Women In Medicine Month: Dr. Elizabeth Saunders

Women In Medicine Month: Dr. Elizabeth Saunders

September is Women in Medicine Month. We pleased to share the stories of some of our female physicians.

Elizabeth A. Saunders, MD ('07)
Associate Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics
Program Director, Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency

What made you want to go into medicine?
My decision to become a physician was initially fueled by the values instilled in me by my family. Growing up in West Virginia, I witnessed first-hand the socioeconomic disparities and the impact on health and wellness. It was a desire to serve others and help these individuals, especially in West Virginia, lead healthier lives that ultimately guided me into medicine. The privilege of being part of this profession and helping others when they are in their most vulnerable state is truly rewarding.

How has medicine changed for women since you started? 
I’m very proud to say that during my training in medical school and Med-Peds residency here at Marshall University, I was surrounded by numerous strong female physician mentors that positively impacted my educational experience in so many ways. Today, we continue to be very fortunate to have so many vibrant female physicians who are contributing to the advancement of healthcare here at Marshall as physician leaders across so many fields in medicine.  These women work fiercely to secure an environment that is inclusive, promoting professional growth and development for the next generation of female physicians.  

Were there any women in your life that you looked up to and helped shape who you are today? 
I was very fortunate to grow up surrounded by strong woman. My maternal grandmother supported her family by working long hours as a nurse in Logan County at the county health department after my grandfather passed away when my mother was young. Listening to her self sacrifices really impacted my personal values and my work ethic. Additionally, my mother was a special education teacher and I remember her advocating for her students with disabilities while growing up which really instilled the skill set to apply in my daily clinical practice for my own patients.

What advice do you have for women just starting out?
My advice to women just starting their careers in medicine is to find your herd (village, tribe, whatever you want to call it!). Medicine can be difficult at times. Seeking help and input from others is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and maturity. Surround yourself with people who motivate you and promote you. You want mentors (both male and female) who will be honest with you, praise you when you do well, give you honest feedback (even when sometimes it’s tough to hear), tell you when you are right but more importantly wrong, and encourage you to be the best version of yourself.

Date Posted: Friday, September 25, 2020