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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

Woman to Woman: Leaders Share Advice for the Next Generation of Pain Medicine Clinicians

Women clinicians working across academia, research, policy, and pain practice discuss what they wish they had known when starting out.

As part of our special roundtable on women leaders in the field of pain management, we asked experts working across academia, research, policy, and practice what they wished they had known when starting out. Here are their responses.

Whether pursuing pain research or pain practice, women who have led the way offer career advice. (Image: iStock)


For those completing their residencies or fellowships and heading into the pain management field:

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

Weathering the hurdle of entering a new business or practice is a challenge, and there are a few steps you can take before you start to ensure your success. Get organized by creating a system for all the things that have to be completed by the end of the day and prioritize those most important. Transitioning can be even more challenging when you are trying to prove yourself. It is essential to ask for help if you need it by demonstrating humility in the workplace; doing so will build trust and respect with your colleagues. It is also essential to create a straightforward self-care plan that includes nutrition, exercise, mental well-being, sleep, and mindfulness-based stress reduction. By doing this, you will build your resilience both in the short and long term. Finally, find a position that will embrace change and best practices, lead in transformation and continuous improvement, and adapt to new standards of care. 


For those entering medical research and public health policy:

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

First and foremost, recognize that we have made great strides in advancing women’s health in the last 30 years. Until the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, women were not included in clinical trials. Let’s not take our health system for granted, keep up the momentum, and continue with the progress we have made so far. We need more women in medical research and policy to continue the fight until we achieve health equity for women of all ages, races, and ethnicities. 

There is also a lot of confusion on the terminologies related to “sex” and “gender.” Sex relates to biological and physiological differences whereas gender relates to social, psychological, and cultural influences on one’s assigned sex. These terms were defined by the National Academies of Sciences in 2001 and have been backed by a body of science. Let’s be clear on these terminologies, apply them appropriately, and question their relevance in medical research data and policy – if not, we may lose some of the strides we made so far in advancing women’s health.


For those seeking overall career advice:

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

I would share these key lessons:

  • Source multiple mentors – content mentors, internal mentors, and also at least one external “career” mentor. 
  • Recognize that your ultimate passion is important, but may not be a fundable idea/topic at NIH or elsewhere. Be flexible, and make early funding your primary goal. The protected time you receive on grants will allow you to pursue other topics. 
  • Identify your weaknesses as opportunities. If assertiveness and negotiation are knesses, shore those up early as they will impact your entire career.
  • Professional networking is golden. Build relationships and bridges.


Advice from Tina Doshi, MD, MHS
Assistant Professor, Pain Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Founding Member and 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 Trainee Subcommittee, IASP

It’s genuinely a privilege and a pleasure to be able to work with trainees, and even over the past few years, I’ve seen a positive evolution in terms of the sensitivities and sensibilities of younger physicians toward their patients and their colleagues. I like to think that one of the core reasons for choosing a career in medicine, and particularly pain medicine, is a desire to help people. In recent years, there’s been improved awareness and education about disparities within healthcare that better equip us to help people and each other. The change is slow, but certainly moving in the right direction.

In terms of lessons, there are so many, but the most important is actually one that I give to all trainees and not just women. However, this advice is particularly valuable for early-career women because they are often pulled in many different directions, not just in terms of career paths, but also in managing personal and professional obligations.  It’s to craft your own mission statement and to stick to it. This can be a single mission encompassing your personal and professional goals, or one for each. 

When you finish training, there’s no obvious next step like internship/residency/fellowship; it's the first time you really have a whole world of options out there for you.  You need to think frankly and deeply about why you’ve chosen to go into pain medicine, what you want to accomplish in your life and your career, and what you need to do to achieve those goals.  There will always be more opportunities than you have time and energy for, so every opportunity that you seek or that comes to you should be evaluated in terms of how it serves that mission. 

Sometimes it’s good to ask for advice from a trusted mentor to make sure you don’t reject something that might turn out to be useful for you.  This can be a good way to figure out what to say “no” to, although admittedly, how  to say no with good grace and goodwill is an important learned skill, too!   

See also, these experts' advice for male colleagues on mentorship, transparency, and power-sharing. 

Last updated on: July 29, 2021
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