Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Council

AMWA Initiatives

The American Medical Women’s Association advocates to bring under-addressed issues to the forefront of the national agenda.
Join our initiatives now.

Diversity and Inclusion at AMWA

Join us for our monthly calls that take place on the last Wednesday of the Month @ 8 pm – 9 pm CT

All AMWA members are welcome


AMWA’s Council on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) is an evolving and constantly innovative group of women in medicine who come together to process change and transformation among ourselves, as well as acting as stewards to assure representation across the organization’s membership, among our leadership, in our initiatives and throughout our programs.

We are committed to:

  • The pursuit of knowledge and applicability of this knowledge through diverse traditions and inclusive efforts
  • Accountability and action towards the success and management of diversity
  • Creating a welcoming environment that encourages diversity and inclusion of ideas, personal and professional growth
  • Engagement and collaboration among all members and allies
  • A focus on inclusivity in everything that we do

Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, AMWA


AMWA is dedicated to increasing the participation and fostering the leadership of women and minorities within the organization and in the broader medical community. Consistent with our founding principles, we recognize that our newly trained physicians and patients that we serve are from increasingly diverse ethnic backgrounds and communities. We actively promote a diverse culture through chapters and programs to a diverse group of pre-medical, allied health, and STE(A)MM students, medical students, residents and are committed to mentoring, training, professional development, community and public service programs. Our members actively participate in all of AMWA’s activities and programming ranging from the Gender Equity Task Force, the Advocacy Committee, Mentoring Committee, Leadership Development, and program planning for the AMWA Annual Meeting.

Diversity Dialogues

AMWA Diversity Dialogues is an interdisciplinary podcast designed to promote diversity of thought through unfiltered and honest conversations about topics related to diversity and inclusion, and that highlight the disparities and inequities in medicine and within the healthcare system and consider what we can do. New episodes are posted the 3rd Wednesday every month.

Listen to the latest podcast and enjoy past episodes HERE as well as on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and others.


Heritage Months

Our committee celebrates the following heritage months and highlight programs of interest to our members. Email us, tweet us, or post on Facebook activities and updates so we can highlight your activities!

  •  February – Black History Month
  •  May – Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
  • September/October – Hispanic Heritage Month 
  • November – National Native American Heritage Month

Physicians, Residents, Medical and Pre-Medical Students– Get Involved!

DiversityThe JEDI Council has multiple opportunities for medical students, premedical students and residents to work with attending physicians on projects to further AMWA’s mission and values.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities and Health Equity

Racial and Ethnic Disparities and Health Equity strives to identify health policy issues affecting underrepresented populations, develops and supports initiatives to promote their success in reducing the disparities gap.  We aim to engage those underrepresented in the field of medicine and work to create an environment best suited to capitalize on the strengths of AMWA’s physician, resident, and student members. Members of AMWA including Susan Ivey, PhD, a past AMWA President and Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD, AMWA’s Chief Diversity Officer were proud to serve on the AMA Commission to End Health Disparities. The Commission to End Health Care Disparities was established in 2004 by the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association, and the National Hispanic Medical Association in response to the Institute of Medicine’s report “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care”

Ensuring that issues related to underrepresented patients, their families and communities are heard, AMWA members are active in various AMA Committees including the


Theme: Research

Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

County: Life, Death, and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital by David Ansell, MD

The Death Gap by David Ansell, MD

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Subcommittee

The LGBTQ Subcommittee helps AMWA foster an inclusive environment for physicians, residents, and students by providing educational and mentorship opportunities and supporting organizations that work toward equal rights for LGBTQ individuals and families in the broader community.

Byne, W. (2017). Sustaining Progress Toward LGBT Health Equity: A Time for Vigilance,Advocacy, and Scientific Inquiry. Access the paper here.


Lesbian Health 101: A Clinician’s Guide by Suzanne L. Dibble, RN and Patricia A. Robertson, MD

Military and Veteran Affairs Subcommittee

The committee provides the cultural connect for those who have served and continue to serve our country, through peer support, mentoring, team building, and other methods of engagement to learn how military service informs clinical practice and research. Check out our webpage here.

For more information on the National Veteran Equity Report click here

Mankowski, Mariann, and Joyce E. Everett. “Women service members, veterans, and their families: What we know now.” Nurse education today(2016). Access the paper here


Women Doctors in War by Judith BellafaireMercedes Herrera Graf

Research Externships

Presently, in partnership with the Rush Heart Center for Women, AMWA pre-medical students and medical students have the opportunity to take part in ongoing research projects in addition to developing their own research projects for presentation at the Annual National AMWA meeting, Women Physician Congress meeting in Washington, DC and the annual Rush Research Forum.

Below are examples of various internship experiences.

 AMWA Pre-Medical Students:

  • Isabel Kats (Tulane) and Emma Fleisher (Tufts) (2016), Isabel Kats (2017, 2018)
    • Developed the highly acclaimed RHCW Summer Internship Newsletter that chronicled their time with us at the Center and sent to all patients of the RHCW.
    • Developed the working data base for the large community heart prevention screening program in Chicagoland – 2BigHearts
      • Data from this Community Screening was presented at the AHA Lifestyle Session 2017 and 2018
    • Served as the AMWA Pre Medical Student Leaders for the AHA Go Red STEM Highschool Summer Internship Program that brings together 8 Highschool students to Rush every summer to shadow physicians and researchers at the Rush Heart Center for Women, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Stroke Service.
      • The RHCW Go Red STEM program was highlighted at the Chicago Wide Annual Go RED STEM event
    • Participated in the Annual Chicago Healthcare Innovation forum held in Chicago devoted to Health Equity and Disparities.
    • Disseminated informational flyers to RHCW patients at main campus and satellite clinics about IRB approved clinical trials that were seeking participants for participation.
      • MIND Diet Study
      • Working with MIND Diet Study Coordinator and team, assisted in developing educational materials for study
    • Working with the RHCW Medical Director and Research Director, reviewed charts from the RHCW patient database and Cardio Cognitive Database for potentially eligible patients to enroll in physical activity trial pilot study:
  • Rachel Castro (University of Illinois Chicago) (2017, 2018)
    • An AHA Go Red spokesperson to discuss stroke in the young, Rachel Castro, has been involved in activities at the RHCW, the Go Red STEM program and also the ongoing research activities with the Rush Stroke Service and the MIND Diet and Stroke Program
    • RHCW – Dr. Aggarwal Lead, sponsored a riding team – AHA Cyclenation
  • Anisha Chandran (University of Illinois Chicago)
    • Participating and leading on-going clinical research at A Safe Haven Foundation to develop further the Walk with a Doc Program, Stroke Awareness and Cardiovascular Disease Risk reduction in Homeless Veterans and Women

AMWA Medical Students:

  • MerryJean (MJ) Losso (Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine)
    • AMWA National Diversity and Inclusion Committee Student Chair
    • Presented research at the AMWA Region 6 conference in Chicago and worked with Isabel, Emma and the RHCW on community projects in the design and administration of surveys
    • Delivered WWAD educational programming to older African American Women at the Kroc Center–South Side of Chicago as part of the PCORI funded CEERIAS stroke grant and with the Multicultural outreach coordinator – Karen Lowe Graham form the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center
    • Returned to Chicago to work with the RHCW team in Spring 2019 during an advanced away elective
    • Developed the first AMWA Clinical Research Elective through Rush Heart Center for Women
    • Participated in on-going clinical research at A Safe Haven Foundation
  • Gayatri Jainagaraj (Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine)
    • Developed and administered an AMWA Student wide research survey assessing formal medical student education and knowledge about Alzheimer’s Disease with Women Against AD
  • Emily Phelps (Rush University Medical College)
    • Lead Student and 2018 Rush Dean’s Award Recipient for developing the research project studying perceptions of medical students to older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease utilizing virtual reality programming and surveys.
    • In 2019 Received the Best Poster Award – Public Health Division at the American Medical Association Award 16thAnnual AMA Research Symposium in National Harbor, MD
  • Medical Student Away Elective Rotation
    • December 2018
      Fourth year medical student, MerryJean Losso, of Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine completed the first AMWA Clinical Research Elective in Chicago at Rush University Medical Center with Dr. Neelum Aggarwal and the Rush Heart Center For Women team.
    • This unpaid internship exposes the intern to the intersection of Brain and Heart Health by working with Cognitive and Stroke Neurologists, Cardiologists, bench researchers and social science researchers.
    • If you have any availability in your academic calendar (summer, fall, winter or spring) to complete a 2-4 week, or potentially ongoing project, please apply to the rotation with the information required below.

Want to apply for Summer of 2020?

  1. Check with your school regarding away electives and when during the year they are available
  2. Complete CITI training for human subject research before applying to the elective as all work with the Rush team involves clinical research and CITI training is needed
  3. Send the copy of the CITI training at your completion with your application
  4. Send an updated CV with your application
  5. A 400 word summary of your research/ clinical interests and what you hope to learn from rotating with members of the team

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis by the Rush team and all applicants will be notified whether they have been accepted for the away rotation.

Submit your application to diversityandinclusion@amwa-doc.org.


A. Women, Alzheimer’s Disease and Caregiving

We Won’t Wait:  Fact Sheet |  Women & Dementia – A Global Challenge
Are you thinking of having your patients participate in a clinical trial?

Check out this link. https://www.usagainstalzheimers.org/research

B. Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in Clinical Trials — Why it Matters for Women

How to Engage, Recruit, and Retain Women in Clinical Research — Dr. Clayton | NIH Outreach Toolkit

Clinical Trials and Women | Women In Clinical Trials Fact Sheet 2016 | 
How Sex and Gender Influence Health and Disease

Sex & Gender Medical Education |Dr. Aggarwal with colleagues have published a paper about Women and Alzheimer’s Disease

Newsletter  & SGME Poster — Gender differences in Alzheimer’s Disease onset and progression: Taking Research Findings and applying them to Medical Education

Road Map for Innovation in Women from the FDA : Access it here

C. Health Equity & Innovation


The Center for Healthcare Innovation is a leading organization based in Chicago that highlights key issues in healthcare delivery, access and policy. Members of the D and I Section nationally and locally in Chicago, participate in programming and activities of the Center. |Check out the latest initiatives and events where AMWA leaders have attended and also what D and I programming is being planned in 2019.

Go Red Luncheon:
Dr. Annabelle Volgman, Executive Leadership member and Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, Rush Steering Committee member of AHA Go Red STEM and AHA Cyclenation, work with colleagues across the Chicagoland area to raise awareness about Heart Disease, Women and Brain Health


Brain Health is Women’s Health (Chicago, IL 2015)
      Dr. Katherine Tynus, Dr. Neelum Aggarwal,  Dr. Nancy Church, Dr. Theresa Rohr-Krichgraber and Dr. Kimberly Templeton

D. AMWA Supports Tech Sector

Dr. Nancy Church, talks about Innovation in Medicine at the AMA Innovation Space at MATTER- Chicago’s Healthcare Incubator | Dr. Aggarwal and Ms. Dima Elissa, both mentor startups in the Healthcare space @ MATTER in Chicago and are especially interested in Women run startups and supporting them.

In addition, physician entrepreneurs work with AMWA leaders, D and I members and also Women in Bio 

E. AMWA Supports Medical Sign Language

This website was created by an AMWA Pre-Medical Leader, Ashley Barker, out of the passion for reducing the disparity that is existing between the hearing world and the deaf/hard-of-hearing world. It is targeted toward medical professionals with a lack of knowledge of the deaf/hard of hearing community and American Sign Language. Individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing are often not considered as underrepresented. This website will serve as an aid for better communication and patient care.

F. AMWA Supports Walk with a Doc

This national program was brought to AMWA by past AMWA 2014-2015 National President Farzanna Haffizulla, MD FACP FAMWA.

The concept is this: community members of all ages and fitness levels gather with local physicians in your own neighborhood to exercise! The program begins with a 5-10 minute teaching point followed by 45 minutes of interactive walking at your own pace.

Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD and her healthcare team, host many local programs in Chicago and Topics include: a focus on heart health, brain health, stroke prevention but also include arthritis. This WWAD programming in Chicago, started after many of community participants in the City Wide Stroke Grant (CEERIAS) said they knew to call 911 but wanted to know how to PREVENT a stroke. Having CEERIAS stroke champions set up WWAD in their communities was the next logical step. Check out the locations  in Chicago.

We have partnered with Walk with a Future Doc, which allows medical students to host walks alongside physicians. AMWA students are hosting WWAFD walks at:

G. AMWA Supports Bring Art to Life

AMWA medical students at the University of Alabama and Rush bring an interactive art program, Bring Art to Life, to Chicago. Art programming for dementia care is increasing in popularity and this program brings high school students, medical students together to work with patients with all types of dementia in a 12 week arts program.  Funded in the past by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and other foundation grants, BATL- C is an ideal program that students can run with physician speakers and art therapists. If you have any questions, please email Dr. Aggarwal.

H. Diversity Dialogues

Diversity Dialogues is designed to give AMWA readers a glimpse into the lives of our talented colleagues who are driving their own unique paths in practice and study of medicine.  We hope you enjoy this quarterly series.

Education & Training

  • AMWA suggests the following websites to further develop education and training in diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • AAMC |  NIH |  OMH
  • Health Disparities-Related Organizations
  • Public Engagement and Clinical Trials — Access it here
  • Minority Women in STEMM — Access it here
  • Clinical Trials and Disparities — Access it here

D & I Perspective on Innovation

African-American, Latino and Native American women are underrepresented amongst STEM fields and medicine. innovation lightbulbThe Section has begun collaborative efforts with STEMM organizations and health incubators, with the goals to increase the diversity of higher education in STEM fields through a variety of initiatives, supporting the education and professional advancement of highly talented women from underrepresented groups. Two programs presently under development include:

  1. Establishing a STEMM student academy to increase awareness of opportunities in STEMM  (internships, study/work at incubators/ healthcare startups, career, conferences, and research);
  2. Establishing opportunities for women in STEMM to network with AMWA members and exchange ideas regarding healthcare innovation.

Examples of opportunities to link up with us:

  • WeTechUP — TechUP seek women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, veterans, and people who live with a disability to engage in technology initiatives.
  • Women in Bio — Mentorship & Sponsorship in LifeSciences & Innovation
  • Innovation Ecosystems – Chicago

Under the leadership of our SoDI members, Vidhya Prakash, MD and Dima Elissa, MBA,  this Committee is poised to bring  professional network resources together in one, centralized gateway through AMWA.

Presently, the Midwest network provides a broad healthcare community that will facilitate commitments from AMWA partners and members to accelerate access to the resources entrepreneurs need to vet and prove their concepts.

Check out the Road Map for Innovation in Women from the FDA




Diversity and Inclusion Section Cultural Cookbook in Honor of the Centennial Meeting — Chicago 2015

  • The cultural cookbook has over 100 cultural recipes as well as informative food articles on the history of traditional foods and ways to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, submitted by AMWA and MWIA members. Click here to purchase the book; perfect for a gift!

Rural Health


Patients who reside in rural areas, defined by the US Census Bureau as all populations, housing, and territory not included within an urban area, face extraordinary barriers to receiving equitable healthcare.

Lower income, lack of access to physicians and mental health services, challenges with health literacy, and gross health inequities are among the obstacles facing patients in rural areas. Further, lack of resources, social and geographical isolation and inadequate prioritization are major hurdles for health care providers practicing in rural settings.

The D & I Rural Health group, under the American Medical Women’s Association Section of Diversity and Inclusion, was established to mobilize rural providers in the AMWA network to help bridge health disparities and address health inequities in rural areas through an evidence-based and data-informed approach.

Vision: To substantially bridge the gap between urban and rural health care in order to optimize outcomes for marginalized patients in rural communities.

Mission: The Section of Rural Health will fulfill our vision by:

  • Creating an inclusive community of collaborative partnerships with stakeholders in the rural and urban settings.
  • Understanding the skills and demands of health literacy in the population in the rural settings to design ongoing training and education programs.
  • Increasing awareness around specific challenges faced by patients and health care providers in rural communities.
  • Developing innovative and data-informed solutions to health inequities and health disparities in rural communities.

Jodi Godfrey, MS, RDN
Deputy Director

Student Away Rotation

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