Member Spotlight: Alyson & Esther from Women’s Health in Emergency Care
Alyson McGregor and Esther Choo developed a new division within the Department of Emergency Medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University called Women’s Health in Emergency Care (WHEC).
Alyson is the next Member Spotlight of 2013- a few times a month, we’ll chat with one of our members and give you a behind-the-scenes look at their business.
How did you get the idea for your business?
Sex and gender matter when it comes to health and disease. Until recently, everything about American health care from research protocols to public health policies reflected an intellectual assumption that men and women are so alike that it’s not important to study women directly. Men have been used as the model for research to limit the uncertainty of fluctuating hormones. This is referred to as a “one size fits all” medicine. This resulted in the notion that “women’s health“was limited to issues surrounding reproduction and breast health as though her heart, brain, and every other part of her body were identical to those of a man. This view has been termed “Bikini Medicine.” Science is now showing us that gender is much more than an add on.
We developed a new division within the Department of Emergency Medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University called Women’s Health in Emergency Care (WHEC). The division aims to advance and promote gender-specific research pertaining to acute health conditions; to increase advocacy and awareness for gender-based health topics; and to create educational resources and opportunities so that gender medicine may be systematically included in medical training. We came up with this concept because the Emergency Department (ED) has become a primary point of contact for health care in the United States with encounters that reflect acute presentation of a spectrum of diseases. It is the perfect setting to embrace the concept that differences between women and men will ultimately improve the precision and quality of healthcare for everyone.
What has been the most challenging part of your business? What’s the best part?
Most physicians are not used to incorporating sex and gender considerations into their thought processes when they learn and practice medicine. So we have been challenged to raise awareness, understanding, and acceptance of what we do. The best part is knowing that we are exploring uncharted territory and thus have an amazing opportunity to contribute to the practice of emergency medicine.
How did you get the idea for the name of your business?
Our aim is to focus on women’s health from the emergency department perspective. Although gender specific medicine is not just about women’s health, there is some catching up that needs to be done on the unique health care needs of women in all aspects of medical care, not just reproductive areas. We are creating a campaign “We Know the Difference” when it comes to Sex, Gender and Health. “Your Emergency is as Unique as You are!”
Tell us about your background- where you grew up, past jobs, where you went to school, hobbies, etc.
Alyson: I am a native of RI. Born in Coventry and graduated LaSalle Academy High School in Providence. After making the New England Rounds: University of New Hampshire for Undergraduate and Boston University for Medical School, I headed right back to Providence to complete my Emergency Medicine Residency at Brown Medical School. Needless to say, I have stayed ever since. My academic interests are in women’s health and gender-specific medicine. I fill my free time with organic farming, cooking and yoga.
Esther: I grew up just outside of Cleveland, OH and came east for college and medical school at Yale. From there, I completed residency at Boston Medical Center and a health services research fellowship at Oregon Health & Sciences University. I came to Providence to join the Emergency Medicine faculty at Brown in 2009. My research involves prevention of violence and substance use. When not working, I pretty much just hang out with my husband and our three young kids.
What do you love about being a PVD Lady Project Member?
We love being a part of something that is meant to connect, inspire and showcase awesome women doing amazing things! How could we not love that!