In this interview, Dr. Shikha Jain tells us about her evolution from practicing oncologist/hematologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to Assistant Professor of Medicine and Physician Director of Media Relations at Rush University Cancer Center in Chicago as well as a powerful advocate for gender parity in medicine. Please join us for this enlightening conversation.
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Dr. Shikha Jain is a board-certified hematology and oncology physician on faculty at Rush University Medical Center with a focus on GI malignancies. She is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Cell Therapy and the Physician Director of Media Relations for the Rush University Cancer Center.
Dr. Jain got her inspiration to work in the healing arts from her father, who is a surgeon. But her education was enriched by a breadth of experience before, during, and after medical school. As a child, rounding with her father, she got her first impression of what the doctor-patient relationship should look like. Later, while an undergraduate at University of Chicago, she spent a summer in India teaching elementary school children in an underserved area, which gave her an immersive experience in a culture quite different from her own early childhood in the U.S. She had another opportunity to study abroad in South Africa in her last year as an undergraduate. Then she added an extra undergraduate year studying the biological sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia to broaden her scientific background in preparation for medical school.
She founded and co-chaired the inaugural Women In Medicine Symposium at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago in 2018 focused on promoting the advancement of women physicians at Northwestern. She is the co-founder and co-chair of the “Women in Medicine Summit: An Evolution in Empowerment” in Chicago. This national CME conference focuses on gender equality and finding and implementing solutions to eliminate the gap. Dr. Jain is a member of the Women’s Leadership Council at Rush and is the founder and host of the podcast “The Rush Cast.”
Dr. Jain’s Prescription for Success:
Number 1: “In order to be successful, you need to have a very strong support system…friends, family, your church or wherever you find support. There are going to be days when you need people who will lift you up and you need to have that [support system] in place.”
Number 2: “Create an “awesome list” …a list of your accomplishments or a list of emails…saying how wonderful you are or a letter from a patient…basically a file that reminds you how great you are. There are going to be days that you are struggling. Go back to your awesome list and remember that you are successful, you are worthwhile, and you have the ability to do amazing things.”
Number 3: “Keep a binder of mentors. You need mentors in different aspects of your life. You need a professional mentor…you need a personal mentor. Find someone who has a similar life to what you want and use them to help you figure out how to get into that type of life. Whatever mentors you have can help fill the different niches in your life and help you become the best person that you can be.”
Follow Dr. Jain:
Dr. Jain on Twitter: @ShikhaJainMD
Dr. Jain on Instagram: @ShikhaJainMD
Dr. Jain on Facebook: @ShikhaJainMD
Women in Medicine Summit: www.womeninmedicinesummit.org
Notable quotes from Dr. Jain’s Interview:
My father was very inspirational to me. He took me rounding with him….I loved seeing that doctor/patient interaction…that solidified for me that I wanted to be a physician.
I stepped away from medicine briefly when I explored other options, but it always called me back. It was the only thing that made me feel I was doing something that made an impact and kept me…happy, engaged and challenged.
The doctor-patient relationship…I really cherish that. For me to be a part of other people’s lives in a very big way [is] important to me.
[I found] medical school challenging because of the testing format…multiple choice. I had no way to express myself.
[About internship] …know what you don’t know…be humble…ask for help if you’re unsure.
We’re all in these academic institutions to help each other become better.