Women health-care workers carve out niche in Maimonides

By Dr. Karen Dacey
Maimonides Society
“I’ve been hoping for something like this for 10 years,” said one participant in the roundtable discussion of women health-care professionals on Sunday, May 7, at the JCC.
This summit of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley’s Maimonides Society brought together nutritionists, nurse midwives, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists and physicians. The morning was planned and moderated by me, Dr. Andrea Goldsmith, nurse practitioner Margo Lightman, and art therapist and bereavement counselor Lauren Rabin.
The brunch started with a welcome from Goldsmith, who framed the morning as an opportunity to foster camaraderie and community. Dr. Zach Goldsmith, president of Maimonides (and Andrea’s husband), shared the mission of the society.
I asked the 15 participants to consider how the society and the greater community can support them in their work and, in turn, how they can contribute to the larger mission of the Jewish Federation. Lightman spoke about the importance of women working in health care and cited studies that show improved health outcomes for patients when women are an integral part of the health-care team. Rabin then led the women in a focused group discussion, drawing on feedback from participants.
The participants spanned generational lines, with clinicians who have been in practice 20-plus years and others who are earlier in their careers, facing challenges such as balancing work with raising a young family. Many of the participants liked that space was carved out for women to support women professionally. Some believed the organization can look inward to its members for support and outward to the larger community as a service to those in need. Outpatient clinicians were happy to connect with colleagues who are not otherwise a part of their day-to-day life. Others were happy to reconnect with the Jewish community after a hiatus. One participant expressed appreciation for the childcare that was provided for this event as essential to her being able to attend. All in all, the participants were excited about shaping the future of the Maimonides Society with diversity, inclusivity and warmth.
Jeri Zimmerman, executive director of the Jewish Federation, encouraged the women to build on the strong foundation established at this event. The Federation wants to respond to the needs of the community and understands that female clinicians are an integral part of it. The participants all agreed with Zimmerman’s sentiment that a strong Federation makes for a strong Jewish community, which can then attract other Jewish individuals and families to the Lehigh Valley.
The morning was a success in capturing the essence of female clinicians in the Lehigh Valley and carving out a niche for women health-care providers within the Jewish community. The feedback from it will shape future planning and growth within the community. 
Within days of this summit, two women health care professionals joined the society. For information about joining, contact Dr. Zach Goldsmith at zach.g.goldsmith@gmail.com or Aaron Gorodzinsky at aaron@jflv.org.
Dr. Karen Dacey, a former president of the Maimonides Society, is an ophthalmologist with the Valley Eye Group in Bethlehem who specializes in cataract surgery.