Word from the C-suite: 'To reform healthcare, we need more female leaders'

Annette Walker, chief executive of Irvine, Calif.-based St. Joseph Health and president of strategy at Providence St. Joseph Health in Renton, Wash., said the medical industry must become even more inclusive of women.

In an op-ed published in STAT, Ms. Walker claims though healthcare has made several strides to incorporate women, the industry still has a long way to go and will require sustained effort from players across the industry to increase the number of women in leadership roles.

"This issue is deeply personal for me. When I started my career in healthcare more than 20 years ago … Women wanting to break into the field were encouraged to pursue nursing, or perhaps social work. I was lucky to be part of organizations that nurtured women leaders — and now lead a system that has made this a major priority … Many of the first hospitals [in the U.S.] were founded by Catholic nuns more than 150 years ago. They did everything from administration and operations to clinical work and public health outreach. These women were the first leaders in healthcare and laid the foundation for the American healthcare system. Their accomplishments forged a natural path and place for women in the workplace … So why is progress in the field still limited for women? … The root of this problem is multifaceted and nearly impossible to pin on one factor … Nevertheless, I believe that we owe it to our patients, our employees and the communities we serve to do everything we can to increase the number of women in leadership roles."

To read Ms. Walker's op-ed, click here.

If you would like to contribute a quote for this series, please email Alyssa Rege at arege@beckershealthcare.com to be featured in "Word from the C-suite."

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