by Eliza Lo Chin, MD, MPH
Earlier this year, I attended an awards luncheon hosted by Blue Shield of California in honor of their achieving success on board diversity and recognition by Women Who Lead. This event brought together wonderful women from many sectors – technology, healthcare, marketing, and more.
I reflected on my own board journey, having served on two non-profit boards (over 4 years on the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) board, including a year as president, and over two decades on the board of Renew). Both experiences helped shape my professional development, and my AMWA board experience changed my career and led to my current role as Executive Director of AMWA.
This past year, I joined the board of OET USA, LLC, a global company headquartered in Australia focused on empowering internationally trained healthcare professionals to communicate effectively in healthcare settings. Specifically, OET’s English language test “assesses the language communication skills of healthcare professionals who seek to register and practice in an English-speaking environment.”
I learned about OET through Paul Rockey, MD, MPH and our mutual work in AMWA’s support of international medical graduates (IMGs). What impressed me about this test compared with other general or academic English proficiency tests was the evaluation components address more than a candidate’s ability to master syntax and grammar. The OET Test has been designed with healthcare experts to evaluate health workers actual ability to communicate within real healthcare settings and using medical vocabulary. OET has separate components and scores for listening, reading, writing, and speaking. And the speaking subtest measures not just technical delivery of content but clinical communication criteria, like understanding, incorporating the patient’s perspective, and both gathering and giving information.
Perhaps most importantly, the OET Test challenges learners to move beyond rote memorization of language and the mechanics of correct grammar. The result? A potential for more compassionate, patient-centered care. This too, is what we strive for in AMWA, whether we advocate for building empathy to better listen to our patients’ stories or promoting awareness of sex and gender differences so that we can deliver more personalized care.
When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the discontinuation of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 2 Clinical Skills test, the OET Test for Medicine became the test of choice by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates for assessing language proficiency among all international medical graduates seeking ECFMG certification.
Serving on the OET board has been an incredible experience and an affirmation of the fact that we as women physicians can have larger impacts on health care outside of our trained specialties. I encourage more women physicians to seek out similar opportunities to broaden their spheres of influence.
Learn about board training experience from programs offered by Women Who Lead and sign up for an AMWA / Korn Ferry informational session to be held sometime January 8-11, 2024.