Vidhya Prakash, MD, FACP, FIDSA, serves as chair of the American Medicine Women’s Association (AMWA) membership committee, and she is chair of Rural Health for AMWA’s program on Diversity and Inclusion.
Tell Us About Your Career Path
Currently, I am a professor of clinical internal medicine at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois where I hold several leadership positions:
- Vice-chair of clinical affairs in the Department of Internal Medicine
- Director of SIU Medicine’s Alliance for Women in Medicine and Science
- Member of the infectious diseases faculty
I owe so much of my professional success to a strong work ethic, sheer determination, and fantastic mentors and sponsors throughout my career. Equally important, I always played to my strengths and directed my efforts to two areas that bring me joy — clinical service and teaching.
Also, I chair both the Health and Health Care Committee of the Illinois Council on Women and Girls and the Illinois Department of Public Health Diversity in Health Care Task Force.
What Factors Have Most Helped You to Achieve Professional Success?
I am indebted to my teachers, mentors, and sponsors, most notably there are three women in these categories that I wish to acknowledge:
- A member of the AMWA Board of Directors, Susan T. Hingle, MD, FRCP, MACP, a general internist, professor of medicine, and associate dean for the Center for Human and Organizational Potential, and director of faculty development.
- Wendi R. Wills El-Amin, MD, associate professor of clinical family medicine at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
- Air Force Colonel Heather Yun, MD, an infectious disease specialist and chief of the Department of Medicine at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Each of these women in medicine has influenced me by modeling exemplary leadership through compassion, a deep commitment to their patients and communities, and creating healthy work environments. I am grateful to have had such phenomenal role models.
When I am not working or involved in volunteer work, I have rediscovered my love of reading, and so I’ve been enjoying a variety of books, ranging from fiction masterpieces by William Faulkner to gripping and inspiring biographies by authors including Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Are There Challenges that Have Influenced Your Medical Career? Any Advice to Offer?
As many of us do, I have tried to integrate work into my life effectively throughout my career, and I continue striving to attain a balance. I now live by the creed: “done is better than perfect.” I’ve also learned to set reasonable goals for myself. I am fortunate to have a supportive family, including my husband, Eric Black, our two children, Eric Shiva and Ethan Prakash, my little brother Vivek, and my parents and in-laws.
It was my mentors and sponsors who encouraged me to take on leadership positions, which I typically hesitated to accept and almost always considered declining given a bit of impostor phenomenon but for their push. As for advice to offer other women in medicine? What I would tell women physicians: Know your worth. Don’t wait around for others to put you up for leadership positions and promotions; instead, recognize your value and go for it!
About Vidhya Prakash, MD
Dr. Prakash pursued her medical training at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, then moved to San Antonio, Texas to complete both her internal medicine residency and fellowship in infectious diseases at the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium.