic planning for career “next steps” as well as proactive skill building through structured mentoring with senior facilitators and peers.

These programs are designed to: 1) give faculty the opportunity to be proactive and forward-thinking about their career and life as a whole; 2) provide a framework to explore new career possibilities and experiment implementing a realistic career/life plan that is aligned with individual interests and values; 3) reinvigorate a vision of the future; and 4) offer each participant a network of other women faculty, who serve as resources and support and help engender a feeling of community at Penn. These sessions are intentionally administered by Penn Med faculty for Penn Med faculty, which makes the content and process particularly relevant to participants.

The Mid-Career Faculty Longitudinal Cohort Program is designed to enhance the professional and personal development of faculty members in the mid-phase of their careers. The overarching philosophy of this program is to use the “longitudinal cohort” as the key structure for proactive career reflection and planning of the next career phase. The ultimate goal is to use facilitated and peer-group mentoring to explore pathways for creating the most rewarding, productive and sustainable careers possible. Through a series of four workshops over several months, the faculty participants are guided in developing a personalized plan for the next 5-10 years. Participants are encouraged to reflect on their accomplishments and challenges, strengths and weaknesses, current goals, values, realities and opportunities. There are structured exercises at each session, and homework in between sessions designed to explore and experiment with potential opportunities for reinvigoration. The facilitated cohort structure takes advantage of the profound talent and energy inherent in peer faculty colleagues, along with the experience and wisdom of senior colleague facilitators who guide the process. Faculty participants develop a sense of camaraderie, support, and shared experience that transcend school and department boundaries to create a culture of collaboration and new opportunities.

Envisioning the Later Stage of Career is a four session program designed to guide senior women faculty in a process of proactive reflection and planning for the next career/life phase. The final years of a career in academic medicine can create opportunities to develop a future with new rewards and fulfillment. These years can also be challenging for many reasons, including finding new opportunities as a faculty member becomes more senior, staying clinically active as expectations steadily increase, leaving a legacy for one’s successors, etc. In the midst of these challenges, it can be hard to find the time to develop a vision that takes full advantage of past accomplishments and offers insight into what responsibilities could be pruned and what new challenges could energize the next life phase. The program uses a cohort-based approach, combining self-reflection and peer group work to advance each participant’s unique vision for the final stages of their careers. At the start of the program, participants chart significant events in their lives along a continuum relating to satisfaction and accomplishment as part of a Life Chart exercise. This Life Chart is referenced throughout the program. One participant shared, “I found that the exercise of developing a timeline of our formative experiences provided necessary direction that helped me focus on what is most meaningful to me, as well as permission to embrace the realities of an unknown future… As a consequence of the series, I feel ready to take another dive, but this time perhaps into even more poignantly unknown and uncharted territory.”

FOCUS also offers longitudinal cohorts designed around specific topics related to developing a skill set within the context of individual career needs and personal values. A recent example is the Time Management and Delegation 2-Session Workshop.

FOCUS Twitter Initiative @FOCUS_UPenn

TwitterThe FOCUS Twitter initiative began in 2018 to engage and connect individuals, programs, and organizations around issues affecting women in academic medicine.  The FOCUS Program uses Twitter as a platform for disseminating evidence-based practices, new research, and important news related to the core tenets of FOCUS: 1) improving the recruitment, retention, advancement and leadership of women faculty and 2) promoting education and research in women’s health and leadership.  FOCUS engages in various local and national conversations on Twitter and has also implemented #WomenOfPenn, a discussion with the goal of highlighting PENN women faculty who have made a substantial impact through their accomplishments in research, education, clinical care, community outreach, or quality improvement. In addition, #WomenOFPenn is a venue to share the experience, wisdom and insight that women faculty have about academic medicine and its many opportunities, rewards and challenges. FOCUS also utilizes Twitter to build community and encourage dialogue around upcoming events such as the FOCUS Annual Fall Conference, Seminar Series, longitudinal mentoring programs, and other resources, as well as discussing current controversies in the national discussion about women’s advancement and leadership.  The FOCUS Twitter Initiative is a collaboration with our Penn colleagues including Monika Sanghavi, MD as well as Nosheen Reza, MD and Maria Basil, MD, PhD, who lead the FOCUS Section for Women Residents & Fellows.

The NIH-TAC Trial (Transforming Academic Culture)
FOCUS leadership assembled a multidisciplinary team of researchers to develop and conduct this cluster‐randomized study within the School of Medicine, a unique, landmark intervention trial funded by a 4-year NIH-RO1 grant.