AMWA Member Spotlight—Amy Ho, MD

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  • December 01, 2020

Amy Faith Ho, MD, grew up in Austin, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree. in biology. She earned a medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she was chapter president of the Texas Medical Association, class Vice President, and earned the President’s Gold Service for Volunteerism. She completed a residency in emergency medicine from the University of Chicago in Illinois, before returning to her home town to pursue her career.

Tell Us About Your Work as a Woman in Medicine

AMWA member, Dr. Amy Ho is a ER doctor and children's book author.

Dr. Amy Ho is an ER Doc, children’s book author, and health policy speaker.

I see myself as a storyteller. As an emergency medicine physician, I am Director of Clinical Informatics at Integrative Emergency Services in Dallas, Texas, where I use data to “tell the story” of operations and administration, in a way that others can understand.

More specifically, I design how informatics is integrated into clinical and operational workflow. In other words, I work on how information flows from the medical record to the clinician, back into the medical chart, and into downstream data analytics like productivity, revenue cycle, quality, and other metrics.

I landed in this career path by choosing an administrative fellowship that led to a promotion to assistant medical director and then associate medical director. While I was working in operations, I realized that data drives all of our decisions, from patient care to finance to operations. However, that data is of variable quality, and data can also always be manipulated, I became extremely interested in how our data is collected, collated, and analyzed and how to build it into a workflow most conducive to the clinicians and administration.

As a writer, I use words to ’tell the story’ of healthcare at large. I have been published and I give presentations on a variety of healthcare issues, primarily health policy, and the medical humanities. It was during medical school that I developed an interest in health policy through my work in advocacy as a member of the American Medical Women’s Association. Additionally, I helped to organize state lobby days for medical students while at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas Texas.

As a rotating senior medical student, I wrote my first piece on humanism in medical training for the nationally acclaimed medical blog, KevinMD. My interest in writing and sharing an “insider’s view” of medicine as a woman physician has continued with my first policy article focused on job market economics within medical training that was published in Forbes magazine.

While most of my writing has been in the form of op-eds and articles, I am most excited about a children’s book I published, Is Mommy a Doctor or Superhero? This story is a tribute to the incredible women in medicine who balance the holy grail of work and family, all with grace and grit. 

What Opportunities and Experiences Have Most Influenced Your Career Path? 

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by mentors and role models who believed in me, not just the project I was working on. That is an important distinction because they believed in me no matter the success of my work, which gave me hope and guidance for the next challenge — always.

And, as I mentioned at the beginning, one of my passions is storytelling. For me, writing and speaking present outlets to create something from the observations and experiences I have as a physician. I then develop these insights into something others can learn from, be inspired by, or just ponder.

As a practicing physician, this oftentimes means giving a voice to the patients I see who I feel are not always heard. By putting words to their experiences, I am essentially translating their thoughts into the content and inspiration for most of my writing and speaking, which I, in turn, share through mainstream media publications (ie, National Public Radio, Chicago Tribune, Forbes), podcasts, television shows, and TEDx talks.

I see the emergency department as a reflection of society at large. When politics, policies, or culture change, we see the effects fairly immediately in the emergency department. This can be everything from:

  • Immigration policies manifesting as fear in our undocumented patients
  • Unemployment causing patients to forego their medicines so they can pay for food, or
  • Viral TikTok videos causing teens to try dangerous “challenges” (ie “Benadryl Challenge”).

I’m uniquely privileged to see these effects firsthand and be confided in by patients — my passion is to give a voice to those stories in a way that can advocate for positive change.

In developing Is Mommy a Doctor or Superhero? (available at DoctorMommyBook.com), I used illustrations and found words to describe the incredible achievements of women in medicine but through the eyes of children to create this inspirational story for women physicians to share with their children.

What Challenges Have You Faced in Your Medical Career and Advice You Can Offer?     

Trusting in myself has been one of the hardest things to internalize. If I am totally honest, I, like most all of us, have been at least a little afflicted with imposter syndrome, and the greatest hurdle is just being able to believe in oneself the way others believe in you.

As women, we are bombarded with conflicting instructions:

  • Lean in
  • Lean out
  • Break the glass ceiling
  • Free ourselves from the sticky floor

It is exhausting, even without all the other inequities that we will inevitably face in our careers and lives. As with most experiences in life, there is never a perfect time or a flawless strategy, and you will never feel completely ready. But, you should trust in yourself and your ability, and when looking back, you will realize that you followed a pretty incredible path.

I have participated in organized medicine since I was a medical student, but initially in the American Medical Association and also my state (Texas) medical association. Later in my career, I focused mostly on specialty societies (ie, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Academy of Emergency Medicine) but recently became an active member of AMWA as a way to broaden my efforts in medicine as a whole.

The people I’ve met over the years in all of these organizations have definitely been a part of inspiring me in medical humanities and in my career in general.

In particular, the mentors I’ve had have not always been the people I would have expected to mentor me. For example, several are not in my specialty or even in healthcare— they non-physicians who I met through policy work and even journalists with whom I have interacted with. The most important thing I’ve noticed in mentorship is finding a mentor that believed in me, not just my project — so even if a project fails, a good mentor will remind you of the spark they see in you and help you cultivate that spark into the next project.

Jodi Godfrey

AMWA Virtual Mtg | Thriving w/Tenacity, Humor & Hope | March 24 – 26, 2022 Save the Date!