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15 Articles in Volume 21, Issue #4
Advanced Practice Matters: Needs Assessment in Pain Management Training
Analgesics of the Future: Novel Capsaicin Formulation CNTX-4975
Ask the PharmD: How to Improve Medication Adherence in Chronic Pain Management
Behavioral Medicine: Applying Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Comorbid Pain and PTSD
Case Report: Multimodal Management of Osteoarthritis
Commentary: The PCP's Role in Preventing Chronic Back Pain
Guest Editorial: Structural Racism in Pain Practice and How to Combat the “Hidden Curriculum”
Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: An Update on Therapeutic Approaches for Pain Management
Male Clinicians as Allies in Women’s Leadership: What Your Female Peers Want You to Know
Meet the Women Changing Pain Medicine
Perspective: It’s Time to Advocate for Early Interventional Pain Management
Research Insights: Is Spinal Fusion Surgery Being Overused in Back Pain Care?
Tips from the Field: Treating Pain in an Under-Resourced State
Utilizing Music Therapy to Manage Chronic Pain
Woman to Woman: Leaders Share Advice for the Next Generation of Pain Medicine Clinicians

Male Clinicians as Allies in Women’s Leadership: What Your Female Peers Want You to Know

From mentorship and transparency to sexist behaviors and power-sharing, support is the most powerful tool men can offer their female colleagues.


As part of our special roundtable of women clinicians leading in pain management, we asked particpants what advice they would offer male colleagues who seek to be allies in the inclusion of female clinicians in the pain management field. Here, their take on mentorship, transparency, sexist behaviors, power-sharing, and support.

See also their advice for the next generation of women leaders in pain medicine


Women clinicians share what they want their male colleagues to know about mentorship, transparency, sexist behaviors, power-sharing, and support.


Women Leaders Offer Advice for Male Colleagues in Pain Medicine


Vanila M. Singh, MD, MACM
Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine / Immediate Former Chief Medical Officer, HHS / Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health /  Chairperson, Best Practices Pain Management Inter-Agency Task Force, HHS

I would advise them to continue to support women’s leadership and inclusion in the field of pain medicine. It is imperative that men demonstrate a mindset of equality toward women in the workplace. Too often, male support of their female colleagues feels hollow or dishonest. They cannot simply go through the motions. Only acting on this support will continue to grow a culture of equality in this field that so many women have fought hard to establish. Men can support women not just in sentiments or hashtags (which can feel like a fad or trend) but in pointing out those strengths in groups and committees to highlight the strong skills and knowledge which their women colleagues have so that there is no doubt that women have the excellence in leadership, communications and other skills and knowledge.


Tina Doshi, MD, MHS
Assistant Professor, Pain Medicine, Johns Hopkins University / Clinical Researcher / Founding Member Chair, Women in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (WRAPM) Special Interest Group, American Society for Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine / Appointed Member, Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group (NeuPSIG) Trainee Subcommittee, IASP 

Acknowledge that there are gender gaps in the profession, recognize that women’s perspectives can be different from men’s, and be willing to support female colleagues in calling out or changing sexist behaviors or attitudes.  Beyond that, it’s the same advice I’d give for anyone who wants to be a good mentor, sponsor, or ally in general: be knowledgeable, be nonjudgmental, be supportive, provide honest feedback, share opportunities, facilitate networking, ask how you can help, and listen.  



Jessica B. Jameson, MD, FASA
President and Founder, Society of Women Innovators in Pain Management / Co-Founder, Axis Spine Center, Idaho / Secretary, Women in Neuromodulation, North American Neuromodulation Society

I have, and continue to have, wonderful male mentors and colleagues who truly want to be allies. Listening, learning, and including are the most important aspects of any professional sponsorship regardless of gender, race, or background. Everyone wins when we  expand our circle beyond what we are comfortable with or what has always been done.  



Monica Mallampalli, PhD, MSc
Senior Advisor, Scientific and Strategic Initiatives & Head, Chronic Pain Advisory Council, HealthyWomen / Biomedical Scientist / Women’s Health Advocate

When it comes to clinical care, my advice would be to take women’s pain seriously and encourage treatment and management based on the biopsychosocial model of care. Since one size does not fit all, I encourage my colleagues to ask how we can provide better care and management for both women and men knowing there are sex differences and individual differences in chronic pain. 


Anita Gupta, DO, MPP, PharmD
Distinguished Fellow of the National Academies of Practice; Faculty, Adj. Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Great mentors – whether men or women – have key attributes of listening actively with empathy, being intentional and transparent in communication, and providing active sponsorship. Great mentors identify opportunities, open doors, and connect mentees to challenging assignments, so they learn and grow in their respective careers. Mentors should purposefully seek to pursue developmental relationships and suspend judgment to make mentorship work toward professional development. Listening with humility and empathy to ask good questions is essential. Mentors should work to sponsor and connect with other sponsors actively.

If you are in a position of influence, raise her credibility and visibility by allowing her to be exposed to the complexities of your role. Active and intentional mentors can transparently introduce her to other leaders in decision-making positions and submit her name as a high-potential candidate for promotion in both formal and informal conversations. 


Beth Darnall, PhD
Associate Professor, Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine / Director, Stanford Pain Relief Innovations Lab / Creator, Empowered ReliefTM

The male colleagues I know who seek to be women’s allies are generally already highly supportive. One pitfall I have seen among women more than men is a tendency to take on various projects that benefit the department or division but actually have little impact on the woman’s professional advancement. For career efficiency, women should seek to avoid taking on an inequitable proportion of these “supportive” time-sink projects. Male supervisors can help women cultivate discernment in this area and ensure their career success remains the primary focus. 



Magdalena Anitescu, MD, PhD
Chair, Women in Neuromodulation, North American Neuromodulation Society / Professor of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Program Director, Multidisciplinary Pain Medicine Fellowship and Section Chief, Pain Management Services, University of Chicago Medicine

There are already a significant number of male physicians who are strong allies in the quest for inclusivity. Together, we are putting our brains together, male or female, young and old, experienced or just graduating, putting apart differences and brainstorming on best solutions for various challenges. I believe we will all contribute to our patients’ well-being and create a more harmonious world. 


Maureen F. Cooney, DNP, FNP-BC, PMGT-BC, AP-PMN, ACHPN
Family Nurse Practitioner, Pain Management, Westchester Medical Center, New York / Adjunct Associate Professor, Family Nurse Practitioner Program, Pace University / President, ASPMN

Regardless of gender, we all have roles in affording our patients the safest and most effective pain care possible. Although the number of men in nursing has significantly increased in recent decades, women have traditionally dominated the nursing profession and nurses – known to spend the greatest amount of time in direct contact with patients – are in unique positions to assess the impact of pain on the whole person. Thus, they bring unique perspectives, clinical experiences, and interpersonal skills into leadership positions.

My advice to male colleagues who seek to be allies with women in leadership positions is to access opportunities to engage in dialogue and working situations with women to learn from their unique perspectives. Shared efforts to conduct research, develop and revise position papers, and publish practice guidelines ultimately improves pain care for all patients. Invite women to serve in leadership positions in traditionally male-dominated pain organizations to bring a different base of experience that will enhance the missions of the organizations, expand opportunities for membership growth and engagement, and improve pain care for the many who depend on their efforts. 


May Chin, MD
Professor, Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine / Co-Director, Spine and Pain Center /
Program Director, Pain Medicine Fellowship, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Male allies in the field can vote for and appoint women to leadership roles and support them as they make the transition. Give women resources to be successful. Include women in speaking engagements at conferences and in educational and leadership courses. Actively promote women’s skills among your own male colleagues – especially if those colleagues are seeking collaboration, such as for a research project, a conference presentation, etc. 



Judith A. Paice, PhD, RN, FAAN
Director, Cancer Pain Program, Division of Hematology-Oncology / Research Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine / Member, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center / Member, NIH HEAL Initiative Multidisciplinary Working Group

First, I would offer deep gratitude to the many male colleagues who have believed in me and other women by providing mentorship and opportunities. For those who have not yet made this a priority, challenge your beliefs, consider your own implicit bias regarding sex and gender, and make an effort to overcome preconceptions by ensuring equity for women in our field.  


Morgan Pollard, MD
Founder, Align Interventional Pain

It’s simple – the golden rule applies – treat everyone how you’d like to be treated, even if they are of a different gender, race, training background, etc. I don’t think there is any magic recipe.


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Last updated on: July 29, 2021
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Woman to Woman: Leaders Share Advice for the Next Generation of Pain Medicine Clinicians
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