SGO Issues Jan. 9, 2020
SGO publishes rules of conduct, anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policies
Learning how to take care of ourselves | Katherine R. Tucker, MD
Pam Lewis joins FWC as Director of Major and Planned Gifts
Early bird deadline for Annual Meeting registration ends Jan. 13
Foundation offers new educational materials for patients
The SGO Ethics Committee, headed by Chairperson Monique Spillman, MD, PhD, and Vice Chair Vivian von Gruenigen, MD, CPE, have published an updated Rules of Conduct during Business Meetings as well as a new SGO Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy on the SGO website. This is the first time that SGO has established a formal protocol for reporting incidents of harassment or discrimination.
The Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy serves as a companion to the SGO Rules of Conduct during Business Meetings and the SGO Principles of Ethical Conduct and Practice that SGO adopted last year. It was created to outline harassment and discriminatory behaviors that violate SGO’s ethical principles and to provide instructions on how to report such behaviors.
The SGO Ethics Committee was formed in 2018 under the direction of then-president Carol L. Brown, MD. “It was a natural progression to start with the Code of Ethics then move towards the Rules of Conduct during Business Meetings,” explained Dr. von Gruenigen. “The committee benchmarked with other societies and engaged with a national consulting firm who works solely in the field.”
Dr. von Gruenigen added that the committee researched guidelines from the American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as policies from many other societies and organizations outside of medicine.
According to the new policy, any meeting attendee who wishes to report perceived incidents of discrimination or harassment may submit their grievances to the CEO, current SGO president, Ethics Committee Chair, Program Committee Co-chairs, or directly to a professional management service contracted by SGO to triage complaints. The professional management service will assist the society with handling complaints and investigations.
“Discussions regarding sexual harassment were raised a decade ago by Tarana Burke with the MeToo movement,” said Dr. von Gruenigen. “It was elevated and given a hashtag (#Metoo) in the fall of 2017 when the New York Times published a series of stories detailing the vile behavior of several prominent male studio executives, producers and actors preying on vulnerable women. Since then, there has been increased awareness in medicine with news articles and hashtag expansion on social media to include #metoomedicine and #metoo surgery.”
“While we hope these policies will never be needed, SGO has made an important step forward in insuring fair and equitable treatment for all, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, national origin, color, age or disability,” said Dr. Spillman.
After spending years learning how to take care of others, I realized this year that studying medicine hadn’t taught me how to take care of myself. The tools I was using to stay grounded and balanced were simply a way to ignore my personal needs. I had to admit personal failure and overcome my deep-rooted stigma of asking for help.
As a resident, I had developed a commitment to patient care that sometimes meant I neglected other important components of my life and development as a physician. I got to work early, left late and frequently brought patient-related work home. Despite feeling that my significant other resented me for it, I unapologetically devoted myself to work. When I started fellowship, I carried many of these habits with me. In each meeting with my mentor during my first year of fellowship, we discussed my continued struggle to balance patient care and learning with personal relationships and needs.
My wellness activity and stress release has always been physical activity. During medical school and residency, my escape from work included activities like running, hiking, skiing and taking fitness classes. Last year, during my research year of fellowship, I decided to run my first marathon. When I needed a break from running, I signed up to participate in my first Spartan race (a race that combines various mileages with a number of obstacles). With the thrill of finishing that race came the desire to do more races, to get stronger, to train harder.
The success of finishing that race occurred simultaneously with a huge personal loss. I buried myself in work, and I worked out any chance I got. I isolated myself from friends, family and work colleagues. For the first time in my life, I really struggled to sleep and to eat. My breaking point came when I hurt someone close to me. In my depression and isolation, I made a decision that was disrespectful to one of my teachers and mentors, and to someone I consider to be a friend. I made a decision that could have harmed a patient.
That mistake and hurting someone else allowed me to see how self-destructive I was being. It allowed me to see that burying myself in work and pushing myself physically were not the tools I needed to take care of myself. It allowed me to finally ask for and accept help. I accepted help in the form of medication and therapy. I now meditate, albeit sporadically. Most importantly, I started telling people I was not OK. I leaned on the many people who care about me and support me. In admitting failure and accepting help, my recovery began, and I finally started to learn how to really take care of myself.
Katherine R. Tucker, MD, is a gynecologic oncology fellow at the University of North Carolina.
The Foundation for Women’s Cancer (FWC)—the official foundation of the SGO—is pleased to announce the hiring of Pam Lewis, MEd, as the Director of Major and Planned Gifts. Pam has over 15 years of development and corporate sales experience. Her development roles have been focused in academic medicine, clinical healthcare systems, and disease advocacy work. She has successfully worked with CEO’s, clinicians, researchers, patients and family communities, and she has developed an understanding of the sensitivities each of those groups require. Pam’s focus will be expanding FWC’s donor base, generating community relationships and leadership giving, as well creating and implementing a legacy (planned) giving program.
“The majority of those in the fight around gynecologic cancer – the patients – never wanted to be a soldier, but those who fight for them and alongside them – the clinicians and researchers – are the reason I work in healthcare and the reason I joined FWC,” said Pam. “I am inspired by the people, the work, and the urgency to change the trajectory of these diseases. Finding the financial support to bring a path to care and cure is a great reason to go to work every day and I’m honored to be a part of this outstanding team.”
In her most recent position with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Pam was responsible for the strategic development, growth and planning for the Jewish Federation as well as the design and implementation of an $8.5M annual campaign. Pam has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. Pam can be reached at email@example.com.
Registration and housing are open for the SGO 2020 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer March 28-31 in Toronto. Early bird registration pricing is available through Monday, Jan. 13. Standard pricing starts Tuesday, Jan. 14. SGO has negotiated special housing rates for Annual Meeting attendees. The official host hotels are listed on the housing web page; please note that the InterContinental Toronto Centre has been sold out. Room rates are guaranteed through Feb. 28. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The FWC has added several new fact sheets and brochures for gynecologic cancer patients to the Foundation website. The following Gynecologic Cancer fact sheets are newly available as PDF downloads:
- Financial Resources for Cancer Patients: Your Guide
- Survivorship: Your Guide
- Psychosocial Issues & Survivorship: Your Guide
- Palliative Care: Your Guide
The following new brochure titles are available as PDF downloads or can be ordered as hard copies by submitting an order form: